2013 Lexus GS 350: Kingman to Lubbock
February 26, 2013
Our last episode of the 2013 Lexus GS 350 road trip left off when I refilled my tank in the morning after a nighttime sprint out of town. Today, we pick up as I rejoin Interstate 40 from in Kingman after some crummy complimentary hotel coffee that wasn't worth the price.
Yesterday's opening stint left me with road butt after the first 100 miles. I spent the rest of the night fidgeting in my seat. After an hour this morning I was in the same boat once again.
It's not the driving position, which is most excellent. The seats even adjust to my liking. But it's the seat bottom cushion itself. It's too hard and drumlike. It seems like it deflects downward as a single unit. It needs a pillow-top like my mattress at home. It needs more cush for the tush.
This is not the first time I've had such an impression (or lack thereof) in a Lexus leather seat. I remember similar experiences in the 1990s. I can only conclude this seat conforms to some internal design standard that doesn't conform to reality.
And you know the best part? I have another 2,000 miles to go. Whoopie!
At least the Arizona and New Mexico interstates are great for making time because they have 75 mph speed limits. I burned through the first tank of the day without much delay until I started to see smoke on the horizon.
Within a mile or two the freeway came to a dead stop. After 5 minutes we started creeping forward to see a semi burning to the ground on the other side of the road. There was no second car and the smoldering wreckage was neatly parked, so I can only surmise that it was a mechanical problem and the driver got out fine.
Up until this point I hadn't noticed how much of the traffic I'd been mixing with consisted of 18-wheelers. And then I saw the one-mile backup that stretched away from the accident site. The line of trucks would only get bigger because the westbound lanes looked like they'd be closed for at least another hour.
About five miles down the road I stopped for gas and some enchiladas in Grants, New Mexico at the Kiva Diner. Good, but not the Las Cruces-grade ones I'd been hoping for.
An hour or so later I exited the interstate for a series of two lane highways that would eventually take me into Lubbock for the night.
Just before sundown I rolled into Fort Sumner, New Mexico. It was Saturday evening, but the place was utterly deserted. It's not a ghost town, but the city residents seem to be taking steps to turn it into one.
The name Fort Sumner didn't ring any bells at first and then I saw a sign on the far edge of town that prompted me to make a hard right and take a five-mile detour due south.
Fort Sumner is the home of Billy the Kid's grave. Oh yeah, I guess I do remember hearing of the place some years ago in a U.S. History class, or something.
Apparently, his headstone has been stolen twice in recent times. In both cases it was recovered and brought back because, well, it's here. Now the gravesite and stone are surrounded by a stout metal cage.
So I guess you could say Billy's serving an afterlife sentence for his crimes. Unless you're a Douglas Adams fan, in which case we're the ones that are in jail.
The side trip, truck fire, a time zone change and the fact that I was running away from the sun put me into Lubbock after dark.
But the run from Grants to Lubbock had been an efficient one, thanks to slower speed limits on the two-lane roads (65 to 70 mph) and a general downhill-trending run that began at 6,460 feet and ended at 3,256 feet.
My calculations showed that the Lexus had averaged 30.04 mpg after lunch.
The tank before it from Kingman to Grants had followed a 75-mph interstate route that started at 3,333 feet and ended at 6,460 feet. That run worked out to 26.76 mpg run.
Taken together, the 814-mile day started and ended at essentially the same altitude. The two-tank average of 28.4 mpg was therefore pretty satisfying because the GS 350's highway rating is precisely 28 mpg.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 11,338 miles