Seat Time: 2014 Lexus ES

September 23rd, 2014 at 3:00pm

2013_Lexus_ES_350_16

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Toyota
Make: Lexus
Model: ES
Type: 4-door sedan
Competitors: Cadillac ATS, Acura TL
Price: MSRP: $36,470; AS TESTED: $42,195 + $910 D & H = $43,105
Made in: Toyota’s Miyata plant in Miyawaka, Fukuoka in Japan
Drivetrain: 3.5 Liter 268HP Four Cam 24-Valve V6
EPA Ratings: 21 City, 31 Highway, 24 Combined

Final Impression:

2013_Lexus_ES_350_19The Lexus ES is a “nice” car. Notice the quote marks because that’s the writer’s sotto voce way of saying BUTTTTTT…

Let’s start with what’s to like about the car. The design is good, not great, but good for a mid-range luxury car. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that 3.5-Liter V6 engine. It delivers on performance both on the highway and driving around town along with the promised MPGs. Plus, the 4-wheel independent MacPherson strut-type suspension gives you the sweet ride that Lexus is known for.

Inside, the car is loaded with a suite of safety features from stability control to brake assist and start-stop technology to name a few. And then there are the standard Lexus features along with what it calls its Luxury Package. Starting with the features, it’s a nice combination of everything you’d expect in a luxury car along with the extras in the $1,370 “Package” which includes perforated leather-trimmed heated and ventilated seats, Bamboo interior trim, remote keyless entry and more.

So that’s what’s to like about the car, however, there are a couple of things that can’t be ignored on the less than positive side.

Now, I haven’t driven an ES for a while but I have driven other Toyota products and some of the ES interior seems like it came right from the “hard plastics” showroom of the old Toyota. While most of its competitors are falling over themselves giving us soft-touch IPs, consoles and more, this car seemed to go in the retro “cheaper” direction and I don’t know why. And then there’s the Multi Media Interface. I don’t understand why Lexus insists on giving us a mouse-driven MMI, because no matter how many times I played with it, nothing ever came easy. And if the reason, or at least one of them, is to make the car safer for the driver by using this interface, that wasn’t happening in my case.

Toyota has announced that it’ll be moving production of the 2015 Lexus ES to its Georgetown, Kentucky facility and that’s good news for the state and the workers that the company will more than likely will be hiring. And I suppose it’s good for future Lexus ES owners as well, especially if those in charge of the move at the Miyata plant “forget to pack” all those hard plastics and that darn mouse and figure out a new approach to please its customers… you know, kind of like its competitors have done. Now that’s a package I can live with.

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