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Old 03-22-2006, 07:50 AM
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hhmmmm, I guess they don't mind the unusual concole layout. Over all, a decent article, though I think they might have gushed a bit to much.
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Old 03-22-2006, 08:34 AM
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I read that article yesterday. While the performance numbers wont impress TL/G35/3-series fans, the 4G sizes up to be the quickest/fastest ES ever produced while not sacrificing the ESs inherrent nature of entry level luxury.

This will continue to be one of Lexus's best sellers. Sidenote: Although I understand why it never materialized, I sort of wish Infiniti would have developed a new I35 based on the FFL platform (3G Altima) to compete with the TL and ES.
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Old 03-22-2006, 08:34 AM
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... and that glass roof with the two openings is SICK.



"The panorama glass roof (luxury package only) adds a new dimension to the ES's standard moonroof. Inside, there are two openings, one each for front- and rear-seat passengers. "
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Old 03-22-2006, 08:46 AM
  #284  
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wow price went up

nevermind, just the options list is pricey. Car is still the same base price as before basicly.

Last edited by Crazy Bimmer; 03-22-2006 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 03-22-2006, 10:15 AM
  #285  
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This car is definitely on the radar for the parents. Time to get out of the Volvo before the electronics bugs start showing their ugly faces ...
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Old 03-22-2006, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by titan
... and that glass roof with the two openings is SICK.
Well, it appears to be the same glass roof from the Scion tC. I think it looks kinda tacky how the glass protudes out and up. Also, the front piece of glass was known to shatter when hit by rocks; Scion has a tsb that fixed the problem with clear plastic tape. It also kinda sucks that the rear opening doesnt actually open like the front.
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Old 03-22-2006, 02:15 PM
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im not sure if its been mentioned or not... but is it still FWD?
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Old 03-22-2006, 02:19 PM
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still FWD
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Old 03-22-2006, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by titan
hhmmmm, I guess they don't mind the unusual concole layout. Over all, a decent article, though I think they might have gushed a bit to much.
Yeah I was looking through the article and hoping for mention of it, whether they liked it or not, but I guess from the omission that they didn't seem to mind it.

Also noticed that from the pics, it doesn't have LED taillights. I wonder why the new offerings from Lexus, both IS and ES, don't have them, yet the new RAV4, refreshed Prius and refreshed 4Runner do?
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Old 03-22-2006, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by sdho
still FWD
Sure it is... it's a "chromed-up Camry."
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Old 03-22-2006, 04:52 PM
  #291  
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it's a great car, but i hate the dash. and 40K? that's little too much!!
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Old 03-22-2006, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by chungkopi
it's a great car, but i hate the dash. and 40K? that's little too much!!
Agreed. Even though they tested a fully optioned car, it should have topped out at a few thousand less. I'm figuring the one I want for my mom will cost around $35-36K.
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Old 03-22-2006, 05:01 PM
  #293  
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I saw the real thing last month at the autoshow, the dash looks even worse in person.
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Old 03-22-2006, 05:08 PM
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The TL is more different from an Accord than the ES is from a Camry.
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Old 03-22-2006, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by M TYPE X
The TL is more different from an Accord than the ES is from a Camry.
I disagree. It's almost a toss up.
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Old 03-22-2006, 08:48 PM
  #296  
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If they offer Faux Carbon Fiber Trim instead of wood, then I am sold
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Old 03-22-2006, 09:49 PM
  #297  
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As someone else said, the center console looks like a damn dildo, and the crooked wood looks tacky as hell. BUT... I can't hate, it's a very nice car, and no doubt another winner for Lexus.
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Old 03-22-2006, 11:01 PM
  #298  
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Originally Posted by phile

Also noticed that from the pics, it doesn't have LED taillights. I wonder why the new offerings from Lexus, both IS and ES, don't have them, yet the new RAV4, refreshed Prius and refreshed 4Runner do?

actually the IS does have LED tail lights. theyre just not the individual LEDs u see on other cars but more like a LED panel. if u see them light up then u will know they are LED because they dont fade like bulbs when going out
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Old 03-23-2006, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by M TYPE X
The TL is more different from an Accord than the ES is from a Camry.
no... atleast teh ES is made in japan and not in america

but main thing is, acura is a lot more like honda in terms of service and how they treat their customers than difference between lexus and toyota.
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Old 03-23-2006, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by M TYPE X
The TL is more different from an Accord than the ES is from a Camry.
If you read this article it says that the new ES shares virtually no interior parts with the camry- can't say that about the 2nd gen TL, i dont know about the 3rd gen
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Old 03-23-2006, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SSMTL01
If you read this article it says that the new ES shares virtually no interior parts with the camry- can't say that about the 2nd gen TL, i dont know about the 3rd gen


the ES doesn't share a single dash panel or material with its less expensive Toyota sibling.
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:07 PM
  #302  
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Originally Posted by Infamous425
actually the IS does have LED tail lights. theyre just not the individual LEDs u see on other cars but more like a LED panel. if u see them light up then u will know they are LED because they dont fade like bulbs when going out
Thanks for the correction.
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:09 PM
  #303  
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Originally Posted by SeCsTaC
As someone else said, the center console looks like a damn dildo,
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Old 03-23-2006, 11:15 PM
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Yes, the ES is built in a different location with different parts, but it's a dead ringer for a Camry. That trait doesn't change for 2007.
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Old 03-25-2006, 02:43 AM
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i personally like the car but that cup holder wood thing is really off. Its so out of place
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Old 03-27-2006, 08:52 PM
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Honestly, except for the retarded slanting center console, the interior's great.
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Old 05-04-2006, 06:17 PM
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Lexus prices ES350 from $33,170 - - Source: Car Connection


The new ES350 from Lexus will be priced from $33,170 when it goes on sale later in the spring. The new five-passenger luxury sedan sports a 272-horsepower V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission; together Lexus says they push the ES to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Toyota promises 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway for the ES350, and installs eight airbags in each model, along with traction and stability control.

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Old 05-04-2006, 06:59 PM
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And $42,900 for the Canadian market.
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Old 05-05-2006, 07:33 AM
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Not a compelling car for me but that's not a bad starting price.
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Old 05-05-2006, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by MSZ
And $42,900 for the Canadian market.
About the same as for the TL.
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Old 06-14-2006, 12:58 PM
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Review...

Lexus ES 350 fails to impress

Uninspired, costly sedan has no shock-and-awe features, but engine is powerful

Anita Lienert

LAKE LAS VEGAS -- In the past, I've glowingly compared the entry-level Lexus sedan to a little black dress. That is, a versatile, elegant workhorse that can take you from client meetings to a cocktail party with ease.

So I wasn't surprised when a Lexus executive took me aside at the March launch of the redesigned, fifth-generation 2007 Lexus ES 350 and asked if I could see "the kimono" outline in the instrument panel.

The instrument panel was created by one of Toyota's female designers and she apparently worked hard to achieve a crisscross effect in the cabin that mimics the folds in a traditional Japanese robe. The idea, I'm told, is to avoid the boring, symmetrical look of the instrument panels found in Buicks and Hyundai sedans.

But I'm sorry. The kimono effect was lost on me. I looked out from behind the steering wheel of the ES 350 and all I could see is that giant "snowshoe" that holds a lot of the controls. Or maybe it looks more like an alien's head.

What I am sure about, though, is my overall reaction to the new ES 350, so named to reflect the bigger 272-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine. In a word, lukewarm.

But instead of rushing to judgment after half a day in the car here, I waited for a second opportunity to drive the Lexus for a week on my home turf. Lexus loaned me a "royal ruby metallic" model loaded with eight options, including a $2,650 navigation system bundled with a rear camera and a Bluetooth hands-free phone system; a $500 "intuitive parking assist" system and a $330 wood-and-leather steering wheel. Bottom line: $41,249, including a $695 shipping charge.

The base ES 350 starts at $33,865, including shipping, and is on sale.

After a week, my reaction is about the same.

The ES 350 is competent and impressive in some ways, especially in terms of gas mileage with such a powerful engine. But it's not compelling and it's just too expensive when you start adding options.

My thinking is that if the Toyota Avalon has a reclining rear seat, wouldn't you expect to see such a feature in the automaker's upscale sedan, with which it shares a number of underbody pieces? But you don't get it in the ES 350 and you don't even get a split-folding rear seat either, only a small pass-through for skis. That's the micro side of my review.

The macro side is the ES 350 isn't nearly as good a value as more affordable and intriguing offerings such as the Hyundai Azera, which starts in the mid-$20,000s.

The ES 350 is capable but uninspired, from its interior and exterior styling to its new engine, which is powerful, but not particularly quick.

The entry-level Lexus is powered by twin-cam V-6 that delivers 272 horsepower and 254 pounds-feet of torque. That's considerably more power than last year's 3.3-liter V-6, which made 218 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet.

Lexus says the ES 350 has a zero-60 time of 6.8 seconds, but it doesn't feel like a rocket when you try to launch it past an 18-wheeler on the freeway. One boy-racer touch in the cabin is the pushbutton start.

Because the ES 350 is equipped with a new six-speed automatic transmission, which it shares with the redesigned Toyota Camry, the fuel economy is impressive at 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 30 miles per gallon on the highway, according to the EPA. Those are outstanding numbers for a midsize luxury sedan with this much power.

Ride quality is comfortable and predictable, thanks to items like gas shocks and front and rear stabilizer bars.

Less noteworthy is the look of the ES 350, which fails to turn heads. The nicest thing I can say about it is that it looks more substantial than the previous model, even though the overall length is virtually unchanged from the old ES 330.

The headlights and the taillights lack drama. And I still think it's ridiculous to put twin exhausts on any vehicle that does not come with a V-8 engine.

The cabin's styling mirrors that of the exterior, with no "shock and awe" features that will catch your eye or get your neighbors talking.

It's a Republican Party sort of cabin -- conservative being the operative word -- with wood and leather, but no unusual or unexpected materials that would make you catch your breath.

The cabin is equipped with 10-way power adjustable front seats, a standard premium audio system with a six-disc CD and cassette with iPod connectivity and a standard moonroof. One of the best options is a glass panorama roof.

But the driver's seat felt a bit too cramped and the rear parcel shelf obstructs your vision. The armrest was too far back and didn't slide forward, and the shift lever didn't have enough heft.

The ES 350 shines in terms of standard safety equipment, though. You don't pay extra for vehicle stability control, antilock brakes or traction control. Also standard are driver and front passenger knee air bags, front side air bags and side curtain air bags for all outboard passengers. You can also order an optional "precollision" system that cinches up the seat belts and prepares the brakes for maximum effort before a crash.

As Lexus launches its redesigned entry-level sedan, it wonders aloud in its marketing materials whether it's "possible to engineer desire."

"Lexus has always been respected for engineering vehicles with unmatched levels of luxury, dependability and quality, but not necessarily for their emotional appeal," it writes.

After test-driving the ES 350, it's clear that the emotional side -- as well as some practical matters -- may need a bit more work.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll...73247639330862
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Old 06-14-2006, 03:32 PM
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Ok ... For the last time, the Lienerts are MORONS.

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Old 06-14-2006, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by charliemike
Ok ... For the last time, the Lienerts are MORONS.

true dat
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Old 06-15-2006, 02:48 PM
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Doesn't matter what the Lienerts think, Lexus sold like 9K+ units for the month of May. That's the highest i've ever seen for the ES model.
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Old 06-15-2006, 04:51 PM
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that review was pretty awful..they totally missed the misson of the car

the car is supposed to be a luxury sedan with high quality of materials, superb refinement and good power and luxurious ride.

them tying in the the azurea is a dead giveaway to their cluelessness sit in the azurea and sit in any new lexus and you cant even try to compare them

those boneheads might as well be commenting on its lack of offroad abilities and compare it to the RAV4 as well :shakehead

the ES is in no ways perfect, but it's role is an entry level LUXURY car and not sporty or sportsedan which the IS is for.

a review where they actually bothered to see what the car is intended for


http://car-reviews.automobile.com/Le...-preview/1693/

Lexus Raises the Bar for Entry Level Luxury

As far as modern Lexus cars and SUVs go, the Lexus ES is probably the most neglected of the group by the media and the general public. Compared to the bold, sporty IS, the state-of-the-art GS, the magnificent new LS, or the environmentally-friendly RX400h hybrid, the ES doesnt stand out like its more modern contemporaries. But, despite all of this, the ES remains as one of Lexus best sellers. And while there are no intents to ship this comfort-tuned sedan off to Europe, Lexus hopes to change impressions of the ES on our soil with the launch of the all-new fifth-generation model, which made its debut earlier this week at the Chicago Auto Show.

The ES is one of the original Lexus models, a car that was introduced in the late 80s alongside the larger LS. It represented truly affordable luxury motoring in a time when the Japanese were merely budding into the segment. Essentially, what is a re-styled, re-worked high-end Toyota Camry, in todays lineup, it appeals to traditional customers who appreciate Lexus meticulous eye for quality, yet want a softer, more comfortable ride with a more conservative looking exterior. And while it vies with the IS as Lexus entry level vehicle in terms of price, it targets a completely different customer.

In terms of appearances, I was never particularly fond of the old ES. It either looked very plain, almost too inconspicuous (even with two-tone paint and chrome wheels), as with the first three generations, or, as with the most recent version, very round and inflated, and rather odd looking with its almond-sliver headlamps. The good news is that all such oddities and/or blandness have been cured with a solid dose of L-Finesse, Lexus now famous styling language. With this new styling pen, the ES has been transformed into a very handsome looking automobile, bearing close resemblance to other members in the Lexus portfolio, and in particular the IS - in fact, from the front and the side, its sharp jaw-line makes it look like a grown-up, matured IS. From the back, its completely different from any other Lexus; its identity new, slim and with angular taillights.

As with the exterior, the interior of the ES has been completely reworked in the same style as with other new Lexus cars. The interior is finely crafted in high-quality plastics, glossy wood and glove-soft leather, while the shape of the dashboard is similar to other new Lexus models, but the console bears a slightly more organic shape. In Lexus quest to create the entry level luxury vehicle with the highest value for dollar, theyve gone all out on premium car details, such as retractable power sunshades, keyless pushbutton start and Bluetooth connectivity to the sporty wood and leather wrapped steering wheel, clever metal-look Optitron gauges, and ambient white LED lighting.

Underneath, the ES is still a Camry, and like the new Camry, it grows in the same dimensions by equal amounts. Compared to the old ES 330, the 350 rides on a wheelbase thats two inches longer, and has a track thats an inch wider. The ES also rides on the same suspension system as Toyotas popular midsize model, which includes struts at all four corners, but is tuned for a more absorbent, comfortable ride. And while the bodywork clearly presents the new ES as a Lexus, it doesnt feature Lexus VDIM intelligent stability control system; instead, it features TRAC and VSC, as with top-tier Camrys.
Like many new Lexus and Toyota vehicles such as the Camry, Avalon, and IS 350, the ES is powered by Toyotas now revered 3.5-liter V6 engine. At 272-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the ES is more powerful than its plain-clothes Camry sibling (268-hp), but less than the full-size Avalon (280-hp). And although the ES shares the same badge number with the IS, its a fair ways off the IS 350s 306-horsepower rating, because the smaller, sportier Lexus feature D4-S direct injection. Nevertheless, performance is still good; with that amount of power under its hood and a six-speed automatic with manual mode to shift the gears, the ES can still hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds - plenty fast for a car of this type.

In the same way that the IS is making leaps and bounds in performance, the ES is escalating the ranks in terms of luxuries offered. For the first time, Lexus will offer a panoramic glass roof on the ES, comprised of a power sunroof and a fixed overhead rear panel, similar to the sort of roof featured in Mercedes-Benzs E-Class, or by MINI in its Cooper. Eight airbags, including knee airbags are standard, but that can be increased to a total of ten if the optional side rear airbags are specified. Also available are extra-luxurious semi-Aniline leather seats with heat and ventilation, as well as AFS adaptive xenon headlamps, and a new and improved touchscreen navigation system.

The extra-large LCD screen featured in the ES also acts as a display for the optional reverse camera, and is able to play DVD videos when the vehicle is in park. To back up the visuals, Lexus has turned to Mark Levinson to provide the acoustics, which in this case includes a 7.1 surround sound digital processor powered by a 10-channel, 300-watt amplifier. Sound is directed through a total of fourteen loudspeakers, strategically placed around the car to maximize sound quality. Source input for this magnificent system includes tapes, CDs, satellite radio, or personal MP3 player, accessible through an integrated aux-in jack.

Believe it or not, todays ES is faster, quieter, and more luxurious than the first generation, V8-powered LS 400, and packs technology thats miles more advanced than what Lexus engineers were dreaming of nearly two decades ago. And while the ES isnt the most glamorous, quickest, or most luxurious Lexus on the market, in its niche as an entry-level luxury car it has been leading, and will most likely continue to lead the segment. Lexus hopes to sell 70,000 units of the ES next year, which is a figure much larger than most expected.

The new ES 350 will go on sale late this April as a 2007 model; pricing will be announced closer its launch date. Expect only a modest price gain, helping to keep the ES competitive against its rivals.

it or not, todays ES is faster, quieter, and more luxurious than the first generation, V8-powered LS 400, and packs technology thats miles more advanced than what Lexus engineers were dreaming of nearly two decades ago. And while the ES isnt the most glamorous, quickest, or most luxurious Lexus on the market, in its niche as an entry-level luxury car it has been leading, and will most likely continue to lead the segment. Lexus hopes to sell 70,000 units of the ES next year, which is a figure much larger than most expected.

The new ES 350 will go on sale late this April as a 2007 model; pricing will be announced closer its launch date. Expect only a modest price gain, helping to keep the ES competitive against its rivals.

Last edited by gilboman; 06-15-2006 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 06-15-2006, 04:58 PM
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here's a funny blog on the leinerts

http://theautoprophet.blogspot.com/2...vs-orange.html

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
The Lienerts: Apple Vs. Orange
I am starting to think that Anita and Paul Lienert, the married pair of automotive writers who do reviews for the Detroit News, are nuts. Previously, Anita Lienert compared the cupholders in the Porsche Boxter to the stirrups at her gynecologist office. This week, they preview the Lincoln LT luxo-truck, and are offended that it does not share a feature with the Honda Ridgeline.


We also couldn't help but to compare the Mark LT to the vaunted 2006 Honda Ridgeline pickup, which is the first truck to come equipped with a trunk. Despite the LT's strong points -- and there were many -- it lacked a good place to hide and lock up valuables.

Why would they compare a Lincoln F-150 derivative to a Honda unit-body based on the Pilot SUV? Even a rudimentary understanding of how body-on-frame trucks are put together makes it obvious that there is no place to package an under-the-floor trunk. If someone wants to lock up valuables, any number of options exist in the aftermarket, from locking toolboxes to hard tonneau covers.

These vehicles have entirely different "DNA". One is a prettied up truck, originally designed to haul, tow, and survive abuse from contractors. The other is a truckified light-duty SUV. One is a luxury car, and has a sticker of $50,000, the other is family transportation. One comes with a truck tuned V8, the other with a V6 shared with a minivan.

What next? Will they compare a Saab car to a Saab fighter jet, and complain that the car lacks a HUD, lacks radar, and is under-powered?
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Old 06-16-2006, 07:20 AM
  #317  
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detroit news is a friggin JOKE!
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Old 06-16-2006, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by gilboman
I am starting to think that Anita and Paul Lienert, the married pair of automotive writers who do reviews for the Detroit News, are nuts.
I'm really glad that people are starting to agree with me. I hate the Lienerts as journalists.
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:55 AM
  #319  
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Toyota Took Cost-Cutting Approach on Lurching Lexus Models, Records Show
The automaker struggled to diagnose performance problems with the 2002-06 ES models and limited the scope of repairs, company records show.

Five months before the new 2002 Lexus ES hit showroom floors, the company's U.S. engineers sent a test report to Toyota City in Japan: The luxury sedan shifted gears so roughly that it was "not acceptable for production."

The warning was sent to Toyota Executive Vice President Katsuaki Watanabe on May 16, 2001. Days later, another Japanese executive sent an e-mail to top managers saying that despite misgivings among U.S. officials, the 2002 Lexus was "marginally acceptable for production." The new ES went on sale across the nation on Oct. 1, 2001.

In years to come, thousands of Lexus buyers would discover firsthand that the vehicle's transmission problems, which caused it to hesitate when motorists hit the gas, or lurch forward unintentionally, were far from fixed.

The 2002-2006 ES models would become the target of lawsuits, federal safety investigations and hundreds of consumer complaints, including claims of 49 injuries.

Internal Toyota records reviewed by The Times provide an inside look at how the world's largest automaker struggled for years to identify the causes of nagging performance issues in one of its top-selling luxury vehicles. They also show that the automaker sought to cut costs by limiting the scope of repairs.

"The objective will be to limit the number of vehicles to be serviced to those owners who complain, and to limit the per-vehicle cost," a Toyota staff attorney wrote in an Aug. 15, 2005, memo explaining the automaker's legal defense strategy.

Toyota was fined a record $16.4 million last month for delays in notifying federal safety officials about defects that could lead to sudden acceleration. Though the 2002-2006 ES models were not included in Toyota's recall of nearly 10 million vehicles worldwide for unintended acceleration, the car's history has nonetheless caught the attention of congressional investigators.

A House committee has subpoenaed thousands of internal documents from Toyota, including nearly 250 dealing explicitly with that generation of the ES, which were collected or produced by the automaker to defend itself against a 2005 lawsuit.

In statements to The Times, Toyota Motor Corp. officials said they followed industry practice for notifying customers about repairs.

"Given the concerns raised by some customers about this drivability issue, we did not meet the very high customer satisfaction standards we set for ourselves," Toyota said. "However, we fully stand behind the engineering and production quality of the vehicle, as well as our after-sale customer service and technical support."

The documents show that Toyota repeatedly tried to solve the lurching problem by modifying the car's computer software. But Toyota told The Times that the Lexus ES issues concerned "drivability" and were not related to the sudden-acceleration problems experienced in other vehicles.
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Hattie Lesure, however, said the Lexus ES 300 she bought for $35,000 in August 2002 had an alarming tendency to jump forward without warning. "My fear was that it could surge into another car," the Moreno Valley retiree said.

After her Lexus dealer and Toyota's U.S. sales unit disputed Lesure's claim, she filed a lawsuit against the automaker, which was settled for about $3,000.

When Lesure bought the ES, Toyota was quietly rolling out a new version of the software used to control the car's drivetrain in an attempt to remedy the car's performance woes. But the automaker decided to fix only a fraction of the vehicles, the documents show.

The repair "should only be utilized for critical customer complaints," wrote Gary Heine, quality-assurance powertrain manager for Toyota's U.S. sales division, in an e-mail to customer service managers on Aug. 27, 2002, according to a chronology Toyota lawyers prepared for litigation in late 2005.

Other customers — presumably those who did not complain loudly enough — were not included in the software upgrade until late 2003, when Toyota instructed dealers on how to reprogram the onboard computer and advised more than 100,000 ES owners to bring their cars in for a "product enhancement."

But many customers complained that the fix didn't work, internal memos prepared for Toyota executives in Japan show, leading some officials to question the wisdom of sending notices in the first place.

In an Aug. 3, 2005, e-mail to a superior, then-Toyota staff attorney Dimitrios Biller described a meeting he had with the then-head of Lexus in the U.S., Bob Carter, on whether to notify ES owners about a new software update. Carter now heads the Toyota brand here.

"Bob is opposed to the idea of sending such a letter out to all owners of all 2002 to 2005 ES 300 and ES 330 vehicles because a substantial majority of these people are satisfied with their vehicles," Biller wrote. "Once they become sensitized to the hesitation and/or lurching, they will become 'dissatisfied' Lexus owners."

Two weeks later, Biller wrote a memo indicating that Toyota's "objective will be to limit the number of vehicles to be serviced to those owners who complain, and to limit the per-vehicle cost." (Biller has since left the automaker and is involved in several lawsuits with the company. Toyota has called Biller "a disgruntled former employee.")

Toyota sent the letter to the 3,000 customers "who have actually complained about the performance of the transmission" in their cars, the documents show.

In its statement, Toyota said that issuing a technical service bulletin "versus direct notification to customers" is "commonplace for addressing issues such as this" and is a practice used by other manufacturers. Toyota did not respond to a request to interview officials who wrote or received documents cited in this article.

Vexing problems

The ES had for many years been the top-selling model in the Lexus lineup, known for its smooth ride and graceful handling.

A month after the 2002 ES went on sale, car critics panned what one called "jerky gears." In the coming months, Toyota officials noted growing numbers of complaints on Internet forums and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website and, according to the legal chronology, were able to replicate the surge problem in a test vehicle.

In August 2002, J.D. Power & Associates reported to Toyota that complaints about the ES' transmission had quadrupled. That drove the vehicle's ranking in that category to 18th place, the chronology said.

In its statement, however, Toyota noted that the Lexus ES had consistently received high marks overall from J.D. Power.

Also in 2002, two ES owners prepared a lawsuit alleging defects and seeking class-action status. Before it was filed, Toyota settled, according to a letter sent by Toyota to its outside counsel in June 2005.

One of the plaintiffs, Micky Palach of Monroe Township, N.J., recalls receiving a $900 check.

"The car had a serious transmission problem," said Palach, who bought the Lexus as a Christmas present for his wife. He still owns the car, which he said continues to surge unexpectedly.

Toyota engineers had been trying to solve the performance problems on the ES since at least 1999, documents show. But by 2004, some at the company thought that no amount of software tinkering would remedy the problem.

In a July 21, 2004, internal report, Toyota's vehicle engineering division suggested that the performance woes were the result of the car using only three motor mounts to secure the engine, one fewer than in previous ES models.

In an interview with company lawyers in November 2005, two Toyota engineers indicated that "the performance characteristics of the vehicles are NOT related to the software, but to hardware issues," according to an e-mail sent by Biller.

But company officials ruled out solving the problem "due to the complications as well as costs associated with a change from three to four engine mounts," according to a memo written by Toyota's outside counsel regarding the same meeting.

The redesigned 2007 ES, released less than a year later, had four engine mounts.

Safety questions

Carol Mathews said she was parking her 2002 ES when it suddenly jumped forward, smashing into a tree. The repair bill came to $14,000.

"I always swore on a stack of Bibles that there was something wrong with that car," said Mathews, former director of healthcare for the Montgomery County, Md., public school district.

After Toyota rejected her claims that the car was defective, Mathews filed a petition in 2004 with NHTSA. Acting on that complaint, NHTSA opened the first of three defect investigations into that generation of ES for unintended acceleration problems.

All three were dismissed, but a review of NHTSA's database shows that 49 injuries have been blamed on acceleration problems in that version of the ES. A September 2008 complaint alleged that a speed control problem in a 2006 ES led to a pedestrian's death.

In early 2005, Los Angeles attorney David Greenberg filed a class-action suit against Toyota in federal court, alleging that defects in the ES caused it to "hesitate," "lurch" and, in certain circumstances, suffer "dangerous, unanticipated acceleration."

In preparation for trial, Toyota approved a $1.6-million budget for its outside counsel, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. The judge dismissed the case in May 2006, saying it did not belong in federal court.

State court remained an option. Toyota, which had collected the nearly 250 documents in preparation for its defense in the case, notified its auditor that a state lawsuit could pose a material liability that would force it to notify shareholders.

But Greenberg, an employment and personal injury lawyer, decided not to pursue the case.

"I felt like we had a good case. It was just a bit premature,"
said Greenberg, who still owns the same Lexus. "If I had the case today, I can tell you we wouldn't have given up so easily."
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:44 PM
  #320  
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It just never ends for Toyota huh?
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