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1994 LEXUS ES 300 SEDAN

by: BILL RUSS

SEE ALSO:Lexus Buyer's Guide

1994 is a year of refinement for the Lexus ES 300 sedan. First introduced in 1992 as a replacement for the ES 250, this slightly larger and more powerful Lexus has become the high volume leader in Toyota's separate luxury car division. In revising the 1994 model the folks at Lexus concentrated on functional rather than cosmetic changes. Through focus groups and owner surveys they learned what their customers wanted in their car. As a result all of the 1994 model changes that have been made are inside the ES 300, and include a new all-aluminum V-6 engine and an improved electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Since entering the American luxury car market in 1989 with the top-rated LS 400 sedan each of the Lexus division models have received awards for quality or best-in-class. In just four years Lexus has become the benchmark of quality and fit-and-finish as attested to by various J.D. Power and Associates' surveys of customer satisfaction. Additionally, several automotive magazines as well as journalist groups have selected Lexus models as their award winners.

APPEARANCE: The ES 300 sedan was designed to look like a coupe. To this end it features frameless windows, a thin B pillar and flush door handles, as well as smooth rounded contours, a long low hood and high upswept rear deck. The lower body, bumpers and aprons are clad in plastic both for appearance and protection against dents. Nighttime visibility is improved by brilliant dual projector-beam headlights and driving lights, and there are cornering lights to brighten the roadside when turning on dark roads. The Goodyear Eagle GA Touring tires are mounted on six-spoke alloy wheels. The overall fit and finish on the Lexus ES 300 is impeccable.

COMFORT: While it is the smallest Lexus the ES 300 is generously outfitted like the luxury car it is. There are only three options to consider; leather upholstery and trim, a remote trunk-mounted six CD changer, and tilt-and-slide glass sunroof with sunshade. It is furnished with most of the items we have come to consider as necessary these days: six-way power front seats, power windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry, excellent sound and climate control, remote trunk and fuel door release, and a large, flat medium lift-over trunk with a lockable passthrough for long items such as skis. Other niceties include the electro-luminescent instrument cluster, real walnut wood trim, an outside temperature indicator, a tilt steering wheel and retained accessory power for the windows and sunroof.

SAFETY: Many new car buyers are becoming more aware of the benefits of safety features in their purchase of new cars. Some devices or designs reduce the occupant injury potential, others assist in accident avoidance, while a few result in lower insurance premiums. On the inside the ES 300 is equipped with dual front airbags, and three point seat belts with automatic locking retractors, plus height adjustable anchors in front. Outside the driver's door has a two-turn unlock, an adjustable audio tone control for the remote entry system, and a vehicle theft deterrent system. Designwise there are front and rear crumple zones as well as side door beams and four-wheel anti-lock brakes.

ROADABILITY: The ride and handling of ES 300 is designed to meet its mission as a luxury sports sedan. In real world driving I found it to be equally suited to long interstate trips and challenging mountain roads with tight corners. Its ride smoothness and maneuverability is due to its improved fully independent suspension design coupled with speed- dependent power-assisted steering. Safe all-weather stopping is aided by its updated four-wheel disc braking arrangement and ABS. A lot of insulation and close fitting weather stripping ensures a very quiet ride at touring speeds.

PERFORMANCE: An all-new all-aluminum 3.0 liter V-6 engine and an improved automatic transmission make up the powertrain of the 1994 ES 300. This new engine retains its multi-valve dual overhead cam configuration, and has added direct, distributorless ignition for more efficiency and less maintenance. The new V-6 is lighter and meets the stricter 1994 emission regulations with no decrease in performance or fuel economy. The compression ratio has been raised and it now develops slightly more horsepower and torque. The already crisp shifting electronically controlled automatic transmission has had some design revisions add a little more to performance and economy.

CONCLUSION: The most popular and best selling Lexus has been made even better.

SPECIFICATIONS:
1994 LEXUS ES 300 SEDAN

           
           Base Price              $  30,600
           Price As Tested         $  34,385
           Engine Type             V-6, dohc 24 valve, mpfi
           Engine Size             3.0 liter/181 cid
           Horsepower              188 @ 5200
           Torque (ft/lbs)         203 @ 4400
           Wheelbase/Length        103"/188"
           Transmission            four speed automatic w/od 
           Curb Weight             3380
           Pounds per Horsepower   18
           Fuel Capacity           18
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded premium (91 oct)
           Tires                   Goodyear Eagle  GA  P205/65V15
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard   disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine/front drive 
           
                          PERFORMANCE
           
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
             city/highway/observed      18/24/20.4
           0 to 60 mpg                  8.7 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.7 sec 
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)    .32

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