COAL Update: 2016 Lexus ES350 After 10,000 miles

Not me or my car, but it is my color!

I passed “my” first 10,000 miles in the Japanese Buick.

When I took delivery in late September, 2017, it was at 13,875 and as we hit “publish” on this, we stand at 24,533 miles. I rolled up on 23,875 last Friday, January 5, 2018, which was 10,000 miles in about 16 weeks. Or 625 miles a week on average.

A 2016 GS like I test drove

So how have things been so far? Pretty darn good. I don’t regret or have second thoughts about passing on the GS350 I drove. The GS is a fine car, and felt heavier and more expensive than the ES (because it is on both counts). But it felt smaller inside, with a firmer ride. And to be the “sportier” sedan, the GS has a somewhat upright profile to me. The ES looks lower, leaner, and more flowing to me. But that’s purely subjective.

I will note for the benefit of the GS owners and lovers out there, that the clear majority of the “cool” employees at my Lexus dealer cite the GS or F-Sport GS as their favorite Lexus in the bio section of the web site.

Our Title Clerk, Gladys, loves her ES350!

All the elderly ladies who work the front desk or in the office, cite their ES and their grandchildren as their favorite two things in the world. So there, you’re cool and I’m a dork.

The new Accord. The way the fenders, hood and header panel over the grill meet up looks sloppy, to me. Like they got to that point and couldn’t decide what to do.

I really like the 2018 Accord, and maybe I should have waited to at least test drive one first. A comparably equipped 2018 Accord Touring is about the price I paid, but has a 1.5 liter four and a CVT. Some people would prefer that, others like me would not. The 2.0 liter is optional and there is no more V6. I feel like I got more car for the same money, buying slightly used, which I guess is often the point of doing so. And I have had the best dealership experience I’ve ever had, by far, with Lexus.

The 2018 Camry. A few too many Fast and Furious styling points for my taste, but nice overall.

But if someone chooses a new Accord or a new Camry over an ES (or an Acura), I can’t fault them for that.

For the mixed driving I do, 20%/30%/50% apportioned among city/country/interstate, the ES is a good car for me.

The “wrench” and 6311 are counting down miles to the next oil change.

It has been quiet and comfortable, and I average right at 30 mpg in mixed driving, tank after tank. I’m happy with that and it’s considerably better than the EPA ratings (21 city, 30 highway, 24 combined). On an interstate trip of 300 miles or so I do every other week, I usually get 34 mpg.

My 6 foot, 6 inch co-worker fits in the front seat comfortably, and a less tall adult can still sit behind him with his seat all the way back.

The stereo, HVAC and other cabin controls have been to my liking. It all seems pretty intuitive. The HVAC especially is oddly silent under most conditions. Better than any Mercedes I have had. The 36 (!) presets on the stereo are nice to have; more than you need, for a change.

The Weather Channel information (current conditions and three day forecast for where the car is, and big cities nationwide) and traffic info (wrecks, slowdowns, construction) is provided free over HD airwaves. I don’t know the inner workings of that, but it’s great and works well.

The nav re-routes around wrecks and the like (after asking you first), with no subscription service ever needed. My son’s Jeep had this feature when it was new, but it was a trial and then you have to subscribe (which we didn’t).

The remote start feature is part of Lexus Enform, a subscription service that gives you a web portal and a smart phone app. In addition to remote starting, you can lock and unlock the car, check the odometer, oil condition, oil level, and other things, all from your phone. It also sends emails and push alerts to your phone if you left it unlocked, if the alarm goes off, if service is needed soon, etc.

The home screen on the app. You can set up “guest drivers” and get alerts if they exceed MPH, mileage or distance settings.

It is free for a year with a new Lexus, but I had to pay. I bought the cheapest package that would give me remote start. I think it is $225.00 a year. It’s fun to play with but I don’t think I’ll renew, because a. the remote start won’t go through half the time, b. I have a garage now, c. the price seems steep for what it is, and d. I can keep up with checking the dipstick and when it is time for an oil change on my own. I wish they’d just put a remote start button on the smart key.

It’s unlocked in the garage. It sends this data every time it is turned off, but you can also “refresh” and the app will contact the car for an update.

The one time I was glad I had Lexus Enform, my youngest son and I went on a river camping trip for four nights with his Scout troop about 300 miles from home. We all left our Dad cars at a boat ramp lot, and canoed for four days and nights down the river, setting up camp at clearings on the shore designated for such. We had been warned that there were regular break-ins and thefts of these unattended cars. I could ask the app to check the current status of the car, and it would come back 20 seconds later with a report of the GPS location of the car, doors locked, no alarms triggered, etc. That was nice peace of mind, but I’m not going river camping on a regular basis.

I have gotten used to the rear cross-path detection, front and rear parking assist, and the overly vigilant lane keeping nanny.

The rear cross-path detection has saved me from more than one bad parking lot accident that probably would have been my fault. My boys told me the Lexus had made me a worse driver, which is probably true. I would be more careful if I didn’t have all the electronic help.

I have scraped the low front chin more than once, but it doesn’t show. It is annoying to feel on guard about it all the time, however.

The paint seems to scratch quite easily. I don’t know if it is cheaper, softer, and or/thinner clear coat than I am used to, or what. The cats always sit on Bertha and don’t scratch her black paint. If they get on the Lexus and drag or slide a paw at all, I have to buff the scratches out. After I ran through a “soft cloth” car wash one very busy week, it looked like complete hell. Like someone had washed it with dry paper towels. I gave it a good rubbing out with my favorite wax and it looked fine, thank goodness. So just hand washes from now on.

I’ve tweaked a few things I found lacking in the ES.

The speaker grilles molded into the door panels look very plain and cheap. I don’t know why there isn’t at least a chrome ring around them. When I installed the Polk speakers, they came with silver emblems you could attach to your factory grilles, so that small tweak makes them look more finished to me.

I mentioned in my first write-up that the lower door panels were hard plastic. That includes the door pockets, which are not lined in any way. Anything you throw down in there just slides and rattles around. I found these rubber mats on ebay which were cheap, and work.

Keys, sunglasses, phones, whatever stays put and rides silently now. They came molded to fit all four doors and the center console storage as well.

The seat controls were black plastic and a little too cheap looking. I found these brushed metal covers online.

The 20,000 mile service was free, and was oil/filter, cabin filter, wipers, rotate tires, and inspect all the usual stuff underneath. I had a sticking power window switch that they replaced.

I’ll go for the 25,000 mile service soon because it is free, but otherwise I would skip these “in between the oil changes” visits to the dealer, I think. It’s just “rotate the tires and inspect” everything underneath for most models built the past 4 years or so.

Prior to that model year, the oil and filter changes are every 5,000 miles as well, so you are there anyway if you are a dealer service person. I think every 10,000 miles is often enough, when you have the oil/filter change and other more meaningful things to be done at 10,000 mile intervals. They do give you a new Lexus to drive and a good wash, so that’s a plus.

I bought the Toyota-specific oil filter wrench and a couple of Toyota filters, for after the free oil changes end. I’ll probably do them myself, unless something more is called for, which isn’t often.

A brake fluid flush is called for every 30,000 miles, which seems excessive for a vehicle that isn’t out fjording rivers on a regular basis. I’ll get a free one of those at 30,000 but I think I can wait until 90,000 on the next one, which will be less than three years away for me. If anyone wants to tell me this is penny wise and pound foolish, I invite constructive criticism. I can’t decide if I shouldn’t second guess Lexus, or if 30,000 mile brake flushes are just a waste.

I have had occasional second thoughts about a used LS. But, I remind myself that as great a luxury car as the LS is, a comparable year and mileage LS darn near twice the price I paid. An LS two years older, with four times the mileage, was still $10,000.00 more. I would have warranty to 2019 instead of 2022 like I have. And the financing was bank rate, not 0.9% like I have. It wasn’t worth all that extra cost price-wise and interest-wise to me, right now, with three kids just embarking on their college years.

But the LS is as “smooth as a giant stick of butter” as they would say on Coffee Talk, in a way the ES and GS aren’t.

Maybe I can get a used 2019 LS next, someday. They’ve certainly gone all in on the gaping grille motif, but I like the unusual mesh treatment. Two years of college for the oldest one down, and the middle starts this Fall! Maybe someone will need a hand-me-down ES to start their working life.