Thursday, February 21, 2013

Used Car Review - Lexus ES350 (2009-2012)

Camry na Lexus? O Lexus na Camry? A lot of people, including Myk Belmonte are confused about the magic of this vehicle.

2009-2012 Lexus ES350

Let's go back in the year 1989 when the Lexus brand was launched. The first vehicle to be launched was the LS400 that targeted the top sedans sold by Mercedes and BMW. Alongside the LS, the ES250 made its public debut in the North American International Auto Show during that year. If the LS is an all original model, the ES is based from the Toyota Camry.

After four generations, the XV40 ES350 was available for purchase in February 2006. This vehicle saw the usage of a six-speed automatic and does not have any resemblance with its Japanese cousins (the previously related Toyota Windom was discontinued). Kengo Matsumoto was responsible for the design that happened in 2002 and 2004 with design patents being filed on December 27, 2005. One fact: despite that this vehicle is built in Japan, it is not available in its home country nor at any right hand drive markets. It received a minor model change in 2009 and ended production in 2012, with the Toyota Avalon based ES being launched.

Together with four other models, the Lexus ES350 reached Philippine shores in January 2009. At the same time with the Camry, this one received a facelift in August of the same year. Lexus Manila ceased sales of the XV40 in July 2012 with the release of the sixth generation model.

Value and Costs
You have P2.5M in your hands and want more than the top of the line Camry that your high school classmate owns? Then you don't need to scrimp on your lunch or the need to take economy class during your business trips, you can now buy a pre-owned ES350 for just between P1,700,000-P2,500,000. And while you're at it, why not proceed to Lexus Manila and scour for a certified pre-owned unit for some assurance.

Maintenance costs can be identical to a Camry 3.5V but somewhat higher due to the added gadgets and other electronic goodies. But don't fret, even with a used Lexus, you get the same dealer treatment since Lexus dealers are rated above in dealer satisfaction surveys anywhere in the world.

Exterior and Interior
With a sleek design, driving one is a statement. It may not attract stares than a BMW or a Benz, but its a symbol of understated luxury, as what Dinzo Tabamo wrote on his article in the December 2009 issue of Top Gear Philippines. There is nothing much to say about the outside.

A strength of Lexuses are the impeccable interior quality. Leather and wood comfort the occupants, with the key proximity sensor taking care of your security and the preferred seating adjustment can cool the cabin. Standard inside is the Lexus Premium Sound System that prefers classic rock than the latest singles released by Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas. Why do I say so? Playing the latest R&B and pop tunes can make the sound system "basag pakingan" but if you're planning to play classical songs, the interior can turn into a music museum since they blend in. Before your passengers ride in the comfortable and cozy cabin (its very roomy inside), make sure they choose the driving music wisely not to spoil the experience.

No need for a lengthy description since the sole engine choice is a 2GR-FE 3,456cc which carries 272hp at 6,000rpm and 344Nm at 4,700rpm. It may not offer sports car-like speed but it is one great companion for a smooth ride.  This description also goes with the Camry's V6 engine

Driving Impressions
Well composed and comfortable, your passengers can almost sleep inside the ES350's interior. There are tons of leather to keep them relaxed. The driver can push the accelerator more but don't expect any great handling, it wants to be in a straight line. This is the matured version of the Camry.

Owning a Lexus is one hell of an experience, which you cannot get with a top of the line Camry. Sure, you can almost save a million bucks for getting a Toyota, but the Lexus? Priceless. Thanks to depreciation, the Pursuit of Perfection can be yours for less but the ownership experience is the same.

The Good:
  • Quality is unparalleled
  • Opulent interior
  • Great dealership experience even if you have a second hand unit
The Bad: 
  • Badge engineering at its finest
  • Camry for a million bucks more
  • Not the drivers car
The Pick: Any well maintained unit will do

Engine: 3,456cc 2GR-FE V6 gasoline
Power: 272hp @ 6,200rpm
Torque: 344Nm @ 4,700rpm
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 9-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link

Price (New): P3,718,000
Price (Now): P1,700,000-P2,500,000
Rivals: Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes Benz C Class, Jaguar XF, Volvo S60 Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Azera, Hyundai Genesis sedan, Nissan Teana
On Sale: 2009-2012

Lexus Manila - (02) 856-5050

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