Last post on Aug 14, 2010 at 8:21 AM
You are in the Lexus ES
What is this discussion about?
Lexus ES 300, Lexus ES 330, Sedan
Oct 11, 2001 (10:36 am)
I think the engine of the new ES was left alone for a few reasons:
1. I can't see Lexus putting more power in the ES than the GS 300.
2. The Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle rating was a priority, and a stronger engine would not have produced such a rating.
3. Research from potential buyers indicated power was 8th or 9th most important in terms of factors that affect buying the car. So, improving factors 1-7 were clearly the priority.
4. More expensive cars typically have power boosts mid-way through the vehicle's life cycle, not when a new model is introduced. Examples include the Acura TL-S, Infiniti I35 (vs. I30), BMW 330i (vs. 328i) and MB E430 (vs. E420). Sure enough the extra power will come. Perhaps in a few years when the RX and GS are redone we'll see an ES 350. The I35 and TL-S needed something to keep themselves fresh.
5. While more power would be nice in the new ES, the car has so many other appealing traits that I think it still is better than its competitors. I would not want more power at the expense of, say, a cheaper interior.
Don't forget to look at Jaguar, since their situation is similar to Lexus. The all-new X-Type loaded is $45,000, yet 0-60 it is only 7.9 seconds. Why didn't they put in a bigger engine?
As for your other comment, Lexus could never drop the GS 300. It caters to a very different crowd by nature of it being RWD. It is Lexus' only competitor against two key rivals, the BMW 530i and MB E320. If the GS 300 was dropped Lexus would not have a 6-cylinder RWD competitor.
And why would you lower the price of the GS 430? It's already thousands less than its main rivals, the BMW 540i and MB E430.
The Lexus lineup is very good right now in terms of price. The top-end ES is just under the bottom GS 300, while the top GS 430 is just under the LS 430. If the GS 430 price was lowered there would be a big gap between it and the LS.
As someone who has ordered a 2002 ES 300 I can tell you this: Would I have liked more power? Absolutely. But the car is by no means slow, and overall I find it to be a fantastic car and the best in its class.
Oct 11, 2001 (6:10 pm)
You made some very good points, some things I didn't take the time to think about. However, I do take issue with some of your thoughts.
1. lenscap said - "As for your other comment, Lexus could never drop the GS 300. It caters to a very different crowd by nature of it being RWD."
You say this, yet in your opening statement you say that you can't see putting more power in the ES than in the GS300. Sounds like being worried about stepping on the GS's toes which shouldn't be an issue if the GS300 caters to a very different crowd.
2. This is a question to you lenscap - why is the ultra low vehicle emissions rating a high priority. Is this required in certain states? Here I am showing my ignorance since I am not familiar with what that gets Lexus other than the obvious that lower emissions is a good thing.
3. lenscap said "More expensive cars typically have power boosts mid-way through the vehicle's life cycle, not when a new model is introduced."
When the ES300 was redesigned for 1997, the horsepower went from 185 to 200. I agree that there will most likely be a mid life kicker in another couple of years but because the ES design cycle is off by several years compared to the TL and I35, it makes it look as if Lexus has to play catch up on a brand new model. The old Maxima 3.0L engine, I believe, cranked out 225HP. All I am saying is that Lexus probably could have tweaked the software at no additional expense to get the HP up to 220 as more of a marketing tool than anything else. Then in a few years, yes, put a 3.3 or better yet, 3.5L engine in there and really have a serious legitimate boost in power/performance. This would show the people that were concerned about power that they at least made an attempt to address this issue now. I realize it's just a numbers game but alot of people get caught up in the numbers when doing comparison shopping.
4. My suggestion to drop the GS300 was wrong in retrospect. I completely ignored the fact that it is rear wheel drive. My thinking was that maybe the lineup was getting too crowded and there was compression taking place causing design compromises to be made so as no to overshadow other models. I reasoned that if the GS300 were not there, the ES could probably grow slighly in performance to satisfy both it's current buyers as well as buyers of the GS300. Then the people who were after serious performance would go for the GS430. The suggestion of then dropping the GS430's price would be to allow more people to be able to afford a serious luxury performance sedan if the ES300 was not their cup of tea. However, I realize that Lexus sells a fairly large number of GS300's, much more than the GS430 and they surely wouldn't take the chance of losing those sales to the competition.
Thanks for taking the time to point out some things I hadn't thought of.
#1600 of 5443 More power for the ES?
Oct 12, 2001 (4:54 am)
I don't think that this is a good idea unless you're a big fan of torque steer. (The tests that I've seen of the new V-6 Altima have sharply criticized it for this.) I'm also inclined to think that more horses won't sell more ES 300s. Driving enthusiasts who like more power don't like FWD, so they'll continue to avoid buying the ES. Lexus has apparently decided to aim the ES at the non-enthusiast who values style & comfort over handling & acceleration, & I think that they're right to do so. I've said it before: the ES is a boulevard cruiser (& a fine one at that), not a sports sedan.
The Lexus that could really use more ponies is the GS 300. With an extra 25 or 30 HP, a firmer suspension & (I know I'm dreaming here) an optional 6-speed manual, this car could pull enthusiasts into Lexus showrooms. And because it's RWD, it can more effectively transmit this extra power to the pavement than any FWD car could.
I think that the Lexus lineup as it stands now is a strong one, but if I had to change it, I'd drop the ES - not because it's a bad car - it's actually quite good - but because FWD is not a luxury attribute. Enthusiasts don't like it because of what it does to handling & luxury buyers view it as a mass-market characteristic. From a marketing perspective, having an FWD entry in its lineup undercuts the Lexus message that its cars are as good as anything from BMW & Mercedes. It might make more sense to drop FWD altogether & instead refine the IS into a real 3-series killer & build the GS into a more potent 5-series & E-Class competitor.
#1601 of 5443 What I would change on the ES
Oct 12, 2001 (5:24 am)
I hope that in the next year or two Lexus adds these items to the ES:
#1: More horsepower (min. 240 hp would be nice)
#2: New rims (I don't like the new ones; I like the 15" and 16" ones from the 2001 a lot better. At least give me an option for another sporty style rim like the new ones on the TL type-S) The TL had really ugly rims (IMHO) before now both the premium and Type-S have very nice rims.
At least give me the 16" rims from 2001. I know the ES is now tailored for luxury not sport but I just don't like busy rims on the 2002.
#3: Add the wood back to the switch plate on the door. I have it on my 2000 and my 1997 before that and I never scratch them. It just seems like something is missing when all I see is plastic there.
#4: If it's true that the stereo can not be controlled from the steering wheel, please add this feature. Someone please let me know if this is true. I've heard conflicting stories on this on this message board abouth this.
Oct 12, 2001 (5:47 am)
You make some excellent points.
About the comment on not adding more power to the ES because it would have more than the GS: My feeling is this is along the lines of you don't want a cheaper car having more power than a more expensive car. But I could be wrong.
The ULEV rating I think is required in California only. I believe it will be required in all states in a 3-5 years. I guess it's not that important to the average consumer, but those things have always been important to Lexus (it was a big topic at the owners focus group I attended in February). As you'll recall, the 1990 LS 400 was the only V8 luxury car at the time not to have a gas guzzler tax.
I agree more power would have been nice in the new ES. But I think in general I'm the exception. I really believe more power in this type of car would not sell more cars. Also, more power costs money. And to keep the price where it is, if you add power something else has to be cut (like using cheaper interior materials).
As for jimbres' comment, I wonder if down the road the ES is dropped for a comparable RWD car. Toyota has many of them in Japan, including what used to be sold here as the Cressida (similar size, amenities, etc.).
c3po33 -- There are no radio controls on the steering wheel, either standard or optional. Just cruise control and trip computer buttons.
#1603 of 5443 Jimbres, re: role of FWD for Lexus
Oct 12, 2001 (5:51 am)
Interesting discussion here!
My view is that you are correct in terms of the view of FWD by enthusiasts (not a handling feature) and to a lesser extent for luxury buyers (its a mass market feature). However, I think Lexus has very likely researched the "perceived" benefits of FWD that the mass market believes, in terms of improved safe traction in inclement weather, for instance. So while it may be a mass-market characteristic, it does have some familiarity and value among a big part of their target audience -- Toyota trade-ups. Also, since they can reap big economies of scale cross-sharing platforms with Toyota Camry FWD, this gives them the chance to hit very compelling price (and profit) points.
So they are taking a broader view of the market than MB or BMW, with a broader portfolio to capture more market share. And since Toyota has such a massive (and loyal) customer base, they can "mine" that ready-made target audience -- predisposed to FWD -- and trade them up to a more luxurious vehicle and a wonderful, exclusive dealer experience, which is very much a big part of the perceived prestige appeal of MB/BMW.
Different targets see different, compelling aspects of the brand. For mass-market drivers wanting a better experience, Lexus is aspirational and elite, and FWD platforms give them a way to access a broader audience to increase their market share. For Premium/German car drivers, Lexus offers comparable performance with RWD, with better vehicle reliability (and pricing) and arguably a better dealer service experience.
This is a car company that is doing it all, and taking deliberate steps to strengthen and broaden its appeal -- at a highly profitable margin.
I am not a Lexus owner -- yet. Currently drive MB SLK320, used to drive Audi A4, and prior to that, Honda Accord and CRX si, and prior to that, Ford Escort, Mercury Bobcat and Buick Skylark (dad's '68 350 V8!).
See how this trade-up thing works? The automakers know this. You gotta love America and our freedom of self-determination and improvement!
#1605 of 5443 some insights
Oct 12, 2001 (7:23 am)
This is what I gathered during my visit to Far East--
--GS 300 is rumored to be dropped
-New GS looks a lot like SC from front
-RX gets more tow capacity, more power and third row seating
-GS430 price will not drop--hp around 340
-SC300 is supposed to be introduced with price around mid 40s
Okay now for some dream suggestions and to give my wonderful ideas for es300:
-yes the wood power window area plates are a must
-Steering must be power tilt away and telescopic 4 way
--addparktronic--park assist as an option
--beef up the premium package--must add heated seats and hid, wood steering to package to give more savings to consumers (inflated right now)
--dont care about power--find its speedy and very fuel efficient 21/29
-maybe add voice recognition to nav some day
okay over and out
Oct 12, 2001 (8:52 am)
What were you doing in the Far East, and where did you get your info? It all sounds interesting!
I find it hard to believe the GS 300 would be dropped. It's annual sales since the redesign in 1998 have been vitually even with the BMW 5-Series (it's main competitor along with the MB E320).
I've also heard that the LS 430 will get a power boost in the next 1-2 years to bring it over 300 hp.
Oct 12, 2001 (12:10 pm)
I am a senior executive at a major hi-tech firm and have factories I travel to there--I have to go there every two to three months though lately I get nausea just at the thought of travel:)
I have visited Tahara where GS is actually made and have seen one being made
SC300 should be interesting--my wife will grab it--I know:)
I hope they offer natural wood color on LS UL package instead of the current selection
Again we have to acknowledge that between a design paper to actual design a lot will change-so anything we say will be still considered speculation--But this was pretty convincing for me
On GS-maybe you are right--but they feel iS has been a loser and they will beef it up to make it a RWD winner, GS430 will be the upscale one, SC300 and 430 will wrap up convertibles--ES330 a good entry luxury.
Did you know an interesting trivia: The ES330 was originally scheduled for this year but because of ULEV standards not met and other issues, it was shelved only one month later--instead that effort focused on making it luxurious--also es was targeted to be priced at 45K--but then it would have cut into GS300 and no one would have bought it also