After our first long trip in the car, here’s my list of raves and complaints:
*It’s incredibly comfortable.* The seats are comfortable and are the most configurable car seats I know of. They go up, down, forward and back, even the lower part of the seat can move fore and aft to give you a longer seating platform that can reach to the backs of your knees. It also has a lumbar control that has quite a range of movement. The ride is very smooth and quiet. And even though it’s one inch narrower than the Jeep, it has more legroom than the Jeep due to its huge transmission case between the seats.
*Navigation System.* I have only used one other nav system extensively, and this beats it hands-down. The touch screen alone makes it much easier to use, but I’m already using voice commands to set destinations while driving, something I don’t do on the Jeep. The screen is very high-res so everything is clear and the screen is much bigger than on the Jeep. While driving, the intersection and on/off-ramps are much easier to understand. It knows if the ramps are on the left or right and draws a picture that actually does look like the real ramp. It even knows how many lanes the highways are. It’s easy to scroll around and it tells you the distance the cursor is from you current position, so it’s easy to see how many miles you are away from a location. It’s much easier to create multiple destinations and you can select which one you want easily. It will show the miles and time to the location or the ETA of the destination. It also has a night mode so the map display changes from black print on white to white print on black, reducing the brightness in the cabin at night. I wish the Jeep had this because it can get very bright inside the cabin. This nav system is also much much faster than the Jeep’s… if you alter your route, it quickly readjusts. The Jeep’s system does “Recalculating route…” for too long.
*Keyless entry.* Just being near the car with the key fob in your pocket is enough to get in and open the car. No fumbling around for the fob to hit the unlock button, which is especially handy when you’re carrying something. You just walk up to the car, open the door, get in and hit the Start button without ever taking your keys out of your pocket. If it’s dark out, the interior lights even fade to on when you walk up to the car. Being able to open the trunk this way is even handier because your hands are almost always full when you need to open the trunk. The trunk power closer saves your hands from getting wet grabbing the trunk lid. To lock the car, you just hit the button on the door handle, still no reason to take the key out of your pocket. Until you have a car that has true keyless entry, you won’t know how nice it is. All cars will eventually do this, I’m sure. It won’t let you lock your key in the car, so Gay’s key that she left in the car often prevented me from locking it without hitting the button on the key fob. It’s good design to prevent me from locking my key in the car, of course, but unless you pay attention you don’t know why your doors won’t lock until you realize the other key is in the car (and you curse at your wife). I imagine I’ll walk away from it thinking it’s locked when it’s not.
*XM radio.* I prefer Sirius that we have in the Jeep because of its content (Howard Stern, NFL Radio, music channels, etc.), but XM’s reception is far superior. We rarely lost reception even on windy roads far from a large city and never lose it in the Seattle area. Sirius’ reception is very spotty in comparison. Hopefully the Sirius/XM merger will be approved and we’ll get the best of both worlds. The killer feature of XM in the car is XM NavTraffic™ which shows traffic congestion on highways. The navigation woman that speaks even tells you about the traffic, she says things like “In 20 miles, traffic is slow for 1 mile”.
*Auto headlights.* You can put the headlights in “Auto” which turns them on when it gets dark. But it’s not sensitive enough so they don’t go on until nighttime. At dusk or in heavy rain (which we were in), you have to turn them on manually. The Jeep seems to do this better. The Jeep also has auto highbeams that turn on and off when there’s no oncoming headlights. This is the one feature of the Jeep I’ve found that the Lexus lacks.
*Climate control.* Completely automatic. You just set the temperature and forget about it. You don’t need to turn the fan up or down at all, which is good because that requires that you navigate through the touch screen to do. You cannot hear the climate control system either, it must spin the fans up and down very slowly so you don’t hear them start.
*Gutters.* Lexus even designed the openings well. When it’s raining and you open the trunk, water doesn’t run into the trunk from the rear window or the opened trunk door, it’s all caught in a gutter around the trunk. The same is true for the doors. All cars should do this, I hate opening a door and getting my hand or sleeve splashed with cold water.
*An ash tray?!* I thought auto-makers did away with ash trays years ago and the lighters were now called “Power Outlets”. Not in this car, there’s two ash trays and two cigarette lighters. Who buys a $70K car and smokes in it?!? I asked the dealer about it and they claimed that Lexus took the ash tray out of a model years ago and got so many complaints that people had nowhere to put their gum wrappers. I don’t think I believe that, Lexus would have just made a trash can because 1) everything else is clearly designed for its intended purpose and 2) the ash tray does not make a good trash can.
*MPG.* It’s rated at 16/24 city/highway (on the new 2008 EPA system, “which is different”:http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/ratings2008.shtml than pre-2008) and we got 19.7 on the first tank, which was probably 50/50 city/highway driving. So the ratings are pretty accurate. I expect that to improve slightly over the next few months. This is a far cry from the 10 MPG the Jeep gets.
*It’s understated.* This is what attracted me to it in the first place. It’s something that reviewers ding it on a lot, but those reviewers must have such low self-esteem that they need their car to “turn heads”. BMWs and Mercedes aren’t exactly flashy either compared to a Ferrari, but they do seem to stand out more than a Lexus. Frankly, I can barely tell the difference between the Lexus GS, ES or LS from the outside and that’s good, in my opinion. I prefer that the outside impresses few but the inside impresses me.
I love this car and love to drive it. I may turn into a car dork yet.