- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The popular Lexus ES model continues with a new numeric designation indicating a larger, more powerful engine for 2004. This addition transforms the ES330 into a more capable and enthusiastic sedan. The larger 3.3-liter, V-6 engine increases horsepower to 225 and 240 foot-pounds of torque. This change is sure to help keep the ES330 at the top of many buyers’ lists.

Power is just part of the formula to make a vehicle popular. It not only has to have performance, it must also provide comfort while performing the daily duties of our active lives. The EX330 does just that with the luxury and practicality we expect from Lexus.

Power is transferred to the front wheels through an automatic transmission that is equipped with grade logic software. Lexus has given us a transmission that quickly learns the driver’s techniques and adjusts accordingly. It is weighted heavily toward comfort level.

The ES330 incorporates features from the flagship LS430, adding luxurious equipment such as water-repellent front-door glass and courtesy lighting in all four doors, to lighting the ground and sills. The front passenger seat has a power lumbar adjustment. Another feature borrowed form the LS430 is the power rear sunshade that automatically lowers when the transmission is shifted into reverse.

Happily, Lexus offers adjustable accelerator and brake pedals as an option. While I feel this feature should be standard equipment, I am just happy to see it being obtainable. They are available with a memory feature.

While the family resemblance exterior styling remains, the ES330 offers many features that enhance the driving experience. The improved aerodynamics are achieved by designing a near flat underbody, allowing air to slip over and under the car, reducing air turbulence. This in turn reduces wind noise intruding into the passenger compartment.

The ES330 is equipped a sound system with Automatic Sound Level (ASL). And even though the outside ambient noise is held to a minimum, this “smart” volume control automatically adjusts the volume up or down in response to the amount of noise intruding into the passenger compartment.

The optional Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) assists the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle in a variety of conditions. Many feel stability control is important only in foul weather and do not equip their vehicle with this feature. However, in testing I have seen these systems to be equally important in dry weather. The system essentially reads the vehicle attitude on the road and if the system senses even a slight out-of-control situation it applies minute braking at the appropriate wheel to assist the driver in keeping control.

The ES330 offers Lexus luxury in a pleasant package that enjoys increased performance The ES330 is a sedan you will be happy to drive and even happier to own, considering its reliability factor.

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