November 25, 2012
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On my way home tonight, a co-worker asked me if I was headed to my lawn bowling game. Okay, that was pretty funny, and yes, this vehicle may appeal to the older (and wiser) crowd, but perhaps we respect and realize they are wiser for a reason — this is one nice car to drive!
And who doesn’t want to drive a car that has virtually zero wind noise out on the highway, absolutely no road noise, and makes you forget bumps on the road even exist? The ES300h does all that, and it looks good doing it. I will make no excuses: I like to be coddled just as much as I like to have some fun.
Driving feel is pretty much nil in the ES, but that’s okay. What other car can you drive around with one finger on the steering wheel and feel totally in control? Road feel is also zero. The ground was a little wet this morning; I made a quick getaway from a stop sign and the front wheels slipped as I accelerated away, but I really didn’t feel anything in the steering wheel or from the gas pedal, I just heard the tires squeal.
Although the ES is a very large car, the back-up camera makes parking easy enough, and visibility is okay but not exceptional. The A-pillar is on the large side and, coupled with the larger mirrors, make for large blind spots when driving around parking lots or at dangerous corners where traffic is coming from multiple angles.
The gasoline engine and electric motor work perfectly together, like every other Toyota/Lexus hybrid. The system switches between the two virtually seamlessly, and if you aren’t paying specific attention, you wouldn’t know when the engine is running or not. You can hear the engine — barely — if you step on the gas hard. The car responds with a surge of smooth acceleration due to the torque from the electric motor and the CVT transmission, but you do not get the annoying “buzz” or hum from a droning engine, thanks to excessive amounts of sound insulation.