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    Quick Drive: 2014 Lexus ES 350


    • Is the Better Lexus the Buick LaCrosse or Lexus ES 350?

    For awhile, the best Buick you could buy was a Lexus ES. Lexus was able to take the formula that Buick had worked so hard on proving a smooth and comfortable car and just do it better. But Buick is back on the upswing. The recently refreshed LaCrosse shows that Buick is back and wanting to challenge the ES on territory it once held. So which is the better model; the LaCrosse or the ES? I spent some time in the 2014 ES 350 to try answer this.

    The ES 350’s exterior looks awkward as it seems Lexus was trying to make the ES look somewhat sportier, while retaining some of the handsomeness of previous models. The front has the spindle grille with flat bars running across and a set of headlights with LEDs running along the outer edges. Around back, Lexus designers gave it upright and flat look with a new trunk lid. While the ES now has some style, it comes at the cost of looking like a bloated GS.

    Thankfully the interior avoids the awkwardness. Again, there is a bit of GS influence for the ES’ interior, but Lexus made sure to make ES a bit more inviting. That means cream leather for the seats and bamboo trim along the dash and door panels. The dashboard itself is similar to the GS with a flat face and simple layout of controls. Space-wise, the ES 350 is very impressive. Back seat passengers will find plenty of legroom and headroom. Trunk space measures out to 15.2 cubic feet, slightly larger than the Buick LaCrosse’s 13.3 cubic feet trunk.

    Lexus’ Enform infotainment system came equipped on my tester which features a new interface which makes it easier to navigate around. However, the remote touch controller is still makes controlling the system tough since you have to move it and press down on it carefully on the function you want. One wrong move and you’ll end up in a function that you didn’t want.

    Power comes from a 3.5L V6 with 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up to a six-speed automatic. The 3.5L V6 is a perfect match for the ES as it provides smooth acceleration throughout and NVH levels that rival Buick’s LaCrosse. The six-speed automatic provided silky smooth shifts and didn’t show any signs of confusion. Fuel economy is rated at 21 City/31 Highway/24 Combined. My average landed around 23 MPG.

    On the ride and handling front, the ES 350 provides a seemingly smooth ride. The suspension makes sure potholes and road imperfections are smoothed out and don’t make their way into the cabin. One downside is the amount of road noise that come into the cabin. I put the blame on the Bridgestone tires that the ES came equipped with. Out on the curves, the ES 350 does show some sign of body roll if you push it. Keep in mind the ES 350 is meant to be a cruiser, not a curve bruiser.

    After a week with the Lexus ES 350, I think it does certain things better than the LaCrosse and vice versa. The ES 350 has a much more potent engine, better NVH levels in the engine, and a larger trunk than the LaCrosse. However, the LaCrosse is a bit more quieter, features a better infotainment control system, and looks much nicer than the ES 350.

    So which is better car? While the Lexus ES 350 is a nice improvement over previous models, the Buick LaCrosse is the better car.

    Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the ES 350, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Lexus

    Model: ES

    Trim: 350

    Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve VVT-i V6

    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 268 @ 6,200

    Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 4,700

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/31/24

    Curb Weight: 3,549 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan

    Base Price: $36,470

    As Tested Price: $43,105 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Hard Disk Drive Navigation with Lexus Inform: $2,625

    Luxury Package: $1,370

    High Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlights: $565.00

    Intuitive Parking Assist: $500.00

    Bamboo & Leather Trimmed Shift Knob and Heated Wood & Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel: $300.00

    Power Rear Sunshade: $210.00

    Rain Sensing Wipers with Deicer: $155.00

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    I know they don't attract the same type of buyer, but around here the "premium" fwd sedan bargain is currently the clearout Nissan Maxima, something like 10K+ off sticker.

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      273
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      273
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      8
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      585
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      585
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      12,282
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      -15
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      81,790
      84,841
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      -3.6
      81,790
      84,841
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      -3.6
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      24
      24
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      24
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    • By William Maley
      They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine.
      Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate.  Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner.  Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Forester
      Trim: 2.0XT Touring
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan
      Base Price: $34,295
      As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Option Package 34 - $1,595.00
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