Tag Archives: lexus

New Addition to the Garage: 2014 Lexus IS 350 RWD

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Either I’m growing up or I’ve completely lost my marbles. Yes, you read that title correct: I’ve added another car to the fleet which will be slowly taking over the daily driving duties. Welcome to my 2014 Lexus IS 350 F-Sport RWD in Obsidian.

When it comes to cars, I tend to get caught up in my own little world and forget to tell friends and family what I’m up to. Showing up with this Lexus certainly caught a lot of people by surprise. More shocking, I’ve surrendered to the two-pedal lifestyle?! As Lexus no longer offers a manual transmission option on their IS, automatic was my only way to go. But why Lexus?

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My search criteria for a replacement daily was simple: V6, premium, Japanese, that wasn’t Infiniti. That left Acura and Lexus. While I adored my Acura TL 6spd I briefly owned, the J37 V6 was a little too troublesome to get into again. It consumed oil almost as badly as my Mazda, and it had an insistent pinging issue which seems to plague many Acuras of this era if you live in a region with dry heat. I would love a TLX A-spec, but that is far from my budget. I then turned to the 2nd generation Lexus IS 250 6spd, the last generation a manual transmission was offered. One I was able to sample felt slower than any of my other cars and the transmission felt sloppy. No bueno. I did like everything else about it though. Long story short, I decided the 3rd generation IS 350 was the one to hunt for. I wanted one in Obsidian black, rear wheel drive, Mark Levinson sound, navigation and in budget. Months of casually searching the web within a 2,000 mile radius returned nothing. Despite being a fairly popular seller, I was surprised that these were quite hard to find compared to the more affordable IS 250.

With some patience though, one popped up in San Antonio, TX which fit the bill nicely. It was at an independent used car dealer which was very accommodating in performing the transaction over the phone.

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To take delivery, I booked a Southwest one-way flight to San Antonio on Friday, August 23rd, 2019. Flying always gives me the heebee-geebees, but this turned out the be the most economical and efficient way of getting there to sign the papers. Here I am arriving at the airport at 4:30am. No lines!

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Up and away!

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Arrived in San Antonio in just over an hour. Driving would have been nearly 9hrs!

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I took an Uber to the dealer where they were expecting me. Mike, the owner, pulled the Lexus out from the back for my inspection and also handed me the keys to take for a solo test drive.

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This car was by no means perfect. Headlights were oxidized, paint was in need of correction and treatment, steering wheel leather torn, but the rest of the car was sound. Worked out for me since I didn’t want a pristine example where I’d be afraid to drive it. All of these little details are easily fixed and gave me haggling power. What I really liked was this was a one-owner example, always serviced by a Lexus dealer and the miles were mostly highway.

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The rest of the exterior was clean.

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Mileage was just under 100,000, but you couldn’t tell from the solidity and smoothness. I decided it was a keeper so I headed back to sign the final papers. Here’s the official key hand off.

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Beginning mileage of my ownership:

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My first order of business was calling up the nearby Lexus Dominion dealer to see if they could get me in for an oil change. I had no idea what kind of oil was in this thing, so I rather have peace of mind on the long drive home. Luckily, I was able to get an appointment. On my way, I had to snap a pic of the San Antonio’s postage stamp mural

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Arriving at North Park Lexus at Dominion. The Dominion is a northwest suburb of San Antonio where this car had been serviced since day one.

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Pulling into the service bay.

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This dealer was pretty snazzy with a free Starbucks bar, special Lexus café and they even had a resident masseuse!

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A loaner Lexus NX was offered to me while they performed their services, so I took the opportunity to grab lunch.

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After getting fresh oil and a clean bill of health, I headed towards home on I-10.

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I always enjoy the adventure of buying a car far from home and driving back while learning about the features and quirks. After spending 4+ years in early 2000-era cars, it was nice to have some modern amenities.

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Bluetooth audio, navigation, smart key access were all missed from my TL. It was sure nice to have those again.

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First fill up!

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Some west Texas landscape. Lots of rain greeted me which in turn, got the Obsidian black paint nice and dirty.

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The Lexus provided a graceful, yet firm ride and very comfortable seats. I’m already envisioning some enjoyable long road trips in this thing.

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Arriving in New Mexico for the first time…at least in my hands.

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I opted to not take the direct route home so I could test some back roads around Carlsbad and Roswell, NM.

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I grabbed a Roswell hotel room for the night.

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The next day, I took my time getting home by thoroughly enjoying central New Mexico landscape.

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Arriving home!

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I promptly took care of a few cosmetic details that were bugging me.

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Some nasty swirls I’ll take care of in the future months with a good detail.

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The biggest eyesore to me were these oxidized headlights. I went ahead and did a few passes of compound to get them more presentable.

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I’m also not a fan of pin striping, so that had to go as well. This stuff was a challenge to get off as it was painted on rather than your typical vinyl application. A little wet sanding was needed in some areas, but eventually I got it all off.

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Much cleaner.

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While I had the Lexus in the garage, I took some time to sit and learn the features and infotainment interface that I couldn’t do while driving. I was surprised to find that this can play DVDs as long as you’re parked.

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The next detail was to replace the worn steering wheel. Rather than attempting to repair it, I figured it was best to swap in a factory wheel in better condition.

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I was able to purchase a clean one from a really cool YouTuber, Jason Nguyen.

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Here’s the complete video of him upgrading to his carbon fiber wheel.

 

Following his process of removing the wheel was actually much easier than I thought…though still nerve-racking.

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His original wheel installed and fully functional. Made a huge improvement to the interior!

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Now, cleaning up those nasty exhaust tips which probably weren’t touched since the car was new. I had to bring out the sandpaper again to get the grime off.

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Before

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After

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That completes the updates for now. Here’s to many new adventures in the Lexus!

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A Drive in a Million Mile Lexus in Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument

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I have yet to experience owning a truly high-mile car (the current 174,000 miles on the Mazda doesn’t count to me). A worn out car with multiple hundreds of thousands of miles is far more impressive to me than a shiny flamboyant Italian hypercar that will fetch multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d love a chance to get up and personal with one. I’m constantly grazing the web finding new stories of high-mile cars and their owners’ stories. Many of you may have heard of: Irv Gordon’s 3 million mile Volvo,  “MillionMileJoe” LoCicero’s Honda Accord, and Hugh Pennington’s Chevy Silverado. Those are just to name a few. Fun stuff for me.

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon an interesting story of a 1996 Lexus LS400 that had a whopping 897,000 miles on it. It was newly purchased by Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire.  Matt bought this Florida-owned LS400 for two main reasons: those crazy miles and to relive a special time in his life when he owned a similar car. To be honest, I never heard of The Smoking Tire or Matt Farah, but thanks to this car, my interest grew. Since then, I’ve been following their stories and challenges posted online.

10 months have gone by and he has been passing the keys of the LS400 around to journalists all over the west coast in an attempt to get this baby up to the 1 million mile mark. Therefore, it’s called #millionmilelexus. So far, multiple journalists have piled on about 25,000 miles.

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I read the story and then that was it…read on to the next story. Not my buddy Tyson Hugie. He saw this as an opportunity to reach out to Matt directly and request to use the old girl for a few days in Arizona. Matt obliged, and I got a special invitation to join Tyson and a few other friends to drive to the Chiricahua National Monument where they’d be testing out the Lexus. It’s about 250 miles or 4.5hrs from Las Cruces…here we go!

2015-10-28 13_15_12-Las Cruces, NM to Chiricahua Mountains, Cochise County, AZ - Google Maps

Departure time was 9am on Saturday, and I brought my friend James Zamora along for the ride. We were to meet in Wilcox, AZ with Tyson, James Lee, Jack and Chandler for lunch. I got the 6 all cleaned up for the drive.

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This was our meeting point for lunch…”The Dining Car.” Half of the restaurant is actually a train car!

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My meal of choice was a massive bacon cheese burger with fries. Hit the spot nicely.

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After lunch, it was time to chat over the cars. We had four in total:

  • “MillionMileLexus” 1996 Lexus LS400 – 4-speed auto (921,000 miles)
  • 1994 Acura Legend Coupe LS – 6spd manual (538,000 miles)
  • 2004 Mazda 6 S V6 – 5spd manual (174,000 miles)
  • 2000 Toyota Tacoma SR5 – 5spd manual (230,000 miles)

That’s roughly 1,863,000 miles between all of us!

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I was able to get behind the wheel of the Lexus for the first leg of the trip to Chiricahua from Wilcox.

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Tyson continued in his Legend and James Lee took the keys to my 6. Jack and Chandler were in their Tacoma.

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Turning the key of the Lexus to awaken the well traveled, 4.0L (FAA approved) 260HP V8 emitted very little noise. It’s more of a refined hum. No ticking, knocking…not even a puff of smoke. That’s impressive. The idle was still as smooth as silk.

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It was a good 40 miles on Hwy 186 to Chiricahua National Monument. Looking past all the cosmetically worn interior bits, I found the A/C ice cold, every gadget worked, and the ride was comfortable…maybe too comfortable. The tired suspension didn’t take too kindly to dips and abrupt slope changes in some of the corners. Gusty winds didn’t help much either. This contributed to me tightening the grip on the steering wheel. But, what do you expect…it’s got 921,000 miles!

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As long as any corners didn’t sneak up on me, the driving experience was relaxed and effortless. The steering felt tight and I didn’t detect any wheel wobble or vibration whatsoever.

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James Lee followed in my 6.

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Arrived at the monument sign. James Lee and I both agreed that this Lexus could still work great as an interstate cruiser. An odd characteristic pointed out by James Lee is the driver’s seat gives and bounces in addition to the suspension. Therefore, you get the sensation of double suspension travel?

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Driving into the park and we were greeted with some impressive scenery. The Chiricahua National Monument consists of 18 square miles of vertical rock formations. These are believed to be the remains of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. The monument is far less-traveled than many of Arizona’s other natural wonders. Location partly to blame? Perhaps. It’s also just one of those National Monuments that goes unmentioned. We swapped cars again at this point.

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Following Tyson’s Legend.

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Here we parked at the “Massai Point,” being the final roundabout of the park.22488854542_5dd0438c3d_o

The afternoon was full of grand scenery, hiking and photo opportunities. Here we are hiking to the “Grotto” on the Echo Canyon Trail. The grotto was probably my favorite point where you get to climb through the rhyolite rocks.

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James Zamora taking in the scenery.

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Our other James doing the same.

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Jack employing the useful “selfie stick” for some group shots.

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From left to right: Chandler, Tyson, Jack, James Zamora, Jason, James Lee

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Entering the Grottoes!

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A rather poor photo of “Balanced Rock”

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As the sun started to set, it was time to direct our attention back to the cars for some photos.

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I got to drive the Legend coupe a bit and observed that Tyson is nearing 540,000 miles! Keep on rollin’!

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Now in better lighting conditions, I was able to easily see that the Lexus hadn’t made it this far without a few bruises along the way. Consider them badges of honor…

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Everything the driver touches is worn…shift knob, steering wheel, and elbow rests. However, the interior is not half bad for the age.

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Jack and Chandler hiked a bit more on their own while the rest of us dug out the media equipment and drove the park for some photos and video.

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Photos by Tyson:

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Photo by James Lee:

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Tyson’s Legend coupe and the 6.

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A few shots with the Tacoma. (First image courtesy of James Lee)

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As darkness fell, it was time to head back to Wilcox for the night. The last worthy photo of the trip was a quick shot in front of an abandoned Chevrolet dealer before we all headed back to our respective cities. Tyson was to return the Lexus to Matt the following Monday. Thank you all for coming along for the ride. Join me in wishing the #millionmilelexus well, and that it reaches Matt’s goal of 1 million miles. Until next time…

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