The Lexus ES sedan becomes the ES330 for 2004 with the introduction of a larger and more powerful V6 engine. In addition, the ES330 features larger side impact airbags (SRS), an improved optional satellite navigation system and new luxury details. The 3.3-liter V6 engine, which replaces the previous 3.0-liter V6, produces 225 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of peak torque, compared to 210 hp and 220 lb.-ft. in the ES 300. The larger-displacement engine endows the ES330 with better performance, with the increased torque in particular providing the kind of response the customer can feel and appreciate in everyday driving situations.
The Lexus ES330 is nearly a second quicker than its predecessor from 0-60 mph, at 7.2 seconds. Continuously Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and a three-stage variable intake manifold (also featured on the previous version) give the ES330 V6 engine a wide torque curve for quick response at virtually any speed. With the 3.3-liter V6, the ES330 achieves the ULEV II (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) certification.
"In its third year on the market, the new-generation ES sedan shows the benefits of Lexus' thoughtful attention to detail and passionate pursuit of perfection," said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Denny Clements. "The more powerful engine and other refinements for 2004 help to further hone our two-model strategy in the near-luxury segment, in which we also offer the rear-wheel drive IS 300 for more sport-oriented drivers."
Lexus has also revised the standard five-speed automatic transmission for the 2004 ES330, matching it to the performance of the larger engine. Wider gear ratios take advantage of the increased torque while enabling the ES330 to achieve virtually the same EPA-estimated fuel efficiency ratings as the previous model (20 MPG city/29 MPG highway vs. 21/29 for the 2003 ES 300).
New grade logic enables the five-speed transmission to provide improved performance in hills, delaying upshifts to sustain power on inclines and holding a lower gear for increased engine braking on descents. Shifting smoothness has been improved in all conditions.
Enhanced Safety for 2004 Lexus has augmented the impressive safety technology array in the ES330 for 2004. A new larger side airbag provides a greater protection area that includes the torso. A new front passenger occupant classification system is designed to help determine whether a child or an adult occupies the front passenger seat. If the system determines a child is in the front passenger seat, an indicator light will display "Airbag Off" and the front passenger airbag, front passenger side airbag, and seatbelt pretensioner will be deactivated. If the system determines an adult is in the front passenger seat, an indicator light will display "Airbag On" and the front passenger airbag will deploy at either "High" or "Low" speed depending on the severity of the impact, seat track position, and seatbelt buckle switch position. Additionally, the front passenger side airbag and seatbelt pretensioner will activate.
The ES330 safety starts with a reinforced passenger cell protected by front and rear crush structures. The Supplemental Restraint System includes side curtain airbags in addition to the dual front airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags. The side curtain airbags extend from the A-pillar to C-pillar to help provide protection for the head and upper body in certain types of side impacts. Multi-stage front airbags are designed to deploy at one of two speeds, according to impact force. The driver's front airbag also includes an extra low stage designed to deploy based, in part, on how far forward the seat is on the seat track. Additionally, whiplash injury-lessening (WIL) front seats are standard.
Standard active safety technology in the 2004 ES330 includes daytime running lights, anti-lock brakes (ABS), and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which helps proportion braking power to the wheels that need it most. The optional Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system integrates ABS, EBD, electronic traction control (TRAC) and the advanced Brake Assist feature.
VSC helps control loss of lateral traction while cornering on slippery or dry road surfaces by using throttle intervention and/or applying individual wheel braking to help control any discrepancy between where the driver is steering and where the vehicle is heading. Brake Assist can determine whether the driver is attempting emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal to engage the ABS, the system applies maximum braking power until the brake pedal is released.
Enhanced Navigation System The optional Lexus Navigation System for the ES330 has been improved for 2004. As before, the system uses a DVD for map storage, containing the contiguous United States, plus major cities in Canada, on one disc. This system includes multi-language selection and very fast route calculation (about five seconds). The revised system features better, easier-to-understand graphics, a larger point of interest (POI) database and new convenience functions.
New map modes show freeway exit information, an intersection guide, upcoming exits (a benefit if the driver passes an intended exit), points of interest at the exits and a compass.
The DVD map database now contains more than five million points of interest (POI), compared to two million before. The database for Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York features new "building footprint" graphics, which shows a 3D rendering of the building in its location. This feature can be useful for identifying buildings and their surroundings. As before, system functions include multi-route calculation, route preview, simplified highway junction graphics, and a dual-map screen mode. The navigation system comes with a center-console mounted six-disc CD auto-changer as well as a single-disc player in the dash.
Flagship-Style Luxury The ES330 exemplifies Lexus' reputation for quiet ride quality. A nearly flat underbody and other exterior refinements contribute to the low 0.28 coefficient of drag and help reduce wind noise to ultra-low levels. Lexus uses extensive sound absorption material in the ES330, which reduces noise in the cabin by absorbing it, not merely blocking it. An active engine mount helps cancel out vibration of every power stroke. Special engine mounts further reduce vibration at idle, and a two-stage muffler reduces exhaust booming at low speeds.
The optional power-adjustable accelerator and brake pedals that were introduced for 2003 now include a memory feature. The pedals give drivers greater adjustability for comfort.
Lexus infused the ES330 with luxury features similar to the LS 430 flagship sedan, such as dual-zone automatic climate control with an air filtration system. The standard premium audio system in both models features a five-channel amplifier and seven speakers. The ES330 includes both a CD player and a cassette player. Automatic Sound Level (ASL) adjusts volume up or down in response to ambient noise. Like most Lexus models, the ES330 offers an optional high-end Mark Levinson audio system in combination with a six-disc in-dash, single-feed CD changer, or in a package with a DVD-based navigation system.
Lexus has enhanced seating comfort in the 2004 ES330 with a new luxury feature. The passenger seat now includes a new design for the front headrest hinge that allows the lower portion of the headrest to swivel toward the occupant. This provides a larger support area and a more comfortable fit. Additional standard luxury features include leather seating, a one-touch power moonroof with sunshade, multi-information display with trip computer, Homelink compatible garage door opener, electrochromic auto-dimming inside and outside rearview mirrors and a compass integrated into the rearview mirror.
The power windows on all four doors feature one-touch up/down control with jam protection. Two ideas borrowed from the LS 430 include water-repellent front door glass and four door courtesy lamps that illuminate the ground and doorsill areas.
The luxury ambience is enhanced by standard footwell lighting, a center console LED interior light, and sun visor vanity mirror lamps that turn off automatically when the visor is closed. Genuine California walnut trim highlights the dashboard, center console and doors, which also feature chrome handles. One option that brings the ES330 even closer to the LS 430 is a power rear sunshade that lowers automatically when the transmission is shifted into reverse. Additional luxury options include two-level heated seats, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with dynamic auto leveling, rain-sensing windshield wipers and an in-dash, single-feed, six-disc CD auto-changer with the available navigation system.
Lexus designed the ES330 as a ride quality benchmark in its segment. The four-wheel independent suspension is mounted to anti-vibration subframes with greater rigidity for tighter handling. The optional Adaptive Variable Suspension system (AVS) is a feature generally seen in LS 430 competitors, not the entry-luxury segment. AVS enhances ride quality by continuously changing each wheel's shock absorber damping rate in response to road surface conditions, vehicle speed, steering and braking inputs, and even vertical vehicle movement. The driver can choose between four settings ranging from Comfort to Sport.
As with all Lexus vehicles, the ES330 comes with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48-months/unlimited miles. Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage.