Lexus ES 350 is a classic weekend cruiser
Elegance. For me, this is the first word that comes to mind when describing a Lexus vehicle. Luxurious and quiet, pampering and suave, the 2011 Lexus ES 350 goes down as smooth as a glass of Bowmore Islay single malt scotch while seated next to a crackling fire on a rainy, Spring day. The warm glow enjoyed both inside and out makes the vaulted price of admission worth the investment.
Heading north, we leave Peterborough on Highway 28 taking an arrow straight path into the heart of cottage country. Our destination is the Kawarthas region of Ontario. It has been a harsh winter on pavement, but the ES 350 never winces in response to my commands.
Fighting the impulse to slow down, I push hard on the accelerator, downshifting as we fight the forces of gravity. No, the ES 350 is not a sports sedan equal to the BMW 3-Series or Cadillac CTS, but it can certainly hold its own when the road ahead gets a little twisty. A taut underbody and solid brakes add to the sense of control. The ES 350 offers proof positive that sophistication and having a good time are not mutually exclusive.
Power comes in the form of a 3.5-litre DOHC 24-valve 6-cylinder engine. Performance is rated as 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed Super ECT automatic transmission, power delivery is discreet in both sound and thrust. Zero to 100 km/h takes just over 7 seconds.
Rich seating surfaces provide ample space for up to five adults. Front seat occupants are swathed in black leather refinement with dual 10-way power seats, heated front seats and dark wood grain accents on the dash, center console and door panels. Outside, Truffle Mica metallic paint covers curved haunches at all four corners plus the rakish roofline sweeping overhead from front to back.
Fit and finish quality is superb. Easy-to-read Optitron electronic analog gauges display only once the vehicle is turned on, lending an aura of sophistication to the driving experience. Lexus premium audio sound with XM Satellite Radio blasts a timely rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” as we parallel a lake cresting hills and descending into low valleys at full song.
Thirty minutes north of Peterborough, the Viamede Resort stands tall on the shores of Stoney Lake. Situated on 165 acres of prime northern Ontario real estate, the 125 year property offers hiking and biking trails, canoeing or kayaking the islands of Stoney Lake plus watersports of every kind. Petroglyphs Provincial Park and the historic Trent-Severn Waterway are but a stone’s throw away.
A total of 19 cottage and 33 attractive rooms define the two-storey white and grey building. A grand deck runs the full length on both floors, giving the resort of a large cottage retreat. Viamede Resort is not your typical over-the-top getaway experience. Rather, it provides the feeling of intimacy on a grand scale. The prospect of doing everything is within easy reach, but after a long drive in from the city, we opt to do nothing at all from the friendly confines of an Adirondack chair on the deck.
Dining takes place in three unique settings on the property. The Empress Room is the place for buffet breakfast’s and Spring tastings in preparation for the summer menu. It offers a prime view of the lake in a cozy setting, serving the dual role as a perfect location for weddings and family get-togethers. The Boathouse Pub offers casual fare Thursday to Sunday, highlighting local beers, their famous chicken wings and grilled sandwiches. Opening this month, the Inn at Mount Julian, a 137 year old lodge, is rejuvenated to new heights as a premier stop on the Kawarthas dining trail.
The Spa at Mount Julian is set to reopen this summer, with expectations running high. A small library on the resort is a quiet place to relax, but opting for the pool table seems a better option on this day. Relaxation takes many forms, one of my favourites being the chance to play eight ball and snooker with an unsuspecting fellow vacationer.
The 2011 Lexus ES 350 is the perfect automobile for exploring Canada’s vast cottage country in style. Chic in every sense of the word, relaxation starts the moment you take up residence behind the steering wheel. Arriving at a destination in style is certainly entertaining, but getting there with class makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
2011 Lexus ES 350
Trim level: Premium Package with Navigation
Configuration: front engine/ front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.5-litre/6-speed auto
Power/torque: 268 hp/248 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Unleaded (45L)
Fuel economy ratings: 10.9 L/100km city; 7.2 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 8.3 L/100km over 900 km
Warranties: 4 years/ 80,000 km
Competitors: Acura TL, Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Infiniti G Sedan, Volvo S60, Volkswagen CC