The temperature guage reads in the normal range during operation, and reaches normal range quickly. When I say normal, the needle is 1/2-way on the guage. I don't recall the specific temp, but can easily check it. Of course, this all assumes the guage is correct.
I need to step in and clarify a few things here and also provide you with a better answer to your issue on this car.
First NONE of the ES' have a triptronic or manual shift option.
The issue you have here is actually going to most likely be inside the actual shifter. There is a little plastic white "fork" inside the shifter that rides the shaft of the shifter and this "fork" gets toggles back and forth when you shift the transmission between position "4" and "D", I have repalced probably about 100 of these shifter assemblies because what happens is the fork either breaks off or gets jammed so the sensor on that fork constantly tells the ECM that you are in gear position "4".
If replacing the assembly is not a cost you want to take on then you can have your mechanic push the fork base over to the right in the "d" position to regain Drive gear.