The Lexus ES350 offers buyers a healthy dose of good old-fashioned luxury, and I mean that in a positive sense. Although it is priced in a lower range of Lexus sedans, it is well equipped, and elegant in its appointments. Furthermore, the ES350 delivers a serene ride.
There is nothing flashy about the ES. The body is free of unnecessary character lines, and even the broad spindle-shaped grille is not all that obtrusive. The interior is understated, but elegant. NuLuxe leatherette with contrasting stitching covers the dash and doors. Supple leather seats and an available leather- and wood-trimmed steering wheel please the senses.
The layout of the dash is stylish with a jewel-like analog clock right in the center. Below it lies a compact center control panel that is well-marked, but small buttons take a while to get used to. However, a large recessed display up near the windshield is easy to view. Remote Touch, a mouse-like device on the console, operates the navigation, phone and other features. Unfortunately, you have to take your eyes off the road to operate it.
Luxury features abound. Push-button entry/start, 10-way power seats up front, premium audio with eight speakers, Bluetooth and dynamic cruise control are standard. Features, like climate-controlled seats, sunshades and wood trim are available in option packages.
Moreover, the ES is equipped with advanced safety technology. Forward-collision warning and braking, active lane control and intelligent high-beam headlights are included in base price of the car. Blind-spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert are optional, but, hopefully, will be standard next year.
The ES seats five in solid comfort. Folks up front have 10-way power seat adjusters to insure a pleasurable ride, and those in the rear fare just as well. Their bench seat provides sufficient elbowroom for three adults, and there is plenty of space for tall people to stretch their legs. Furthermore, the trunk is large enough (15.2 cu.-ft.) to hold a family’s vacation baggage.
Under the hood, the ES350 sports a 3.5-liter V-6, with 268 horsepower, teamed up with a six-speed automatic transmission. This power train is very refined. The engine is smooth and quiet—the gearbox is equally smooth, and responsive to downshifts. Acceleration is respectable. To change things up a bit, drivers can select a Sport mode, which quickens throttle response, adjusts the shift pattern and tightens up the steering a notch, or conversely, choose the Eco setting to relax responses for better gas mileage.
You won’t mistake the ES for a BMW on a twisty road, but it does a credible job in the handling department. This car feels sure-footed on both smooth and rough surfaces. However, buyers are likely to be more impressed with how comfortable it is. The ES coddles passengers with an ultra-smooth ride, and a quiet cabin. You’ll want to take it on long trips.
The Lexus ES350 starting price is $39,895. My test car, which was fully loaded with options, such as navigation, Mark Levinson audio and a panoramic glass roof, had a suggested retail price of $50,177.
Loads of Features