The ES350 embodies everything that most people expect from Lexus, so it’s no wonder that the ES350 is the brand’s best-selling sedan. The front-wheel-drive, V-6 ES350 is built off the same platform as the Toyota Camry, but that’s hardly a bad thing. The two cars’ characters are similar, although the Lexus has its own totally unique design inside and out. Both cars are engineered for a smooth, quiet ride; both feature a creamy, polished powertrain; and both have an enviable reputation for quality. Neither is a sport sedan. Rather than driver involvement, the ES350 delivers splendid isolation. The lone engine is a 268-hp V-6 that is down on power compared with some competitors (the Acura TL and the Buick LaCrosse, to name two). Still, this quiet runner can hustle the ES350 from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, which is plenty fast enough. Working with a highly refined six-speed automatic, it returns 19/27 mpg on regular fuel. All the popular luxury items are standard, including leather, a sunroof, ten-way dual power seats, a power adjustable steering column, Bluetooth, keyless ignition, and a premium audio system with satellite radio, USB, and iPod inputs. As always, there are additional temptations. Some highlights: semi-aniline leather, an oversize panoramic glass roof, navigation, a backup camera, heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, and a Mark Levinson audio system. Load it up with options, and the ES350 diverges still further from its Toyota-badged sibling.
Trim levels: ES350, Touring Edition
Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger
Engine: 3.5L V-6, 268 hp, 248 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 95.4 cu ft
Cargo space: 14.7 cu ft
It’s not too surprising that there is no big news here for 2012. Since the ES350 is based on the Camry, and the Camry is new this year, a new ES350 is undoubtedly in the offing. So the current version sees little change for 2012, other than a new trim level: the Touring Edition. Available with a tan leather interior, the Touring Edition comes with features such as nav, 17-inch wheels, and heated and ventilated front seats. Production is limited to 2000 (attention, collectors!).
Front, knee, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and stability and traction control are standard. Precollision warning is included with optional active cruise control; a backup camera comes with the available nav system; adaptive front lighting is a stand-alone option. Lexus’s Safety Connect telematics system includes collision response and a one-year subscription.
All: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway
- Smooth ride
- Plenty of luxury options
- Zero driver involvement
- Anonymous styling
- Soon to be replaced
A soft, comfy cruiser that’s based on the Toyota Camry.
- Acura TL
- Buick LaCrosse
- Lincoln MKS
- Volvo S60