First Drive: 2010 Lexus ES350

Don Sherman
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Building five generations of ES luxury sedans has taught Lexus how to do that job to perfection. Nonetheless, 2010 brings more gilding for a magnificently poised if not especially entertaining to drive lily. There are modest design changes inside and out plus a new telematics system shared with other Lexus models.

Slightly Edited Exterior

A close order inspection reveals a slightly sharper character at the front of the ES achieved with by means of bright sides for the trapezoidal grille assembly and subtle reshaping of the bumper fascia. The fog lamps and lower air opening are both more prominent and turn signals have been added to the mirrors. Handy rub strips attached to the bottom of the doors are accented by bright trim. The hidden wipers now go to work when the first droplets of rain are sensed and there are two new 17-inch wheel designs. Taillamps have been revised to show more curvature.

Still Sweet Interior

The major change inside is a couple new coat hooks for the rear compartment. The feel of the steering wheel switches has changed for the better and metal accents have been added. Also, there's a new strip of metal and wood running across the top of the glove box door.

One tragic loss is the audio system's cassette deck. To make amends, the ES 350's wood trim is darker and buttons have a more contemporary design. Metal accents have been added around the vents, door trim, shift knob collar, and primary gauges. The distinctive tombstone-shaped center stack continues. The leather upholstery-now standard--is stitched together with thread in a contrasting color. ES 350s blessed with the Ultra Luxury Package get two contrasting colors. The console bin is half-a-liter larger inside and is accessed by means of a more convenient release. Two new wood trim choices have been added and last year's cashmere leather has been replaced by parchment-colored hides.

New standard features include a power driver's seat with memory settings and rear seat airbags that raise the count of inflatable restraints to ten. An ECO monitor and extra cruise control indicators have been added to the instrument cluster.

One carryover ES feature that warrants special recognition is a backseat configured to carry three adults in reasonable comfort.

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