First Drive: 2015 Lexus ES350
These day’s, Lexus has been pushing the boundaries of design making a unflinching statement for the new upcoming generation of Lexusbots. With the introduction of the new NX and RC Series, their target has been more towards the youngsters of society, getting their loyal customer base in now before they deflect to the Germans. However, with the ES Series, it’s safe to say that there is still a lingering traditional Lexus here to cater to those who prefer their coffee from a pot and stock news from a paper.
There are two ways you can have a Lexus ES, the fuel sipping hybrid ES300h, or the not so fuel sipping ES350. Since we prefer our cars drinking fuel like we drink martinis on Tini-Tuesdays, we went for the ES350 with the 3.5-liter V6.
Redesigned in 2013, the ES was one of the first, next to the RX350 to receive Lexus’ new bold flavored design scheme which offered the spindle grille and LED switchback daytimes. Dressed in Atomic Silver paint, our sampled ES350 had charm – it looked classy, and simplified featuring 18-inch Liquid Graphite wheels ($880) and elegant LED tail lights. It was a sedan that subtly made an audacious statement at every turn without having to shout it out to the world.
The ES is based solely off the Toyota Avalon, which we like. You’ll find the same power plant, a 3.5-liter V6 that omits 268-horsepower through a tasteful, smooth shifting six-speed automatic. And like the Avalon, the ES350 will whisk you easily into highway speeds in about 6 seconds. It’s a sedan you never feel the urge to go gun-hoe, but if you do, it’s has swift acceleration, the gear changes are crisp, and the quiet cabin will tone down any dreadful road noise.
Like most cars, the best way to describe the handling and suspension setup is by its smoothness. The ES is something a bit different. It’s so utterly disconnected from the surface that you don’t feel like you’re driving. It feels like a floating machine that happens to turn in the direction the steering wheel goes. There is a knob in the center to change into Sport that can firm up the steering and adjusts the rev’s, but really, that’s too complicated for its kind of consumer – let’s remember that most people don’t even know what the Plus & Minus symbols mean on the lever thingy.
So, with the creaminess of the steering and ultra-soft suspension – it’s easy to drive and easy to live with. And when it comes down to fuel consumption, it’s not half bad either with EPA ratings targeting 21/31/24 (city/highway/combined.) Fueling with regular ole gas we managed 340 miles to a tank and 25 mpg combined – over the EPA targeted rating.
Inside, it’s just what you would expect from any luxury brand. The ES350 is full of your usual wood and leather – soft mushy comfy seats – and high quality fit and finished materials throughout. It’s a big sedan which means there is room for everyone, tons of leg and head room in the back, and with power adjustable front seats – finding your comfort level is easy. Our tester had an extra bump in comfort featuring Ventilated and Heated front seats for a mere $640 extra – which is nice since it has been a bit toast in the desert lately.
For targeting an older crowd, we quite liked the design of the cabin space. We liked the swooping lines in the dash, the faux white stitching and the oddly placement of the cup holders. Everything is well laid out and has its place. This particular car featured the Hard Drive Navigation with App Suite ($1795) which uses Lexus’ infamous joystick that is very user friendly and quick to use on the go. And for an extra $730 you too could have the Premium Package which includes memory driver seat, power adjustable steering wheel, and beautifully trimmed Espresso Wood.
Sitting at an as tested price of $42,850, there were a couple of things we found disappointing with our tester. Things like missing HID headlamps – regular old halogens here – on a premium sedan like this, halogens just look cheap. And we didn’t have Blind Spot Monitoring – which for its target consumer, is a very nice feature to have. Both these features are available options; however, here they were options that hadn’t been selected.
The ES350 is everything you’d expect it to be, especially since its carrying the Lexus badging. It’s a comfortable, well suited car for the type of buyer that isn’t concerned about driving but simply interested in getting to their destination in style and comfort.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2015 Lexus ES350:||$37,550|
|Wood & Leather Shift Knob & Steering Wheel:||$330|
|Heated and Ventillated Front Seats:||$640|
|18-inch Wheels with Liquid Graphite Finish:||$880|
|Hard Disk Drive Navigation:||$1,795|