Lexus ES350: history and description (also see ES300 and our review)
The ES marks the latest Lexus sedan to receive a complete redesign emphasizing a more sculptural styling. Widening the track by an inch made the stance more confident, while increasing the wheelbase by two inches provided more interior space. A long hood, pulled-back cabin and short rear deck are characteristic of the new L-finesse design theme. The interior includes wood, polished metal, and leather accents. Bright, clear gauges combined with smartly integrated metallic and authentic brown walnut wood trim help create a luxurious, elegant ambience, though the gauges could have used chrome trim rings to relieve the plastic look. Read our review!
The ES 350's 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers 272 horsepower and 254 lb.-ft. of torque, resulting in an estimated zero-to-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, substantially quicker than the model it replaces. The engine has reduced internal friction via chain-driven camshafts and roller-rocker arms. Aluminum heads and cylinder blocks feature special cast-in "spiny" cylinder liners to improve liner stability and cooling by increasing surface contact area with the cylinder head.
The front-wheel drive ES 350 features a six-speed automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) and sequential shift. The low-friction, high-efficiency gear train is lighter and more compact than the previous generation 5-speed transmission with 20 percent fewer parts and 24 percent fewer hydraulic controls. Gear ratios are carefully matched to both engine horsepower and torque characteristics to provide very smooth yet responsive shifts for improved drivability.
The new ES comes with dual exhaust, which reduces exhaust backpressure at high rpm. Gas mileage is estimated at around 25 mpg (21 mpg city/30 mpg highway) with Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle II (ULEV II) certification.
The ES has standard features such as SmartAccess keyless entry and a new push-to-start ignition system that allows drivers to enter and start the vehicle without removing the access fob from their pocket or purse; dual-zone automatic climate control; 10-way power front seats, with available memory; and standard cloth seats that are also available in leather and extra-soft perforated leather. The steering wheel has controls for the audio system, trip computer and multi-information display in the speedometer, and a voice control switch for the Bluetooth features where applicable. An auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated digital compass is standard, as are heated exterior mirrors.
Additional standard luxury features include a sliding center console, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a one-touch power moonroof and an illuminated entry system that lights the exterior with puddle lamps and the interior cabin footwells.
New standard safety features include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC), an electronic traction-control system that uses both throttle and brake intervention to help control wheel spin. The ES provides eight standard airbags; 10 with the optional rear-seat side airbags. For 2007, the ES gains new knee airbags for the driver and front passenger as well as a twin-chamber front passenger airbag. Side-curtain airbags coupled with front seat–mounted airbags and the optional rear-seat side airbags are designed to help offer additional crash energy management for the front and rear seat occupants. The system also includes variable-force front airbags for both driver and front passenger. Sensors determine the severity of the accident and, in turn, the force with which to deploy the front airbags, helping to provide an appropriate level of occupant restraint. Rear-seat side airbags are offered optionally.
The front side windows feature a water-repellant surface that helps to bead rainwater. A rear back-up camera, part of the navigation package, is mounted near the top of the license plate surround and projects a color image of what the camera lens can detect behind the vehicle onto the navigation screen whenever the vehicle is in reverse. In addition, the ES provides the first-ever intelligent Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) that allows both right and left front headlamp bulbs to swivel at the same time to help illuminate a turn or curve as the driver steers into it.
Lexus sells an optional panorama glass roof on the ES 350 creating an expansive feeling of openness for interior passengers. The glass roof extends over the entire passenger cabin providing a fixed skylight for rear passengers and a sliding sunroof for front passengers. A manual interior shade is provided for the front and rear passenger compartments. The frameless design allows for tighter gaps and, with no visible gaskets, contributes to its sleek appearance and efficient aerodynamics.
Optional ventilated front seats and an available power rear window sunshade work in concert with the standard dual-zone climate control that filters the air to keep occupants comfortable. A dual-zone automatic climate control allows driver and front passenger to customize interior temperatures, while rear passengers enjoy their own A/C vents.
The optional and newly upgraded fifth-generation navigation system offers eight million points of interest (POI). The multi-information display makes key information readily available and easy to see. These and other features available on the new ES, such as semi-aniline leather, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, intelligent Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS), Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, heated/ventilated front seats and the panorama glass roof are normally found only in more expensive luxury cars.
The standard audio system brings an in-dash, six-disc CD-changer, MP3 player, iPod connectivity, and an additional speaker. The system also includes an Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL) to maintain consistent sound levels at varying vehicle speeds. The optional Mark Levinson audio system has a 7.1-channel speaker architecture, with 10 channels of amplification to bring a total of 300 watts at 0.1 percent Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) playing through 14 speakers. The Mark Levinson audio also lets users play both conventional CDs and DVDs. DVD movies can be viewed on the color 7-inch touch screen when the vehicle is parked.
2017 update: With nearly 51,400 sales, the Lexus ES was the best selling car in its class.
The 2019 Lexus ES is a ground-up redesign, based on the Toyota Avalon (which shares a platform with the Corolla and Camry, among others). Styling resembles that of the Lexus LS, but the new ES is still a front-wheel-drive V6 car. The ES is priced against the Mercedes E series and BMW 5 series, with an ES F Sport to go up against the BMW M5 and such.