Highlight: The seventh-generation ES 350 rides on the same platform as the Toyota Avalon.
Vehicle’s MSRP: $53,742 (Base model: $40,775)
Seating Capacity: Five
Standard Safety Features: ABS; airbags; a tire pressure monitoring system; traction control system; a pre collision safety system; a post collision safety system; a lane departure warning avoidance system; an emergency braking system; a radar-activated cruise control system; and a rearview camera
Standard Equipment (Base): an 8-speed automatic transmission; a leather steering wheel; pseudo leather seats; a keyless ignition system; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a hands free entry system; heated mirrors; a wireless charging system; cargo net; a heads up display system; a carpet mat; and power rear sunshade
Standard Equipment (Ultra Luxury): 14-way driver seat and 10-way passenger seat; Lexus memory settings for seats, mirrors and steering wheel; ventilated front seats; hands free power open/close trunk; power rear sunshade with a manual sunshade; and performance dampers; 17 speakers Mark Levinson Premium brand audio system; reverse tilt passenger mirror only provides curb view when vehicle in reverse; a heated wood and leather trimmed steering wheel; and ventilated front seats
Optional Features On Test Vehicle: blind spot monitor with a rear cross traffic alert system, a park assist system with auto braking; a wireless charger system; 18-inch alloy wheels; a heads up display system; triple beam LED headlights; a navigation system; a 12-inch infotainment system; rearview camera; a 17-speaker, 1800-watt Mark Levinson speakers; a panoramic sunroof; heated wood and leather steering wheel; a windshield wiper de-icer; illuminated door sill; all-weather floor liners with trunk tray; and a key glove
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: Pioneer speakers AM/FM/CD/HD with SiriusXM
Android/Apple Compatible: Apple Compatible Only!
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/302-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 22-city/33-hwy
What’s New: The all-new styling mimics that of the brand’s curvaceous looking flagship, the LS 500.
Why: This year’s more stylish ES 350 is available in both a hybrid and a non hybrid configuration. The more fuel-efficient, 6-cylinder gasoline engine is now driven by an all-new, smooth shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. This is also one of the few luxury midsize vehicles available as a hybrid, too.
With consumers thirst for crossovers, SUVs and trucks, the ES is expected to take on dual roles in the near to distant future. Rumor has it that the midsize GS, which is currently long in the tooth, will fade away into car heaven. The once conservatively styled ES 350, which has been around since the launch of the Lexus brand, new design is expected to fill that niche. Lexus has even added an ES 350 F Sport, with a performance package, to fill the niche. The ES 350 F-Sport adds 19-inch wheels, a beefier suspension, a blacked-out grille and a rear spoiler.
Based on the reaction we have received from those we encountered with the all-new ES 350 we reviewed, the eye-catching design coupled with the peanut butter interior, has garnered a new fan base, both young and old. It didn’t hurt that the optional Red exterior color and the blacked-out panoramic roof created a two-tone effect that really makes this vehicle a standout.
While we’ve been quite critical of Lexus’ wide-mouth, in-your-face signature grille, it seemed to work on this vehicle, giving the vehicle a more sporty appeal. The ES design team has also reworked the instrument panel, giving the vehicle a fresh, modern design, with its re-positioned driver-centered, 12-inch infotainment screen. The premium level interior also revealed a level of detail in the ES that we would only expect from the much higher priced LS, especially with the encased optional high quality speakers.
The road worthy ES 350 continues to offer a roomy interior, with supportive seats, while providing the latest safety driving aids.
But: With the redesign ES 350 the vehicle, Lexus has removed the radio knobs, making it more complicated to change stations. And for those seeking android compatibility, its not available, as of yet. Go figure!
Also the upscale ES 350 isn’t available with rear heated seats. A car of this class should have this feature as standard equipment. We also must point out that the rear seat doesn’t fold down. So, for those who need to place mops or yard tools in the vehicle, one might have to borrow a vehicle that can accommodate such.
Verdict: While the once sporty GS sedan is expected to be discontinued soon, the all-new ES 350 steps into the role of serving two models. Lexus has done an excellent job, broadening the appeal of the oldest vehicle in its portfolio.
Competition: Audi A5; Buick LaCrosse; Genesis G80; Infiniti G50; Lincoln MKZ; and Toyota Avalon
About The Writer: Jeff Fortson is the editor of JeffCars.com and the host of SiriusXM’s only multicultural automotive radio show, Auto Trends with JeffCars.com. The radio show includes weekly conversations with today’s pioneers and influencers.