The dignified Lexus ES 350 provides a gateway to Toyota’s luxury brand. This large, front-wheel drive sedan seats five and is sold in one trim level with four package upgrades available.
Priced from $37,700, the 2015 Lexus ES 350 provides an attainable starting point for aspiring luxury brand shoppers. This five-passenger, front-wheel drive sedan comes well equipped with numerous package options available to satisfy customers.
The current generation Lexus ES 350 maintains its overall conservative look, but now benefits from a more aggressive face as it has adopted the brand’s spindle (hourglass) grille, which punctuates the fascia. It makes for a handsome appearance overall and with its arched lines to the rear, the ES 350 exudes sophistication.
A new option with this model is a “Crafted Line” version that features an ultra white exterior with Obsidian details.
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock. It provides attractive blacked-out accents across the grille, on the side mirrors, around the rear lighting, and on the face of the wheels.
Sumptuous interiors are a Lexus specialty and in this sphere the ES 350 does not disappoint. For 2015, Lexus made its NuLuxe upholstery standard, providing a look and feel that mimics leather, but isn’t. NuLuxe weighs about half as much as genuine leather and should please anyone who has an aversion to animal-based products. Nevertheless, a semi-aniline leather seating option remains.
The sedan’s cabin includes several touches exclusive to the class. Bamboo accents adorn the steering wheel, maple accents separate the upper and lower sections of the dashboard, and the contrast stitching along the dashboard enhances visual appeal. Additional highlights include piano black trim.
Both the driver and front passenger have access to 10-way power operated seats with lumbar support. The front seats are plush, supportive and can be upgraded to include heating and ventilation elements. To the rear is a pillow soft contoured bench seat offering excellent room for three. It also comes with a pass through to the trunk.
Numerous luxury features enhance the driver’s experience, including a power-operated tilt and telescopic steering column. Together with the adjustable seat, your ideal setting can be saved. Every model also comes with an illuminated entry system, power accessories, a tilt and slide moonroof, cruise control, an analog clock, front seat back pockets, rear coat hooks and an eight-speaker audio system.
As tested, the ES 350 offered nine options and upgrades, adding approximately $7,000 to its base price. The main upgrades were a $1,015 lane departure warning and automatic high beam package, a $1,370 luxury package featuring real leather and wood trim, and a $1,795 hard-disk drive navigation system with the Lexus Enform upgrade.
Other upgrades brought in 18-inch wheels with an enhanced graphic finish, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, a power rear sunshade, intuitive parking assist, rain sensing wipers with deicer, and a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel and knob.
Lexus offers only one powertrain choice in the ES 350. This sedan is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 268 horsepower. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that can be operated in manual mode.
The Lexus ES 350 provides satisfactory performance off the line with average power on the highway. Torque steer, the bane of front-wheel drive models — especially in larger sedans — is minimal. You won’t find much steering excitation with this sedan, although the ES 350 stays planted as you navigate twisty roads. The transmission shifts smoothly and quickly through all six forward gears.
Lexus Enform is the available infotainment system that connects navigation, audio and climate control. It can be operated by touch screen, voice control or with buttons.
The app suite is colorful, easily recognizable with apps for Bing Internet search, iHeartRadio, movies and restaurant reservations, sport scores, stock information and more. Apps can be downloaded to your compatible smartphone to augment its usefulness.
The voice supplied navigation directions are clear and sensible. Not all voice commands were understood, requiring occasional repeating until the correct address was spoken. The 8-inch color display is easy to decipher.
In crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2015 ES 350 received “good” scores in four categories: moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints & seats. Good is the highest score offered by the IIHS.
Enhancing this model’s front crash prevention capabilities is an available $1,500 pre-collision system with dynamic radar control. It is designed to maintain a constant distance between the ES 350 and the car immediately in front of it, automatically slowing or braking the sedan in certain traffic conditions.
Standard safety equipment with the Lexus ES 350 includes: daytime running lights; front, front side and side curtain air bags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control; brake assist; and electronic brake-force distribution. This model comes with ventilated disc brakes up front and solid disc brakes to the rear.
With a starting price of under $40,000, the Lexus ES 350 provides a generously sized luxury sedan for the money. Heated and ventilated seats are extra and can be had in one of two luxury packages. Navigation and an upgraded audio system are extra cost items too. Therefore, a fully optioned ES 350 should cost at least $45,000.
Shoppers considering Lexus for the first time might also cross shop the Lexus IS 350, a rear-wheel drive sedan with optional all-wheel drive. The ES 300h hybrid variant that gets 40 mpg is also available. A CT hybrid and an NX utility vehicle might also be considered. In all, Lexus offers a level of quality and reliability that has consumers coming back for more.