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What is always so appealing about many luxury vehicles is the ease in which they drive. The driving is so effortless at times it feels like the vehicle is the one making all the decision and you’re just along for the ride.

And that observation certainly applies to the Lexus ES 350, which was given a solid test here for a week. Even though it’s considered an entry level sedan in the Lexus fleet, the 2012 ES 350 is nothing to take for granted.

It makes a nice first impression on looks alone and provides a similar feeling once behind the wheel. Overall it’s a pretty sweet car for just under $37,000.

Now in its fifth generation, there are no dramatic changes in this year’s ES 350, which is essentially a luxury version of the popular Toyota Camry. The vehicle looks the same from an exterior standpoint since coming out with a new front grille, front bumper, and revised headlamps in 2010.

2012 Lexus ES 350

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V-6, 268 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 19-28 mpg
  • Price: $36,725
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance 4 years/unlimited mileage

Some car shoppers may consider the ES 350 as rather unexciting, claiming it’s less interesting than many of its entry-level luxury rivals. While not agreeing with the assessment, there’s no doubting the competition is fierce. The field is crowded and includes the Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G, Lincoln MKZ, Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai Genesis, Acura TL, Volvo S60, and a few other notables.

What should please potential buyers the most regarding the ES 350 is the ease of handling. The ride is extremely quiet and very smooth, two enviable qualities for any vehicle. Wind and engine noise are nonexistent whether at low speed or barreling down the freeway at 75 mph.

And speaking of speeding along on a freeway, the ES 350 can do that fairly easily and go much faster if one wants to really punch the accelerator. This sedan features a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 268 horsepower and is capable of going 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds. Of course, driving the ES 350 hard isn’t doing much for the gas mileage, which is estimated at 19-28 under normal conditions.

A luxury vehicle also needs to offer something extra on the interior and the ES 350 passes that test as well. It has a very easy makeup, which means no real guesswork to operate the stereo system, temperature gauges, and other functions. The leather and soft materials make for a very appealing interior.

There is plenty of headroom for front-seat occupants in the ES 350, but headroom may bother taller folks. Three people can fit in the backseat with comfort, while the trunk space is roomy and has a convenient pass-through for items like skis.

The entry-level, luxury midsize sedan field is filled with attractive vehicles to peruse. And the Lexus ES 350 definitely makes the short list of which vehicle to buy.

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