Roseville, Calif. – This classy sedan has been a best-seller for many years. There are many fine qualities regarding the Lexus ES 350, including great curb appeal, terrific road manners, super quiet, good performance, and excellent comfort. Did we leave anything out? Nothing major; that’s for sure.
Once the leading seller in the Lexus lineup, that distinction now belongs to the RC model, which was rated first several months ago among America’s best-selling premium brand vehicles. The ES 350 held down the eighth slot.
For knowledgeable ES folks, an exterior change arrived several years when the design team gave the ES some sharp features. The styling was borrowed from Lexus’ signature hourglass-shaped grille, which Toyota’s luxury division public relations department describes as a “spindle.”
Other than a few tweaks, the 2016 ES is virtually unchanged from last year’s model. It remains paired with the ES 300h, a gas-electric hybrid that was introduced several years ago. (Note that both the ES 350 and the ES 300h hybrid come in one trim model only. You either like them or you don’t.)
The ES 350 engine makeup is a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. It’s plenty quick, going 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which matches most of its competitors. Gas mileage ranges between 21-31 mpg.
2016 Lexus ES 350
- Performance: 3.5-liter, V-6, 268 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 21-31 mpg
- Estimated Price: $38,100
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance 4 years/unlimited; corrosion 6 years/unlimited
The hybrid ES 300h is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that pairs with an electric motor for a combined 200 horsepower. The 300h is connected to a CVT transmission that some testers felt responded like an automatic.
Although it has three alternatives, during a week of test driving the ES 350 I had it exclusively in Eco mode and the ES 350 felt so good that I literally forgot to try the other two drive mode options – Sport and Normal.
Previously a luxury version of the Toyota Camry, the ES 350 now utilizes the Toyota Avalon’s longer platform.
The ES 350 interior used to be a simplified cockpit. The redesign provided more sophistication, and not surprisingly a more difficult learning curve with the controls. It features the Remote Touch electronic interface, which some feel is too much of a distraction while driving.
The ES interior features leather and soft materials that make for a very appealing combination. The trunk has 15.2 cubic feet of space, which is average for this class.
Driving the ES has never been considered sporty like the BMW 5 series, and that hasn’t changed despite the redesign. But the new suspension and some steering changes have improved the way the ES handles overall. The braking remains good and even at high speeds the ES provides a quiet ride.
The ES 350 now possesses the modernization that was somewhat lacking in the past. The improvements keep the ES right where it has always resided as a great selection in the entry-level luxury midsize sedan field.