As Lexus' second best selling vehicle next to the RX350 SUV, the new Lexus ES350 sedan is a worthy luxury sedan.
For 2013, the ES350 no longer shares its wheelbase with Camry. In fact it has grown to 111 inches, which matches Toyota’s top-line Avalon. But its width remains the same as 2012 models and it’s only slightly taller and 50 pounds lighter.
As a result of this stretch, rear legroom increased from 36 to 40 inches and passenger volume has grown to 100 cubic feet versus 95.4 in the previous model year. In essence, the ES350 fits between a Camry and Avalon in size.
ES’ styling lines give it a sexy, chiseled look. In fact the new grille appears on other Lexus models to maintain family semblance.
One item that remains almost the same is the 3.5L all aluminum V6 engine that generates 268-hp and 248 lb/ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. Its power is transferred to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission that in concert garners EPA mileage ratings of 21 city, 31-highway mpg.
Mileage on the 2013 has improved over the 2012 since Lexus went from a final drive ratio of 3.46 to 3.68. That, and a weight reduction (thanks to lighter, but stronger steel), helps improve mpg figures.
Although it’s a six-cylinder, the 3.5L sounds and performs more like a strong V8. Drivers also have the option of selecting Sport, Eco or Normal modes via a console dial. Whichever selected, the system tailors accelerator response to your desired driving mode. In Sport, throttle response was livelier, but it was tough to feel any difference between Normal and Eco; the latter serves as the economical mode.
ES’ cabin is attractive and deserving of the cars’ price. Aside from the heated steering wheel, the tan, perforated Aniline leather seats were heated and cooled, which is appreciated on hot days, especially when the car is parked in the sun all day. Interior décor was trimmed out in dark Bird’s-Eye Maple wood trim. This luxury surrounds the 7x4-inch LCD screen that serves to display Bluetooth, Lexus’ Enform, audio, GPS and rearview camera functions. And get this, there’s a built-in app for weather that shows a five-day forecast with current and predicted temps.
As for controlling the aforementioned niceties, a square, console mounted mouse does the duties. However, it was extremely sensitive requiring minute movements for selections.
My tester had a panoramic sunroof wherein the front portion opens but rear did not. It’s included in the $2,935 Ultra Luxury Package that comes with a host of amenities too long to list.
The front seats are sofa-soft and semi-supportive while the rears are similar with seating for three in a pinch. Ingress/egress is easy thanks to wide opening doors plus there’s ample leg and headroom that is more conducive to a full-size sedan.
Trunk space is on the small size since the rear seatbacks don’t fold. There’s a pass-through for long items like skis, fly rods or curtain rods. As is, the trunk can accommodate two medium size roll-a-longs or one golf bag with the long clubs pulled and stacked atop the bag. A First Aid kit resides back here as well as it’s velcro’d to the carpeted floor.
As for ride on 17-inch tires, it’s buttery smooth and quiet like all Lexus sedans and crossovers. Handling is a bit on the soft side but as a benefit, the specially tuned (for ride) suspension nicely soaks up bumps and imperfections. Included with that are as pressurized shocks. Parking too is easy as the power steering uses electric assist.
The standard equipment list is 30 items long and includes such safety items as blind-spot and lane-departure warning systems and seat and curtain airbags, stability control, electronic brake force, Smart Stop technology and more.
Once you see the ES350s loaded price, you may want to lean towards the Camry. But then again, if you can do without, the base price comes in at $35,100. To that was added the aforementioned Luxury Package, Nav/Mark Levinson premium audio package that includes everything but the kitchen sink for an extra $3,745, plus eight more convenience features and delivery that tacks on another $4,567, for a bottom line of $47,347.
Because of the options, the ES becomes very pricey. And unfortunately, Lexus packages many favorites so you can’t pick and choose.
To test drive an ES350, stop by Lehigh Valley Lexus off Tilghman Street in Cetronia. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.