The Truth About Cars » Lexus ES350 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Lexus ES350 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Pre-Production Review: 2013 Lexus ES 350 & ES 300h http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/pre-production-review-2013-lexus-es-350-es-300h/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/pre-production-review-2013-lexus-es-350-es-300h/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2012 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=447618 The Lexus ES has been the best-selling Lexus sedan for decades, outselling every Lexus model except for the RX. While the ES was originally designed as the Japanese luxury brand’s entry-level vehicle in America, it is slowly becoming one of Lexus’ flagship products. To prove to us that Lexus has what it takes to reign […]

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The Lexus ES has been the best-selling Lexus sedan for decades, outselling every Lexus model except for the RX. While the ES was originally designed as the Japanese luxury brand’s entry-level vehicle in America, it is slowly becoming one of Lexus’ flagship products. To prove to us that Lexus has what it takes to reign supreme in the FWD luxury class they created in 1989, they flew us up to Oregon to sample the all-new, sixth generation ES 350 and 300h hybrid.

Exterior

“Why would you pay more for a fancy Camry?” Every Lexus owner has heard that statement from someone before. For 2013, the new ES rides on a variant of the Toyota Avalon’s skeleton. You won’t find any “Avalon” in the ES’s sheetmetal however. While the ES remains a very sedate sedan, the “spindle grille” seems to suit the ES better than the more expensive GS. Despite sharing nothing with the old ES, the new model is instantly recognizable, and that’s how Lexus owners like it (or so we are told.)

Interior

Aside from the rubbery dash and the wood trim, the old interior had a very “mid-market sedan” feel to it, primarily due to its and aging style. Lexus decided to bring the ES significantly upmarket with an all-new interior themed after the 2013 GS model we sampled earlier in the year. While the style isn’t quite my cup of tea, the fit and finish is perhaps the best in the Lexus lineup, easily rivaling the current generation LS. Regardless of your model or color choice, the dashboard is always black and always sports hand-stitched pleather. Unlike Buick’s molded-then-stitched dash, the ES’s interior is actually crafted by a skilled team of 12 in Japan, on sewing machines. While nobody at Lexus would comment, I couldn’t help drawing a comparison to the Lincoln MKS and Cadillac XTS. Why? Because the ES has grown inside, dishing out a whopping 40 inches of rear legroom (4 more than before, and suspiciously identical to the XTS). The ES’s interior is easily several steps ahead of the domestics when it comes to haptic quality, except for one major faux pas: the key fob. Like the new GS, the ES’s key feels incredibly cheap. Key quibbles aside, the ES delivers all the luxury schtick you could ask for, from heated rear seats and rear window shades to 10 standard airbags and a power trunk lid.

Drivetrain

While the 268HP V6 and 6-speed automatic transaxle are carried over from last year’s ES, Toyota has tweaked the transmission’s shift logic for greater efficiency. We tested the V6 model and it sprinted to 60MPH a hair faster (6.35 seconds) than the 2012 model we tested recently. This is thanks to revised transmission and traction control software that allow the vehicle to apply power with less wheel spin. While these refinements are interesting, the big news for 2013 is the ES hybrid. For the ES 300h, Lexus lifted the hybrid system out of the Camry Hybrid. Delivering 200 total system horsepower and about 200lb-ft of torque (Lexus has not released an official number yet), the system was able to scoot the model we tested to 60 in 7.28 seconds, or 3/10ths of a second slower than the lighter Camry Hybrid. Lexus is promising a luxury-segment besting 40MPG city, 39 city, 40 combined.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Infotainment

Base ES models were unavailable for testing, but we are told they are equipped with an 8-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and iPod integration and XM radio. Opting for the “display audio” buys you a 7-inch LCD coupled with the standard surround-sound system. A bump up to the navigation system gets you an 8-inch screen and opens the door to the 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. The ML system sounds as good as it does in the GS with a very natural balance and an excellent surround system. Sadly, Lexus’s awkward joystick/mouse interface came along for the ride. With Lexus’ market leaning towards older customers, I have a hard time believing my parents would be able to use the system.

Drive

Our brief 120 mile drive around the Oregon countryside, it was obvious there were no major theological shifts at work inside Lexus. The ES is still a softly sprung FWD highway cruiser. The thick rimmed steering wheel and sport button promise sporty driving, but when pushed moderately, the front heavy ES heads for the bushes. You know what? I’m OK with that. If you want something sportier, get a GS F-Sport. Out on the road the hybrid ES 300h gives up a bit more grip thanks to different tire choices and a bit more curb weight, but it countered that with an impressive 42MPG average in our brief test. Thanks to electric power steering, all models are as numb as a remote-controlled car. As the industry continues to chase MPGs, numb steering is getting so normal that the ES is no worse than a number of German vehicles I could mention. Despite what Lexus may tell you, the Sport mode doesn’t help much.

 

Lexus has not finalized pricing as of this time, but we were told to expect the ES 350 to be “substantially similar” in pricing to the 2012 model. In addition to not raising the pricing bar, Lexus claims the ES will have “the lowest hybrid premium in the luxury market.” Since the Lincoln MKZ hybrid is the same price as the gasoline version, make what you will out of that. With a pricing scheme likely to range from $37,500-$48,000, it is worth pointing out that this significantly undercuts the FWD Lincoln MKS and the FWD Cadillac XTS by a fair margin. While the new ES may not set your loins on fire, it does offer a compelling balance of luxury features and will no doubt continue to be Lexus’ best selling sedan. With competition like this, Caddy and Lincoln had better watch their back, Lexus isn’t pulling any punches.

Lexus flew me to Porland and put me up in a swanky hotel for 20 hours so we could attend the regional launch event. The food was great, the weather was terrible.

Specifications as tested

2013 ES 350

0-30 MPH: 2.55 Seconds

0-60 MPH: 6.35 Seconds

2013 ES 300h

0-30 MPH: 3.2 Seconds

0-60 MPH: 7.28 Seconds

 

2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, front, spindle grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Cargo, trunk, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Cargo, trunk, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Interior, dashboard, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Interior, dashboard, driver's side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Interior, center console, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, front grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Exterior, wheels, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Interior, door panels, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Hybrid engine, 2.5L, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Hybrid engine, 2.5L, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Entune infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Entune infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Entune infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Entune infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 2012 Lexus ES350 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-lexus-es350/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/review-2012-lexus-es350/#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2012 21:30:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=435004 2013 will bring a new version of the Lexus ES, and we’ve already seen its new mug from photographers in China. Yet even with the new ES in the wings, Lexus is on track to sell 40,000 “lame duck” models, making it the most popular Lexus car and the second most popular Lexus vehicle after the […]

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2013 will bring a new version of the Lexus ES, and we’ve already seen its new mug from photographers in China. Yet even with the new ES in the wings, Lexus is on track to sell 40,000 “lame duck” models, making it the most popular Lexus car and the second most popular Lexus vehicle after the RX350. As a goodbye to the “Lexus Camry,” we took one for a road trip from Northern California to Southern California – a sort of farewell to an important but sometimes misunderstood luxury car.

Last time we took a look at the ES350 was back in 2006, when Sajeev captained the all-new fifth generation ES350 for a week. Since then, the ES350 has had a mild face-lift with a revised grille, new tail lights and some new wheels. The overall proportions are all still slab-sided and plain, and the ES350 remains true to the Lexus mission statement: elegant and reserved. While the form is unlikely to ignite any serious passion, it is undeniably attractive, even when you figure in the slightly droopy nose (pictured above). Back in 2006 the stylish (but similarly boring) new LaCrosse didn’t exist yet, however in typical GM fashion the 2012 Buick merely matches rather than exceeds the ES350, making the volume Lexus a sound choice on aesthetics. Thankfully there are no “ventiports” to be found on the ES.

Stepping inside the ES350, it’s obvious why the ES sells well. While the styling and color choices may not be to everyone’s liking, Lexus’ attention to detail is class-leading, from perfect seams to perfect color matching on all the buttons and trim parts.  All ES models are equipped with your choice of birds eye maple or the reddish “brown walnut”  trim our tester was fitted with. If you believe true luxury comes with real dead treess inside, then the Lexus easily trumps the Acura and Buick with their plastic substitute. Taking the luxury feel up a notch, Lexus would be happy to sell you semi-aniline leather and a wood/leather steering wheel. We had the opportunity to take the ES350 for a 700-mile round-trip journey to Los Angeles, where it proved a comfortable highway cruiser with supportive seats, although I wished the range of adjustment was greater, as some drivers may not be able to adjust them to their liking. Should you need to haul the kiddos with you, it is possible to squeeze two rear facing child seats and a booster seat in the back. If your rear-seat occupants are adults, you should know that although the ES350 is a fairly wide vehicle, the thicker front seats and rear seat angles compared to its Camry cousin, with less room than the Acura TL, Hyundai Azera, Buick LaCrosse and Lincoln MKZ. The other side of the legroom-coin? Front seats that are thickly padded and comfortable. Expect 2013 to pay homage to the latest trend of faux-stitched dashboards, which is one area where the rubbery dash of the ES350 takes a middle-of-the-pack ranking.

Lexus starts the ES350 off with a standard 8-speaker sound system with in-dash 6 CD changer, XM Radio, and Bluetooth and iPod/USB interfaces. Jumping up to the $2,465 navigation package gets you a backup camera, XM data services (traffic, weather and stock quotes) and the OnStar-like Safety Connect system. The base system is one of the better entry units in this segment providing well-balanced audio and enough bass to satisfy most shoppers. Should you desire more, the $4,065 Mark Levinson sound system is available which combines the same nav system with a 14-speaker 7.1-channel audio system and a 6-disc DVD changer. iPod integration is as good as any entry in this segment save the superior SYNC systems from Ford and Lincoln. Unless Lexus has something new up their sleeve, don’t look to 2013 for major improvements as the latest Lexus models have shown little is changing with infotainment system software except for their new joystick-like controller, which I find difficult to use, and “Entune” smartphone app integration. I doubt the ES customer base cares about Bing searches and Pandora streaming (especially with draconian cellular data throttling in the USA).

People that dislike the ES or the Lexus brand usually resort to one phrase: “It’s just a fancy Toyota.” The ES350 shares essentially no touch-points or sheetmetal with the Camry (unlike the Lincoln MKZ and Ford Fusion), but they do share a drivetrain. The ES350 uses Toyota’s ubiquitous 2GR-FE 3.5L V6 engine, found in everything from the Camry to the Lotus Evora. While the engine isn’t as flashy as its direct injection cousin found in the IS350 and GS350, its 268HP and 248lb-ft of torque are about all you’d want in a front driver, it drinks regular 87 octane gasoline, and the lack of DI makes the engine quieter at idle than the DI engine in the new GS. Sending the power to the ground is the same 6-speed automatic the Camry uses with slightly reprogrammed shift points. The extra weight of the ES350’s considerable sound-deadening effort and luxury trappings as well as a slightly higher coefficient of drag are the reasons why the ES350 takes a 1MPG toll compared to the Camry. The EPA rates it at 19 city, 28 highway and 22 combined. During our 1,321 miles with the ES350 in mixed driving and plenty of high-speed I-5 travel we averaged a respectable 27MPG, only 2.9MPG less than the considerably less powerful LaCrosse eAssist in our tests, and within 1MPG of the direct competition. Before you consider this a win for the ES350, recall that the Buick and TL offer 300HP from their powerplants.

When the going gets twisty, those interested in twisting around the apex rather than getting twisted around a tree off the side of the cliff should probably buy the Acura TL. If floating along the road as if wrapped in a leather cocoon is more your style, the ES350 is the car for you. If you needed proof of the ES350’s mission, it can be found in the narrow and tall 215/55 tires selected for their comfortable ride and low road noise. In comparison, the TL’s standard 245 rubber yields far superior grip, and even the LaCrosse with it’s 235/50R18s could be described as a corner carver in comparison, yet that’s not the ES350’s mission. The light steering, eagerness to return to center, low road noise and soft suspension make the ES350 the car you want to take on a long American road trip, not a hot lap ’round the ‘ring.

Our tester was a Swansong Edition “Touring Edition” ES which for $110 over the base price adds some rich-looking saddle colored leather and some very red-looking maple trim. With the Touring Edition, you also have to select the $2,465 navigation system with backup camera, XM traffic and Lexus’ Enform system. Our car was also equipped with heated and ventilated seats for $640, a full-size spare with matching wheel for $205, the wood/leather steering wheel and shifter for $330 and a trunk mat for $105 bringing our out-the-door total; to $41,445 after an $875 destination fee. Adjusting for features and the lack of real-tree in the LaCrosse, the prices are fairly similar.

As the ES’s sales record has proved, I’m not alone in liking what many unfairly call a gilded Camry. While it’s clear that after almost 5 years of the competition catching up, the ES350 is no longer the clear-cut leader in this segment, it is never the less a firm competitor in its final year of sales. The ES350 may not be as exciting as an Acura, but with a solid brand reputation and dealers known to coddle shoppers, the ES350 will likely continue its success into the next generation.

Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Statistics as tested

0-30MPH: 2.8 Seconds

0-60MPH: 6.4 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.8 Seconds @ 96MPH

Average economy: 27MPG over 1,321 miles

2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, rear 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, side, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, wheel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, grille, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, headlamp, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, front, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, tachometer, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, speedometer, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, gauges, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, speedometer, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, power button, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, driver's side dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, passenger's dashboard, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, center console, shifter, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, HVAC and infotainment, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, shifter, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, door panel, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, trunk, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, trunk, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Interior, rear seats, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Engine, 3.5L V6, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Engine, 3.5L V6, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Lexus ES350, Engine, 3.5L V6, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes es350 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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