AWARD-WINNING LEXUS ES350 SEDAN LITTLE CHANGED FOR 2014
By Tom Crosby
The Lexus ES350 was redesigned in 2013 and won an impressive number of awards for its sixth generation makeover.
For 2014, the V6 286 horsepower engine, HID headlights and fog lamps are standard and Siri®, Apple’s software that answers questions and helps with navigation, is now an onboard option with iPhones.
Siri is Norwegian and means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory,” something Lexus achieves with its upscale luxury, performance and ergonomic interfaces in the ES350, the company’s top-selling car. It won 2013 awards in the mid-size luxury four-door sedan category for dependability, overall value, driver’s choice and vehicle satisfaction.
Like its twin sister the hybrid ES300h, the ES350 offers an array of options which enhance safety (blind spot monitor and rear motion detector) or ramp up amenities (Luxury Package with leather and bamboo trim, heated or ventilated front seats, etc.).
Our tester added those two and seven other options costing a total of $6,722. Options are needed to maximize the ES350’s top potential. Drivers will like the standard front-wheel powered driving modes – Eco (slowest), Normal and Sport (quickest) – and the miles per gallon, especially on long drives on the Interstate where creature comforts become immensely worthwhile.
The cabin, expanded from the previous edition, is spacious for all occupants and the profile is sleek, modern and built on the same platform as the Toyota Camry, another top-seller. Both sport minimal chrome and modest front fascia that doesn’t try to be muscular.
Ride comfort is strong with the remake’s improved suspension, stiffer body and low resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels. Transmission shifts are smooth and barely noticeable, and the interior remains isolated from annoying noises, even under acceleration.
Responsive handling remains a Lexus strong point. An eight-speaker audio system works well and functions are visually displayed on an 8-inch dashboard screen accessed by Lexus’ Remote Touch system. It uses a toggle switch that is very sensitive and requires driver attention when drilling down through menus and choices.
Our tester did not have Siri®, which may reduce that need for eyes on the screen. Fit and finish complements cabin luxury, and a dashboard analog clock is a neat feature. Knick-knack spaces and trunk size are average, with rear seats having only a pass-through.
The ES350 received top crash ratings from the government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Car buyers will find numerous standard safety and luxury features on the ES350.
LIKES: Mileage, luxury, quiet, handling, ride
DISLIKES: Options needed, twitchy toggle switch
BOTTOM LINE: Toyota siblings strong competitors; Lexus name oozes luxury
- Base price w/destination fee $37,380
- Curb weight 3,549 lbs.
- Wheelbase 111 inches
- Length 192.7 inches
- Width 71.7 inches
- Engine specs 3.5 liter, DOHC, 24 valve, V6, VVT
- Horsepower 268 hp @ 6,200 rpm
- Torque 248 lb.-ft @ 4,700 rpm
- Transmission 6-speed automatic
- EPA Rating 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
- Range 17.2 gallons, regular
- Performance 0-60 in 6.5 seconds