The latest test car in my possession was the new (for 2013) Lexus ES350 sedan that came in Silver Lining Metallic. The interior included black Nuluxe leather appointed bucket seats up front with three passenger seating in the rear. This new ES350 design provides a whopping 4” of additional legroom in the rear, perhaps with an eye for the Chinese market and its chauffer-driven ownership makeup. Toyota, the Lexus parent company, has based this ES350 on its Avalon sedan instead of the Camry, as was done in the 2012 model year. The car now rests on a 111” wheelbase chassis, and overall length is 192.7”. Weight is 3,600 lbs.
The Lexus ES350 is the smallest Lexus sedan, and has been around since 1989, when it and the big LS400 Lexus came to our shores. The ES series has been Lexus’ best-selling car for fifteen years, and this year the company intends to build 60,000 units for the American market. That number includes the sister ES hybrid model, the ES300h, which I have not tested.
The test ES had an M.S.R.P. of $46,004, and that included fancy 17” alloy wheels ($110), high intensity headlamps ($515), power trunk ($400), intuitive parking assist ($500), rain-sensing wipers ($155), ultra-luxury package ($2935), nav/stereo package ($3,745), wood/leather steering wheel and shift knob ($480), and some trunk accessories ($169). By virtue of those two big-ticket items, the car had a fifteen-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, hard drive navigation system with backup camera and 7” LCD display, satellite radio, ten-way power heated and ventilated front seats, tilt/telescope, cruise, and a panorama moon roof.
Power for the ES comes from a 3.5 liter aluminum V-6 with port injection and 268 horsepower. Torque is 248 lb.-ft., and the setup is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. I liked the power train better when out on the highway than when in town, and ride out there was superb. Engine and transmission mounts on this 2013 have been reinforced, bringing vibration and noise to a minimum. Acceleration is reportedly zero to sixty in under six seconds with a top speed limited by the governor to 130 mph. EPA fuel mileage ratings are 21/31, city-highway, and I observed 23.8 mpg during my time with the Lexus. The gas tank holds 17.2 gallons.
Ruth and I trundled around Denver, picked up all three daughters, and went shopping at Cherry Creek mall with the ES. Five people fit comfortably in the sedan, and the big 15.2 cubic foot trunk held gobs of Christmas goodies and packages. I particularly enjoyed the power up/down feature of the trunk lid, like a luxury SUV might be equipped.
Spinning around Denver was most gratifying with the car set in “Sport” mode, with its quickened throttle response and increased steering effort. “Eco” is also available as well as “normal” ride control setting. Parking was a snap with the “intuitive parking assist”, a system of visual and audio warnings, as well as the mirrors that tilt down when in reverse.
The current generation ES350 is the best that has ever been offered, and although a little expensive, it represents a good choice for the midsize luxury sedan shopper.