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Although many competitors strive for sport luxury, the Lexus ES 350 doesn't play that game, merely built to give its occupants a comfortable ride. And in that regard, this front-wheel-drive vehicle succeeds well.
Lexus calls its design language L-Finesse, which can be seen here in the way the grille extends to points in its top corners, blending into the fender line below the hood.
The ES 350 uses Lexus' 3.5-liter V-6, providing a comfortable, but not excessive, amount of power for the car. EPA mileage is surprisingly good at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
With its low roofline, the ES 350 cuts a sleek profile. But the thickness of the rear pillar shows that ample rear headroom has been designed into the car.
A front-wheel-drive platform keeps the power train efficient and simple, and the suspension is tuned for a comfortable ride, doing a good job of dampening bumps without oscillation.
Lexus fits the ES 350 with a glass roof, which not only looks good from the outside, but allows for a moonroof over the rear seat.
Cabin materials comport nicely with a midlevel luxury statement. This car's Ultra Luxury package adds perforated stitched leather to the cabin.
Gauges glow with a soft luminescence at night, adding to the car's luxury feel.
The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. But Sport and Manual modes do not make much sense in this car.
As with many Lexus vehicles, the steering has an overboosted feel, eliminating much in the way of road feel.
With the adaptive cruise-control option, a button on the steering wheel lets you set the following distance to traffic ahead.
Lexus' navigation system graphics are excellent, with big, easily readable icons for destination entry.
The system does show traffic on its 2D maps, but will not dynamically route around problems.
Weather is just one of the data streams brought into the car through satellite radio.
The Bluetooth phone system includes a voice-command system that lets you dial by name.
The iPod integration uses tabs for different music categories. Scrolling down through a list of artists or albums causes the system to start playing the first thing it lands on; an annoying feature.
Beyond iPod, other audio sources include Bluetooth streaming, MP3 CD, and satellite radio.
The ES 350 has a rear-view camera, but there are no overlay lines to indicate distance or trajectory.