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.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Cabin materials comport nicely with a midlevel luxury statement. This car's Ultra Luxury package adds perforated stitched leather to the cabin.
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Gauges glow with a soft luminescence at night, adding to the car's luxury feel.
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The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. But Sport and Manual modes do not make much sense in this car.
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As with many Lexus vehicles, the steering has an overboosted feel, eliminating much in the way of road feel.
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With the adaptive cruise-control option, a button on the steering wheel lets you set the following distance to traffic ahead.
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Lexus' navigation system graphics are excellent, with big, easily readable icons for destination entry.
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The system does show traffic on its 2D maps, but will not dynamically route around problems.
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Weather is just one of the data streams brought into the car through satellite radio.
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The Bluetooth phone system includes a voice-command system that lets you dial by name.
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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.
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Beyond iPod, other audio sources include Bluetooth streaming, MP3 CD, and satellite radio.
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The ES 350 has a rear-view camera, but there are no overlay lines to indicate distance or trajectory.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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