Lexus ES 350 — Mid-sized sedan luxury

By David Finkelstein

Have you ever noticed that the more sophisticated the vehicle is, the owners manual comes out to be larger in size with more pages to go over? Well, when it comes to a “sophisticated automobiles” Lexus comes to mind and as expected, the owners operating manual is quite beefy.

And to turn back the clock some 25 years or so, their ES four-door model established a unique and important footing in the luxury automotive sedan segment with its elegant head turning styling, extraordinary quality and Lexus' award winning dealer experience when first introduced in 1989.

To fast forward, the new Lexus ES maintains its classical gracefulness. This is while conveying a more dynamic driving experience and luxurious craftsmanship plus notable road mannerisms. The 2015 Lexus ES 350 delivers an elevated luxury-style experience along with highly spirited performance from their 268-horsepower V6 silky smooth operating engine. Its perfectly matched with a six speed automatic transmission.

Under the heading of acceleration, ES 350 will rocket from 0 to 60 mph in just slightly over 7-seconds. It achieves an impressive 31-mpg EPA highway fuel economy rating with city driving rated at 21 mpg.

Additionally, the driver can tailor powertrain response and other settings to suit individual needs accordingly, all at the turn of a rotary dial. For instance, the ECO mode adjusts engine response and climate-control settings to help maximize fuel economy. Sport mode sharpens throttle and transmission response for a more engaging driving experience, while Normal mode is designed to provide an ideal balance of performance and efficiency.

The ES 350 bolsters its luxury portfolio with newly standard perforated NuLuxe upholstery as well as with an enhanced crystal clear backup camera system. Genuine leather-trim is available for an even more refined look and feel of the cars interior. Also new, the factory has expanded the dash mounted information and connectivity features making it more competitive in the field of on-board mobile automotive electronics.

The factory's user friendly “Enform Remote” feature includes some of the latest connect services by any auto manufacture. For example, with this paid subscription service, it allows the owner to remotely view and control certain vehicle features using their mobile phone devices. Some of these include remote door lock/unlock, remote stop/start for the vehicles engine and climate control settings as well as vehicle finder/locator and guest driver monitoring.

With this Lexus Enform App Suite, you can also upgrade to iHeartRadio 4.0 and add Slacker for more music-listening choices. Also worth mentioning is the new standard Display Audio screen. It uses a seven-inch touch-screen and also includes HD Radio, Bluetooth audio, automatic phone book transfer plus a vehicle information display and complimentary traffic and weather data provided via HD Radio.

The screen can be divided into up to three separate sections. This helps to display various functions simultaneously. For example, when the car is equipped with optional navigation, you can view the navigation map plus audio, compass or other function. The navigation system also features a 3D map with their bird’s eye view. Again, this is perhaps why the owners operating manual is the size it is, when understanding these wonderful attributes.

This Lexus has an eye pleasing stance flanked by its front spindle grille assembly. Its body style is sleek and quite timeless. The quality of the flawless painted surfaces is noting less than world class. Furthermore, the ES 350 cabin offers 40-inch rear legroom, which is on par with larger luxury sedans.

The sweeping roofline doesn't compromise rear-seat headroom, which is actually one inch greater than the previous-generation design.

The ES 350 also comes with standard features such as;10-way adjustable power front seats, clear Optitron gauges and automatic climate control. Optional is 12-way heated/ventilated power front seats.

Under the heading of safety, the car is featured with 10 airbags and an array of available driver aids that includes a Pre-Collision System and Lane Departure Alert. The optional Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert helps detect vehicles in side blind spots and can alert the driver to rear cross traffic when backing out of a parking space.

Using Lexus' newest generation remote touch system controller (mounted on the center console), you can operate the climate control, audio system, phone, navigation system and more. The car is offered with Premium and Luxury packages coupled with the Ultra Luxury Package, delivering flagship-style amenities.

Upgrades in the audio system also include their Mark Levinson Premium Sound system with 835-watts of power sending sound fidelity out to 15 strategically positioned speakers. New suspension changes offer up a quicker steering ratio and more precise handling. Increased body rigidity achieved through lightweight, high tensile strength steel, added bracing and more spot welds then previous generation models.

Standard are 215/55R17 low rolling resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels or optional high-gloss 17-inch wheels. 18-inch high-gloss alloy wheels are optional. Some of the warranty highlights are: 48-month/50,000 mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles, plus 72 months/70,000 miles powertrain and restraint system coverage.

The model I drove had an MSRP of $44,145 after some additional option packages and destination charges. In the United States, Lexus vehicles are sold through a 235-dealer network.