Garry Fabian road tests and reviews the 2014 Lexus ES 350.
When the Lexus brand first arrived some twenty years ago, aimed at competing with the prestige European brands, many people expressed doubt if it would really we welcomed by buyers in that segment of the market.
But over the years it has strongly established itself in the luxury segment of the Australian market.
Few premium automotive brands have as varied a line-up as Lexus does. Instead of offering one entry-level luxury sedan, Lexus offers two.
For buyers who put the highest priority on comfort and luxury, there is the midsize, front-wheel-drive Lexus ES 350 sedan; while those desiring a harder-edged sport sedan can go with the company’s compact, rear-drive IS series.
The latest Lexus ES 350 maintains its familiar and successful formula. That means it’s a well-crafted, well-equipped luxury sedan that puts more emphasis on quiet, comfortable motoring than it does on athletic handling.
Styling is evolutionary and handsome, while the cabin boasts a modern and interesting aesthetic.
It exudes a sense of luxury in a medium price bracket for this style of car, which combined with the reputation for good engineering and quality finish provides a good package.
Under the bonnet of the latest ES 350 sits a 3.5 litre V6. As before, the transmission is a six-speed automatic transmission and all ES 350s have front-wheel drive.
Standard feature highlights include 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, premium vinyl upholstery, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Options include xenon headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, real wood trim, a rear view camera, a navigation.
There are some interesting touches in the current ES 350. One is a sun shade on the rear window, reducing glare when driving. When the car is put in reverse gear, the shade automatically lowers, and rolls up again when forward gear is engaged.
Outside mirrors fold on locking, an added bonus when parking in supermarket car parks.
The latest ES 350 delivers a refined driving experience. Handling is more sedate than before, but still, this is no sport sedan.
The ES continues to provide a very quiet drive that’s ideal for consumers ranging from harried commuters to families who enjoy frequent road trips.
All told, Lexus has updated and thus increased the appeal of its popular entry-level luxury sedan without abandoning its core character that has endeared it to its massive, often repeat-business customer base.
For buyers seeking an affordable used luxury sedan, the ES 350 makes a great choice.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 3.5 litre V6 petrol producing 204kW and 346Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Safety: Not tested
Price: from $65,000