2015 Lexus ES 350 Review
A very spry couch.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: May 29th, 2015
This is the Lexus ES. It's a platform relative of the Toyota Camry. As such, it carries just about the same level of excitement that a standard Camry does - that is to say, not much. In fact, that's what we'd say if somebody asked us what the changes for the Lexus ES were in the 2015 model year; the only changes come by way of the navigation system, which now includes a customizable home screen, 3D maps, and other small additions. Otherwise, the ES trudges into 2015 nearly unchanged.
That's a good thing, though, in a way; Lexus ES buyers are accustomed to a certain level of plush luxury, devoid of any mention of g-forces or spirited driving. Lexus really knows its market with the ES, which is why next year's facelift will be very minor at best. If you want a sportier experience, the IS is more for you. This car is for those who prefer to drive from Point A to Point B in what amounts to a couch on wheels.
This is a great place to sit, no bones about it. The ES 350 is an exercise in interior comfort, even without any option boxes ticked. Ours, though, came with the Luxury Package, which includes such interior appointments as a leather-trimmed interior, maple wood trim, and a power-tilt-and-telescoping steering column. That package, in conjunction with the optional wood-trimmed steering wheel and power rear sunshade, has the interior looking as luxurious as it feels. Every panel within eyeshot looks premium, and soft-touch material abounds. You, your children, your grandparents - no matter who buys it, they'll definitely remark on how comfortable it is.
Take five seconds to watch the closest major road. You'll probably see three different generations of Lexus ES drive by. It's a popular car with folks that prefer to fly under the radar, and its low-key exterior reinforces that notion. Anonymous styling isn't necessarily a detriment, so long as it can carry some degree of timelessness with it, but the ES 350's front fascia is far from evergreen; in 2015, the styling is growing tired and could definitely use a refresh. Expect that to arrive next year. It looks like a car that's driven because you need to drive, not because you want to.
On the Road
If there was any way to turn an expensive couch into an actual car, its driving dynamics would no doubt resemble the Lexus ES 350. Lacking any sort of adaptive dampers or magnetorheological whatever-the-hell, the ES 350 is a straightforward and comfortable experience; you get in, slap the shifter into D, and relax. The damping is profoundly soft, soaking up bumps and pavement undulations with nary a jitter making its way through the chassis, up the seat, and into the relaxed collection of flesh and bone you call yourself. The steering is as light as the damping is soft, again nearly entirely devoid of feeling. It's like watching somebody else drive a car with a camera on their head; you're very nearly disconnected from the whole thing.
However, if you need to push the gas pedal into the firewall, the ES 350 will show a surprising amount of hustle. With 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque coursing through the driveline to the front wheels, it's staggeringly easy to break the comfort-centric tires loose at lower speeds. If you prefer to rack up MPGs rather than speeding tickets, though, the ES 350 will still help you out. In our driving, we found it easy to achieve the car's EPA-estimated 21-mpg city rating, and we found it even easier to surpass its 31-mpg highway rating.
Aside from its aging countenance, the ES 350 is a near-perfect car for its target audience. This isn't a car being shopped by thrill-seekers; that's the IS, or perhaps even the RC. This is a car that appeals to the driving-as-an-annoyance crowd, the ones who want to go from Point A to Point B with exactly zero drama in a reliable machine. There's no pretension of anything remotely fun in this car, except for the Sport mode that Lexus could have removed without anybody noticing.
This might not be the car for you. But that's fine, because for somebody else, somebody with a different set of values, this car is like listening to Abbey Road for the first time. It'll hook you for life.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Power Output: 268 horsepower / 248 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 21 city / 31 highway
Base Price: $37,550
As Tested: $44,145 (incl. $925 destination)
Premium Package: Power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, seat-and-mirror-position memory linked to each key, bird's-eye maple wood trim
Luxury Package: Premium Package, plus perforated leather-trimmed interior, heated and ventilated front seats
Ultra Luxury Package: Luxury Package, plus semi-aniline leather-trimmed interior, driver's seat power cushion extender, panoramic glass roof, power rear sunshade, ambient interior lighting
Navigation and Mark Levinson Package: Voice-activated navigation, eight-inch LCD display, Mark Levinson premium audio system, Remote Touch infotainment controller, Lexus Enform app suite
Individual Options: HID headlamps, forward collision warning with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert with automatic high beams, heated front seats, parking sensors, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, power trunk open/close, wood-and-leather-trimmed shift knob and steering wheel, power rear sunshade, rain-sensing wipers
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Lexus ES 350, click here: 2015 Lexus ES 350.