2007 ES 350 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus ES is all-new for 2007. Boasting a new 3.5-liter engine, the 2007 Lexus ES 350 is more powerful than last year's ES 330. In fact, the Lexus ES with this new engine is now a serious performer. We were impressed with it and found it quick and responsive. Lexus says it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, a solid performance from its 272-horsepower engine. Likewise, the steering and handling are much more responsive than with last year's model.
Still, the Lexus ES is a luxury sedan that celebrates smoothness, quietude and sophistication. It doesn't suffer the hard ride of a sports sedan. You can safely sip a cappuccino on the way to work. The ride is smooth, the engine is smooth, the transmission operation is flawless, and everything is quiet.
The Lexus ES has come a long way. When Toyota launched its Lexus brand of luxury cars in 1989, its entry-level car was the ES 250, a thinly disguised Camry chassis and powertrain with an upgraded body and interior. This car's role was to give the new dealers some sales volume to help support the big LS 400. With each of the succeeding four generations of ES, the car has better met the needs of the upper end of the entry-luxury segment, with more room, more space, more power and more standard equipment. And more safety features. The all-new 2007 ES 350 makes the greatest single leap in ES history.
The ES uses front-wheel drive, while the Lexus IS models are rear-wheel drive. In short, the ES is designed more for luxury and a smooth, comfortable ride, while the IS models are designed more for performance and handling.
The ES 350 will compete with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G35 and M35, Audi A6, Saab 9-3, Volvo S60 and a host of domestics in this popular class. Pricing for the 2007 ES 350 was not available at press time.
The 2007 Lexus ES 350 comes as one model, but the buyer can opt for a huge range of equipment by selecting Premium, Premium Plus, Ultra Luxury, Pre-Collision, and Adaptive Cruise options packages. Freestanding options include park assist, a power rear sunshade, heated and ventilated front seats, a full-size spare tire, a wood and leather trim package, and DVD navigation with backup camera.
Optional equipment includes a navigation system, satellite radio (XM or Sirius), a 14-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system, Bluetooth wireless capability for cellphones, a panoramic glass roof, and radar-adaptive cruise control.
Safety features that come standard on the ES 350 include dual front airbags, a knee airbag, side-impact airbags (for torso protection), curtain airbags (for head protection), electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), and a tire-pressure monitor system. A new two-chamber passenger airbag is designed to stop your passenger's upper body and torso with minimal facial contact and neck stress on deployment.
The Pre-Collision package includes a radar-based cruise control system that automatically maintains a preset distance between the ES 350 and the car ahead. If the system senses an imminent collision, it retracts all the outboard seatbelts and triggers full panic-braking power at the pedal (but it doesn't close the windows and the sunroof like the Mercedes-Benz system).