2011 ES 350 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus ES 350 is smooth, quiet, sophisticated, competent, and comfortable. It doesn't have the firm ride or quick responses of a German sports sedan, so you can safely sip a cappuccino on the way to work. The ride is smooth and even, the engine is velvety and powerful, the 6-speed automatic transmission is flawless, the comfort is supreme, the trip is quiet, everything works the way it's supposed to, the total experience is superb.
The ES 350 is quick and responsive, benefiting from a silky V6 engine that makes 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Lexus says the ES 350 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, a solid performance. The ES 350 uses front-wheel drive.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 19/27 mpg City/Highway. Regular gas (87 octane) is recommended by Lexus for 2011 whereas previously Premium was recommended. The change reduces power slightly, horsepower by about 1.5 percent, torque by about 2 percent. The ES 350 is certified to the Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle II, or ULEV II, standard.
There are no significant changes for 2011. For 2010, there were substantial changes, including revised styling, a revised interior, and technology upgrades. The ES was last redesigned for the 2007 model year.
The 2011 Lexus ES 350 ($35,525) comes with leather seating surfaces and trim, 10-way power front seats; power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel; dual-zone automatic climate control; power glass sunroof; eight-speaker AM/FM/6CD, XM Satellite Radio, and MP3/iPod input jack; programmable SmartAccess keyless entry; and all the other amenities one would expect. Tires are P215/55R17 all-season radials on 17-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels.
Option packages: The Lexus Premium Audio with Navigation ($2,465) includes Bluetooth, HDD Navigation with touch-screen, rear-view camera, Lexus Enform with Destination Assist, eDestination and Safety Connect, Lexus Insider, voice command casual language recognition, XM NavTraffic and NavWeather, and XM Sports/Stocks. The Navigation System/Mark Levinson Audio Package ($4,065) includes all the features of the Premium Audio with Navigation, and adds Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio with DVD Audio/Video, 14 speakers, and 5.1-channel playback.
The Ultra-Luxury Package ($3,535) includes 10-spoke alloy wheels, black and saddle interior with double-contrast stitching for seats and trim, High Intensity Discharge headlamps with Adaptive Front Lighting, a panorama glass roof, power rear sunshade, semi-aniline interior, and wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.
Other options include wood and leather shift knob ($330), heated and ventilated front seats ($640), Intuitive Park Assist ($500), High Intensity Discharge headlamps ($815), and the Lexus Pre-Collision System ($1,500). Additional options and accessories are available.
Safety features that come standard on the ES 350 include dual front airbags, dual front knee airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags (for torso protection), curtain airbags (for head protection), electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitor. A two-chamber passenger airbag is designed to stop the passenger's upper body and torso with minimal facial contact and neck stress on deployment. The optional Pre-Collision System includes a radar-based cruise control 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 initializes the brake system for full panic-braking power.