2018 ES 350 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus ES 350 is designed for comfort, with a soft ride and front-wheel drive, quite different from the firmer, rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS and GS sports sedans. This sixth-generation ES 350 isn't that far mechanically removed from the Toyota Avalon, although it feels more sophisticated and refined.
The ES 350 is a midsize car, but its wheelbase is full-size, which translates into rear-seat room. We think the ES 350 may have the most comfortable cabin in its class, thanks to attention to detail.
It handles well with nicely weighted steering, and it rides well on a suspension that's soft without being floaty.
The ES 350 uses a robust 3.5-liter V6 making 268 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's a conservative, comfortable powertrain.
There's also an ES 300h hybrid, using a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor with generator. The Drive Select system offers Eco, Power and EV (all-electric) modes.
The 2017 Lexus ES offers previously optional safety technology as standard equipment. The 2017 ES comes standard with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, intelligent high beam headlamps, and adaptive cruise control. It comes with 10 airbags, including full-length curtain airbags and rear seat side airbags. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is optional.
The ES 350 gets an EPA-rated 21 City, 31 highway, 24 Combined miles per gallon; while the ES 300h rates 40 City, 39 Highway and 39 Combined mpg.
The IIHS gives it five stars overall in crash protection, and four stars for frontal impact. But they still give it a Top Safety Pick+ award, apparently because of the standard automatic emergency braking.
The 2017 Lexus ES 350 ($38,900) comes with the 268-hp V6, while the ES 300h ($41,820) features the hybrid powertrain. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Standard equipment includes perforated NuLuxe leatherette upholstery, automatic climate control, keyless ignition, sunroof, HomeLink garage-door opener, 4.2-inch color info display, eight-speaker audio system with seven-inch screen, rearview camera, HD radio with traffic and weather data, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB/iPod connectivity, and satellite radio. For 2017 there is also an app that takes data from a smartphone to provide turn-by-turn navigation directions.
The Ultra Luxury Package lives up to its name, with gorgeous semi-aniline leather seats and exotic wood choices like bamboo. Lexus Safety Connect adds telematic services including roadside assistance, emergency assistance, a stolen vehicle locator, and automatic collision notification. More options include a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice command, Mark Levinson audio, upgraded leather and trims (or NuLuxe seats that can be heated and ventilated), and the next generation of infotainment system with apps.