The Lexus ES made its debut in 1989 as the ES 250 which was based on the Toyota Camry. Lexus then created the ES 300 in 1992. It was not until the 2002 model year that the company started moving the ES away from the Camry. Then Lexus released the ES 350 for the 2007 model year and for the 2013 model year, the sedan received a full overhaul. With its third birthday on the way, Lexus has released a refreshed version, giving it a facelift and some salient luxury features.
If you’re looking for an entry-level luxury sedan that gives you a relaxed, serene transportation, you’ll find that the 2016 Lexus ES 350 is a marvelous choice. The 2016 Lexus ES is a luxury sedan that focuses on comfort based on the Avalon architecture from Toyota. This is a well-made and balanced vehicle that gives you solid performance and genuine value.
Let’s start with the exterior, shall we? Our tester came in the beautiful Eminent White Pearl, and we were immediately impressed with the looks. The spindle grille is a design element that we absolutely love. For the 2016 model, it gets even better – a one piece version with a stronger, bolder style that is framed by a sophisticated satin chrome trim. It also has the standard LED headlights at the corners, which makes the ES 350 look like a superstar especially at night.
Also, it has a front fascia that is fully redesigned with the fog lights at the corners, accentuating the vehicle’s wide stance. If you go to the rear, you will see the same sophistication there too, with distinctive L-themed headlights and new rectangular exhaust ports that peek through a restyled rear fascia, the same as the flagship LS. Here is a little cool fact on the paint – the 350 has a self-healing clear coat technology.
There is another thing you need to know before you go out and test this tech out by keying your hood, and that is the tech is actually intended to deal with these pesky scratches that you see on cars after they have been through loads of touch-type car washes or when a dirty towel is used to clean the car.
Other prolific exterior features include intermittent wipers with mist cycle, automatic on/off led low beam and halogen high beam headlamps with integrated fog lamps and LED daytime running lights, electrochromic heated exterior mirrors, and 17-inch split 10-spoke machined finish wheels.
We think the 2016 Lexus ES 350 looks stunning – we definitely think it deserves a 9 out of 10 when it comes to appearance. It is a head turner for sure.
Over the years, we have reviewed countless cars that have beautiful interiors. But after a week with the ES 350, we think that this car might be the best all of the previous vehicles we have tested. The vehicle came in the stunning Flaxen perforated leather with Matte Honey bamboo trim. Absolutely beautiful – we think the interior department deserves a 10/10. There is not any flaw. The interior is impeccable.
The 2016 Lexus ES 350 has a power rear sunshade to help reduce unwanted glare, and can be operated at the push of a button. To give you added visibility, you can temporarily lower the shade when you place the vehicle in reverse. The vehicle also features cool illuminated door sills which help prevent you from stepping in puddles or other potential hazards when exiting or approaching the vehicle, meaning that the exterior lights illuminate when you approach the car. Wow! White LED illumination welcomes you inside the car.
Located where your hands naturally rest, the interior has a heated leather and wood-trimmed steering wheel, with the heating element continually monitoring and adjusting the heating levels to maintain a set temperature. The power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel feature allows the wheel to tilt “steplessly” upward and move forward, meaning that you can easily select the steering-wheel position you are most comfortable with. The luxury package also includes rain-sensing deicer and wipers.
Taking the comfort of the standard seats to another level, the thoughtfully embossed-stitched and perforated leather-trimmed front seats are ventilated and can be heated too! What’s more? You can get separate heaters and fans in the seat cushions to make your ride comfortable as can be, regardless of the weather. The interior features the Lexus Memory System for the driver’s seat (more on this later) and this amazing car comes with a remote keyless entry-linked memory.
The Navigation System/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package is another expensive option available for you. The Mark Levinson 15-speaker system with 835-watt Premium Surround Sound system with single in-dash DVD/CD player is included in the Luxury Package.
Another luxury interior option is a navigation system with backup camera. You can use the high-resolution multimedia display or your voice to access the available navigation system. With this system, you can map millions of points of interest nationwide and the system can display information in English, French, and Spanish.
What is awesome about is that in addition to offering you 3D city views, up-to-date traffic and weather information, and simulated views of approaching highway junctions, it displays the current speed limit and if you begin to run low on fuel, it can automatically display nearby fuel stations. All these features help make your drive convenient and stress-free. You may be able to avoid getting a speeding ticket as well.
Wondering what else you can get? An 8” VGA screen with a remote touch controller. With the remote touch, you can seamlessly move through logical menus of the vehicle’s features. To give you comfort and convenience, it is centrally located with buttons on either side, accessible to both you and your front passenger.
New users may find this remote touch system a little challenging to get used to, but after testing many other Lexus vehicles, we think that this is a sparkling feature to have. With this available remote touch feature, multiple drivers can personalize and recall the settings for the driver’s seat (except lumbar), steering-wheel position, and outside mirrors. The front passenger-seat memory (Lexus Memory System) functionality gives you added convenience.
We have to mention how impressed we are with the ES 350’s craftsmanship. You will feel the difference when you put your hands on every surface in the interior. The sculpted dash with its fine stitching – a handcrafted piece of art for sure. The new, available seating with embossed-stitch also feels spectacular on the fingertips and makes the vehicle look plush and modern. Apart from exquisite stitching, the hand-selected espresso bird’s-eye maple accents give you consistency throughout the cabin.
The interior design of the 2016 ES 360 is not impressive only from the driver’s seat. Even your passengers will appreciate the incredible design. We also liked the extended platform that gives you additional space. The rear seats are ergonomic and offer generous headroom and legroom, giving you the feel of a chauffeured elegant sedan.
Now that we’ve gushed about the exterior and interior, let’s talk about fuel economy. The EPA rates the ES 350 at 31 highway, 21 city for a combined 24 mpg. You may not be wowed by the numbers, but when you consider its powerful V-6 engine, which gives you a quick and smooth ride, these numbers seem reasonable. You can attain much better numbers when you drive in Eco mode – we selected Sport mode most of the time.
The Lexus ES 350 is bound to appeal to most car enthusiasts and a range of buyers. The car’s powertrain includes a 268-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine for a more than zippy performance. The 248 lb.-ft. of torque is notable as well with a clean 6-speed automatic transmission. This ES can reach 0-60 in about 7.1 seconds.
Lexus’ Drive Select system allows you to choose how the hybrid system responds and make it more efficient. Sport mode steps up the responsiveness and you can alter the powertrain for throttle response that’s faster and more dynamic. On Eco mode, you can moderate the engine power output, throttle response and climate settings to increase fuel efficiency. EV mode allows the car to travel short distances at low speeds without the use of any gasoline. It’s good for stop-and-go traffic and creeping into the driveway.
While its driving demeanor is relaxed, you might be surprised by the athleticism of this model when you really need it to hustle. You get a ride that is firm enough to create a buttoned-down feel, but this does not get in the way of comfort. It has quite a predictable straight-line tracking, and the steering has a nice weight and is fairly quick. You will find that in total, the car has a surprisingly athletic feel.
Another job that Lexus has done excellently in the ES 350 is the isolation of noise from the engine, road, and wind. This boosts the refinement of the car.
However, there is one area that we think needs improvement and that is the brake-pedal response. After driving the ES 350 a couple of times, we found the feel of the pedal to be much too spongy, meaning that it lacks any reassuring firmness.
The ES 350 can move very quickly because of its 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It essentially has the same engine as the Camry V-6, but provided with added measures to help cut down vibration and noise. The gears of the 6-speed automatic allows it to rev up with such a seamless power flow and so little noise that on a straight road, you will feel the speed creep up on you. On gentle takeoffs, you will find the shifting to be a little lumpy, but we have to say that this is a powertrain that is exceptionally responsive and refined.
In addition to the styling updates, the 2016 ES 350 comes with a new active safety package. With the Lexus Safety System+ package, you get lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and intelligent high beam headlights. Rear cross-traffic alerts and blind-spot monitoring are also included in this excellent luxury sedan’s safety features.
Lexus Enform Safety Connect gives you peace of mind as it ensures that assistance will be available when you need it most. No matter what type of emergency you have, you can get assistance sent directly to your vehicle’s GPS location. This safety feature is complimentary for the first year of ownership.
The ES 350 also has a backup camera with dynamic gridlines. When you place the vehicle into reverse, you get the view from the backup camera on the multimedia display in full color, with dynamic gridlines to help you with parking as well as other maneuvers.
The blind spot monitor is designed to detect and warn you of vehicles positioned in the adjacent lanes or approaching so you can change lanes with confidence. And for even more confidence, the sedan offers the rear cross-traffic alert that can be of amazing help to you when backing out of a parking space as it notifies you of vehicles approaching from either side.
The ES 350 has other fantastic safety features such as the whiplash injury lessening front seats, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control, vehicle stability control, traction control (TRAC), intelligent high-beam headlamps, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, vehicle proximity notification system, LED headlamps, child restraint seat (CRS) tether anchor brackets and 10-standard-airbag system.
The 2016 Lexus ES 350 does not disappoint in the tech department. It has lots of cool stuff to give you a smart, convenient, and luxurious ride. The Lexus Enform App Suite, which is available on popular mobile platforms, provides access to your mobile apps through the center-console display. After you download the app on your compatible smartphone, you can stream music, listen to live radio nationwide, search local listings, buy movie tickets and place restaurant reservations – all from the driver’s seat. And, you can easily access and control the features of the App Suite with advanced voice recognition. Lexus Enform App Suite is complimentary for the first year of ownership.
Other tech features are Lexus Enform Destinations, Lexus Enform Remote, Lexus Enform Service Connect, and the Mark Levinson 15-Speaker Premium Surround Sound Audio System.
What we like – We are impressed with the V-6 engine, smooth handling, and comfortable ride, the well-designed, well-built luxurious interior and spacious rear legroom.
What we don’t like – The Lexus ES350 is a stunner with barely any room for complaints. This is a car that will impress you with its power, looks, and performance. The only minor drawback we felt was the brake-pedal response we felt during a test drive. Besides that, this car is impeccable.
Priced at $43,790, the 2016 Lexus ES 350 is a fabulous option for those who are looking for a mid-range luxury sedan, but we would like to mention that there are other excellent options in this price range and you might think the driving experience is slightly better in some of its rivals like the Cadillac XTS, Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai Azera, and Lincoln MKS. But all in all, the ES 350 does have a lot of valuable points that make it a fantastic buy. Besides that, who has time to test drive every one of these cars and compare every nuance? If you choose the ES 350, you are making a stellar choice.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2016 Victor Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog