2007 Lexus ES350 – Test drive and new car review – 2007 Lexus ES350

26 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2007 Lexus ES350 – Test drive and new car review – 2007 Lexus ES350
Lexus ES350

You won’t find a better luxury-car bargain

The first time I drove a Mercedes E-Class, I thought it was the perfect sedan with everything I could want for comfortable day-to-day motoring. I feel the same way about the new-for-2007 Lexus ES350. This, the most understated of the Lexus family, offers virtually all the creature comforts one could ask for wrapped in a sensibly-sized front-wheel-drive package that’s elegant but not flashy. At $33,865 base and $46,045 as tested, it’s a heck of a deal.

EPA estimated MPG: 21 city, 30 highway.

First glance: High-end cabin atop functional machinery

I loved the ES350 from the minute I closed the door, and I mean that quite literally. The leather that lines the inner door handles (link goes to picture) is backed with some sort of foam; when you grab on to close the door, your fingers sink right in. It’s a pleasant, oozy sort of feeling.

I love when automakers sweat the details like this. You’ll find lots of cars with comfortable seats and smooth, quiet rides — but how many cars have doors that feel good to close?

The ES has a unique position in the Lexus lineup. It’s not sporty like the GS or IS. or big and stately like the LS. Calling it the entry-level Lexus doesn’t do it justice, though.

I’ve come to think of it as the pragmatic Lexus: Top-shelf comfort and amenities mated to ordinary mechanicals. The new-for-2007 ES350 is based on the new-for-2007 Toyota Camry. Lexus spent years trying to shake the ES’ reputation as a glorified Camry — but what’s wrong with basing a luxury sedan on one of the best mid-size sedans built?

The ES350’s level of style and comfort puts it in an entirely different league than even the most expensive version of its Toyota-branded cousin. Sharing mechanical bits simply lowers the cost without the need to skimp on amenities.

In the Driver’s Seat: Looks good outside and in

Wood trim on console and door panels is standard, but wood steering wheel and leather seats are optional

Photo #169; Lexus

The outgoing ES330 (review) was no ugly duckling, but it looks frumpy compared to the smooth lines of the new ES350. Traditional safe colors like white, silver and black don’t do the car justice. Lexus offers subtle shades of red, blue, green and beige that bring out the car’s beauty and will still look good in 10 years.

My tester, finished in Golden Almost Metallic, drew lots of admiring stares, many from me.

The ES350’s mission in life is to coddle its occupants. The experience starts before you put the key in the door. Actually, you don’t have to put the key in the door, because the ES comes standard with a Smart Access proximity key, which stays in your pocket or purse. The ES senses your approach (actually, the key’s approach) and greets you by turning on puddle lamps concealed under the side mirrors.

Touch the door handle and the doors unlock. Once inside, step on the brake and push the on/off button and the engine starts.

Other standard equipment includes power-adjustable front seats and steering column, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, 6-disc CD/MP3 changer, power moonroof, and lots of safety gear. Leather seats aren’t standard, a notable omission, but it’s still a great deal for under $34k.

On the Road: Better living through technology

Lexus ES350

The ES’ name change denotes an increase in the size of the V6 engine from 3.3 to 3.5 liters. With 272 horsepower and 254 ft-lbs of torque, the new engine has more than enough power for short freeway onramps and passing on a two-lane road. A six-speed automatic drives the front wheels. I averaged 22.4 MPG, a good figure that’s on par with most mid-size cars I test. The ride is exceptionally quiet, comfortable and serene, but not isolated — I always felt in control.

Build quality? I’ve seen boulders that felt less solid.

Visibility is good, though the swoopy shape can make parking difficult; a $500 parking assist system puts that to right. My favorite option: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. When activated. it automatically slows the car down to maintain a safe distance from the car in front.

I felt reassured by the ES350’s standard electronic stability control, which helps the driver keep control in a sudden swerve. Antilock brakes, front-seat-mounted side airbags, and side curtain airbags are also standard. The rear seats have shoulder belts and LATCH child-seat anchors at all three positions, with seat-mounted torso airbags as options — smart move, since they can pose a danger to children in non-compatible car seats.

Journey’s End: Loaded with options, it’s still a great value

ES350 from the rear. this time in Blue Onyx Pearl

The optional 14-speaker Mark Levinson stereo included a GPS-linked navigation system, 6-disc changer that reads audio DVDs, and even a cassette deck. In addition, the navigation system’s screen doubles as a backup camera. Two features help drivers keep their eyes on the road: Voice activation, which allows you to program the nav system by speaking, and Bluetooth-compatibility which allows the stereo to act like a giant hands-free set for your cell phone.

With every option box ticked, my ES350 stickered for just over $46,000 — $4500 less than a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. As with the base model, the fully-loaded ES350 is a great deal — especially considering how well Lexus cars hold their value. If you’re looking for high-end luxury and don’t need to beat BMWs around the racetrack, the 2007 ES350 is a car you should definitely consider. — Aaron Gold

Lexus ES350
Lexus ES350
Lexus ES350
Lexus ES350
Lexus ES350
Lexus ES350
Lexus ES350
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