KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 5/26/2011
Though now somewhat long in the tooth, the 2011 Lexus ES 350 still effectively competes with the likes of the Audi A6, Acura TL and Infiniti G37. Because the ES 350 continues to share its basic underpinnings with the front-wheel-drive Toyota Camry, it isn't exactly the ideal back-road dance partner, but it isn't pretending to be, either. The distinct lack of sporting character is more than made up for with a cocoon-like cockpit and a velvety-smooth ride, along with one of the highest luxury pedigrees in the business.
You'll Like This Car If...
The ES 350 does well to prove that you don't necessarily have to sell the house and kids to have a sophisticated driving experience. The sedan comes complete with innovative design features, impressive build quality and well-proven Lexus dependability without breaking the bank.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Many buyers are looking for a vehicle that boasts not only smooth refinements, but also a performance-oriented driving experience. Because these traits are usually viewed in conjunction with rear- or all-wheel drive, these buyers may want to consider alternatives such as the BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Audi A6, Infiniti G37 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
What's Significant About This Car?
Enhancements for 2011 are minimal at best, as the ES 350 received a fresh facelift for 2010. Recent augmentations include new side mirrors with integrated turn signals, revisions to the front and rear ends, more center console storage, new 17-inch wheel options and a stability control cut-off switch. Notable 2010 updates were rain-sensing wipers, the Lexus navigation system with Lexus Enform Voice Command and the Premium Sound system gained a USB port, Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming music capability.
Across town or across country, the ES 350 is as luxurious as it is comfortable. Backed with enough power and agility to maneuver out of most unforeseen traffic challenges, the ES 350 is a perfect highway cruiser. Superlative descriptions for smoothness, quiet and comfort are perfectly appropriate for the ES 350. The stability control system, anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution make their contributions to keeping things under control and helping to prevent an accident before it happens.
SmartAccess Keyless Remote Entry/Starting
No more fishing for keys in pocket or purse as the SmartAccess system allows the driver to lock and unlock the ES 350's doors and start and stop the engine with a simple push of a button.
Optional Heated and Ventilated Front Seats
Leather-wrapped 10-way power seats help keep the ES 350's front-seat occupants warm in the winter and cool in the summer. During the frosty winter season these seats help keep driver and passenger toasty by providing three levels of warming, and there are three stages of cooling to beat the heat in summer months.
Refinements to the interior of the 2011 ES 350 include 10-way power seats up front. Although the ES 350 may not be the first thought when purchasing a family vehicle, the 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat leaves more than enough head and legroom to accommodate two average adults or three children. The ES comes standard with leather-trimmed seating, which matches nicely with the real walnut or maple accents. The control and switchgear layouts are ergonomic and easy to use, though the white-on-black electroluminescent main gauges are better seen in bright sunlight than the center stack display.
From top to bottom the 2011 ES 350 embraces the division's L-Finesse standard. From a bird's-eye view, the ES 350 shows a tapered front end, moonroof and shark fin antenna. From the bottom up, the ES 350 has signature low-grille positioning, projector headlights and wrap-around taillights. The ES350 sits on 17-inch wheels with a split five-spoke design, and its flanks are adorned with chrome-finished body-side molding. Seamless-tip dual-exhaust outlets finish off the rear. Drivers can also choose between 215/55 all-season or performance summer tires.
Notable Standard Equipment
The ES 350 comes standard with numerous quality features both inside and out. Some notable enhancements include SmartAccess keyless entry with push-button starting, 10-way power front seats with power lumbar support, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel and a power moonroof. The audio in the ES 350 has eight speakers, an in-dash six-disc CD-changer, MP3/iPod capability, Bluetooth, a USB port and speed-compensating volume control. For the driver focused on safety, the ES 350 is fitted with front, front-side, rear-side, side-curtain, driver and passenger knee airbags. Other vehicle dynamic assists include stability and traction control plus enhanced four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.
Notable Optional Equipment
The 2011 Lexus ES 350 can be easily personalized by selecting option packages or adding stand-alone features. Packages include auto-dimming exterior mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, HID headlamps and a Panorama glass roof. Stand-alone extras include navigation, Surround Sound, distance-sensing dynamic radar cruise control and a pre-collision system. The Ultra Luxury Package includes Liquid Graphite 10-spoke wheels, semi-aniline leather, adaptive lighting, the heated and ventilated front seats, the Panorama roof, a power rear sunshade, HID headlamps and other items.
Under the Hood
Under its hood, the ES 350 has an all-aluminum 3.5-liter V6 that turns out 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque while delivering an EPA fuel-economy rating of 19/27 mpg City/Highway. The ES also comes fitted with continuously variable valve timing that helps optimize its low and mid-range response. Backed by a computer-controlled six-speed automatic transmission, this free-revving engine helps the Lexus go from zero to 60 miles per hour in seven seconds and through the quarter-mile in 15.2 seconds. To sweeten the deal, the well-proven reliability of this potent powertrain is reinforced by a supplemental six-year/70,000-mile warranty.
268 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27
Sticker price on the ES 350 is significantly lower than that of its European competitors, with the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just under $37,000. Fully loaded, with the Ultra Luxury Package, Mark Levinson premium audio, pre-collision and dynamic radar cruise control system and wheel upgrade, it will be closer to the $46,000 mark, closing in on the price gap between the ES 350 and its competition. These numbers rank fairly close to that of its mid-size American and Japanese rivals, including the Acura TL, Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G37 and Lincoln MKZ. Nevertheless, the ES 350 proves to be worth the dollar amount in the long run as it not only boasts reliability, but also tends to retain higher-than-average resale value.