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2012 Lexus ES

Overview
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2012 Lexus ES Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.2

2012 marks the final model year of the Lexus ES 350 before a planned revamp in 2013. While it is getting a little long in the tooth, the ES 350 is still a worthy competitor to luxury sedans such as the Acura TL, Audi A6, Infiniti G37 and Lincoln MKZ. Built on a platform shared with the Toyota Camry, the Lexus ES 350 is a front-wheel-drive sedan that is more focused on cruising comfort than burning up back roads. To that end, its cockpit is plush and its ride is marshmallow-soft. And then there is Lexus' luxury pedigree and reliability, both among the best in the business.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're shopping for a comfortable, spacious, dependable luxury sedan that won't break the bank, the 2012 ES 350 is a solid choice. It's a vehicle that speaks of its owner's tastefulness yet still manages to be relatively modest. Its engine, for example, runs on regular 87-octane gasoline while delivering a fuel economy rating of up to 28 mpg.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're a driver who wants more performance pop in a luxury sedan, you may want to consider alternatives such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Cadillac CTS or Infiniti G37. Unlike the ES 350, those cars feature rear- or all-wheel-drive and have more sport-oriented suspensions, not to mention added visual pizzazz.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Lexus ES 350 is mostly unchanged from 2011, in which differences were also minimal after a facelift the year before. For 2012, the ES receives a new exterior color option, Nebula Gray Pearl, and is available in a Touring Edition that is limited to 2,000 cars and features a saddle-leather interior and high-gloss 17-inch wheels.

Driving the ES

Driving Impressions The Lexus ES 350 puts its emphasis on comfort. If blissful highway cruising and quiet drives in the city are paramount to you, this sedan delivers. In low-speed situations, steering...

feel is light, making parking a snap. The ES 350's V6/6-speed automatic transmission combination is strong, offering good acceleration and supple shifts in both regular and sport modes. The Lexus ES 350 has a stated 0-60 mph time of seven seconds flat, which is swift but not sports-sedan quick. The Lexus' suspension soaks up bumps well and its brakes are strong.

Mark Levinson Audio System
If you appreciate audio quality, the 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system sounds very good. Available only on the Navigation System/Mark Levinson package, the option is not cheap, but if you're an audiophile or a commuter who spends countless hours in the car, it makes time behind the wheel much more gratifying.

Creature Comforts
Easy-to-locate and use seat ventilation controls can warm or cool your bottom in a hurry, and the ES 350's optional wooden-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel feels great, literally, in your hands. We also like that unlike many luxury vehicles, this one can run on 87-octane gas, which can add comfort to your budget at each fill up.

2012 Lexus ES Details
Interior

Driver and passenger comfort are key up front, where the soft seats feature 10-way power adjustment. In the rear, the bench seat offers ample headroom and legroom for two adults or three children. Leather seating is standard all around, and tastefully complements the polished walnut or maple wood accents. Some aspects of the interior feel dated, such as the digital clock and steering-wheel-mounted buttons. Also on the down side of the ledger, controlling what should be simple aspects such as fan speed often requires a multi-step process using the touch screen.

Exterior

The 2012 ES 350 features pleasant - if not exciting - contoured lines. Dual stainless-steel exhaust tips and a shark-fin antenna give the ES 350 some personality, while pragmatic features such as puddle lamps mounted under the side mirrors help illuminate the ground and any pitfalls thereon. Up front, the illumination theme continues with optional high-intensity headlights and an adaptive lighting system that turns the headlights in unison with the car for better visibility around curves.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The ES 350 offers an impressive array of features inside and out, including keyless entry, push-button start/stop, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and a dual-zone climate control with a smog-sensing system that automatically switches to recirculation mode - a great feature for those who are frequently stuck in traffic. Also standard are a moonroof, HomeLink universal transmitter and an 8-speaker sound system with an in-dash 6-disc changer and Bluetooth audio streaming. On the safety front, the Lexus ES features 10 airbags.

Optional Equipment

Looking to enhance your ES 350? Consider a premium sound and nav unit that boasts a high-end Mark Levinson audio/video system and a navigation screen that can relay information such as traffic, weather, and sports and stock news. The Ultra Luxury Package ups the ante with semi-aniline leather interior with heated and ventilated front seats, panorama glass roof, power rear sunshade and a full-size spare tire. Other options that can be had as standalone features include a wood-and-leather trimmed steering wheel, pre-collision system and radar-enabled cruise control, 17-inch sport allow wheels, and a parking-assist system that uses ultrasonic sensors in the front and rear bumpers to detect distance from objects.

Under the Hood

Carried over in the 2012 ES 350 from last year's model is its 3.5-liter V6. That engine makes 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque while delivering an EPA fuel-economy rating of 19/28 mpg city/highway, the latter being one mpg better than the 2011 model. The V6 is mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission that features a sport mode and can also be shifted manually. In addition to Lexus' 48-month/50,000-mile basic warranty, the ES 350's powertrain is backed for six years or 70,000 miles, whichever comes first.

3.5-liter V6
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28

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2012 Lexus ES Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 192 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.0/10
    Quality
    9.1/10
  • Reliability
    9.3/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    9.2/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Most comfortable car I have ever owned

By on Sunday, July 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Comfortable and reliable and fun to drive"

Cons: "Could use larger cup holders"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Still looks great after 3 years

"I have been driving Toyotas since I was twenty years old and let's just say I have had several in a range of models. Never a complaint or problem. I stepped up to the Lexus and my only regret is that I am totally hooked! This car is so comfortable and easy to drive. The engine has a lot of pep which is very important to me and it handles well. Nothing stiff about the ride but still a sporty feel to it. I haven't had any problems, mechanical or otherwise. I traded in my 4Runner for this car and I have enjoyed every minute of driving it but I miss the convenience if the SUV. Don't get me wrong, there is a spacious trunk and the back seat is comfortable and roomy. I just felt more confident when I was sitting higher and could see more of my surroundings and when I need room for the occasional larger purchase. So my next purchase will likely be the mid size GX460. It would be nice if I could keep the ES and have the GX because I am not anxious to get rid of this one. I am totally hooked on Lexus!"

Still looks great after 3 years

Rides like riding on a cloud

By on Saturday, June 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Reliabilty outstanding"

Cons: "None"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Over 90,000 miles and the first fault; the pipe for the hydraulic steering fluid is corroded and leaking. It rides better than our 2010 RX 350. The reliability is outstanding and the upgraded leather and wood interior is very impressive."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Wonderful car!

By on Friday, June 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great steering; great comfort; good gas mileage."

Cons: "None"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This Lexus is reliable, comfortable, easy to drive and maneuver. It is the best car I have ever owned."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Almost a 10

By on Friday, June 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"My third ES. Great car, mileage, handling,comfort, looks all a 10. Only complaint is the lite beige leather gets dirty and shows wear easily, and is impossible to clean, especially on the drivers seat. Very responsive, fun to drive!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

disappointing

By on Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,500

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "my wife likes it."

Cons: "high cost of maintenance at Lexus dealerships."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"When it came time to replace her Avalon, my wife decided that she wanted an ES350. My impression of the car was/is that it is an over priced, dressed up, Camry. I thought at that time, and continue to believe that the Toyota Avalon was, in every way, a more luxurious car and...much less expensive to own, and maintain! But, bless her pea-pickin' lil ol' heart, wanted a Lexus. So, she's been driving this car for almost 4 years now and, she seems satisfied with it. However, because I know she'll never read this review let me offer my honest opinion: if the engineers at Lexus were attempting to design a car for grandma, they hit it out of the park! If you never drive faster than 40 mph, this is the car for you! Aesthetically, I find the car to be boring. As far comfort, I find myself nearly crippled after making the 700 mile drive to our daughters home in N.Y.. AS far as performance the car does have pep. However, because of its lack of response to the road, I would advise against trying to maneuver in traffic at higher speeds. As I stated previously, it's her car, and she's happy with it. In the end I guess that's the only thing that matters."

9 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Best Cars on the Road.....Period

By on Thursday, May 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "BEST CARS MADE........PERIOD!!!"

Cons: "None"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is my 3rd Lexus and I can say without hesitation, that they are BY FAR the best made cars on earth. They NEVER have any mechanical issues and only need routine maitainence, like tires, brakes, oil, etc. And an oilchange is $20....like any other normal car. I have friends that have owned Mercedes & BMW's and those things are horrible. They spend more time in the shop than Joan Rivers! They might look nice, but they're just not made very well. No such issues with Lexus. I traded in my last one at 165,000 miles and it still ran perfectly. The only thing I ever had to do to it was a tune-up at 145,000 miles....only because one spark plug went bad."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

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