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2012 Lexus ES

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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 215 Ratings for the 2007 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.1/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    9.3/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Great Value

By on Sunday, August 30, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

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
5/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great value and mechanically very sound"

Cons: "Control screen very distracting"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Mechanically this has been a great vehicle. This is our first front wheel drive vehicle and probably our last. The audio, navigation and cooling/heating system, in order to operate you have to take your eyes off the road temporarily. Very distracting to use. We've always had luxury cars, mechanically this beats out the Mercedes but equal to the Jaguar. Performance wise it comes in third Mercedes second and Jaguar(XJ) first. Style wise the Lexus has come a long way,But,still looks like every other car out there. and poor color choices, other than different shades of black or gray."

Best Sedan

By on Saturday, August 01, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Cons: "No XM Radio"

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

"Lexus made the '09 through '12 ES too good. It was much less expensive than the LS, but was close to as luxurious in ride, comfort and appearance. When the new (2013) ES came out, some of the luxury features were reduced. (See Consumer Reports for details). I purchased the car at Carlsbad Lexus and was treated like a king there. My wife and I live in the central San Joaquin valley and when we take the car to Lexus here (Lexus of Fresno), we are treated like a king and queen, in spite of the fact that we didn't purchase the care there. My next car will be a '12 ES350."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Best Vehicle I've ever owned!

By on Sunday, May 31, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000

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: "Reliable, comfortable"

Cons: "Would've like air conditioned back seats!"

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

"Bought this car new in 2007. NEVER had to have any work done on it. Love the air conditioned seats!!!! Normally, I would've had 2 more cars by now, but refuse to part with this one. Afraid any other car would need work and be unreliable! The dealership is also wonderful, and I think that also makes a big difference!"

11 people out of 22 found this review helpful

the lexus sells itself

By on Sunday, April 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 61,000

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
10/10

Pros: "Very comfortable, quiet, and reliable"

Cons: "Expensive -- but worth it"

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

"Have owned cars of various makes and models for over 40 years. The Lexus ES 350 is the best car I've owned, without a doubt."

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

great car

By on Friday, March 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "quite ride , responsive dealer"

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

"power to spare, smooth quite ride, few minor flaws in my opinion eg. black on black interior controls hard to see at night, low front end means caution while parking against curb, premium gas required, however, would buy again. One more serious problem with "melting" dash is currently scheduled for free replacement."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

car is excellent vehiclel except navigation system

By on Saturday, February 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "great comfort...good performance"

Cons: "horrible navigation system"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"the navigation system is horrible...too complicated....not user friendly...impossible to use.....car had valve problems"

5 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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