Does this car look familiar to you?
Maybe it’s because I’ve reviewed a nearly-identical vehicle previously. Not a lot has changed. It remains a great vehicle that keeps all the promises it makes. Are you shopping for a luxurious car that could even be considered a good value, with enough tech and comfort to go a long way, and what is likely to be one of the most reliable and resale-friendly vehicles you’ll ever own?
Well, by all means then, read on.
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The ES exterior continues on unchanged. Clean, continuous lines flow from front to back. The signature Lexus spindle grille surrounded by Nike-swoosh LED driving lights make up the face, but otherwise there is little to draw the eye in. It’s a pretty boring car to look at, to be honest. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing exciting about it. It looks composed and well put together. But you probably won’t look back at it. Especially in the Nebula Grey Pearl colour mine came in.
A welcoming, relaxing and comfortable environment awaits you inside. The dash is made up of soft-touch materials, the sculpted NuLuxe (read: not leather) seats are comfortable, heated, cooled and power-adjustable. The steering wheel is finely crafted out of wood and leather. There are real wood accents throughout the cabin. It’s a nice and spacious place to be.
Audio and vehicle settings are handled by a rotary joystick knob replacing the (much-hated-by-me) mouse-like controller you’ll find in higher trim levels. The screen is sharp and the interface is decent, and the stereo sounds lovely. And yes, there’s a rear-view camera.
You know what else the cabin is? It’s quiet. Freakishly quiet. As we’ve come to expect from Lexus products, engine, wind and road noise are kept to an absolute minimum. The only exception is the slight roar you’ll hear from the engine bay, when you tromp on it.
Rear passengers don’t get ripped off either. They’ve got plenty of room for their legs and hair-dos, and very comfortable seats (at least the two outboard ones).
There are no surprises under the hood. Lexus/Toyota sticks with things for quite a while, and the 3.5-litre V6 is still going strong here. And there’s nothing wrong with it. It has enough power (268 hp and 248 lb.ft of torque) to motivate this 3549 pound (1610 kg) sedan. It’s relatively efficient, rated at 9.9 L/100 km (24 US mpg) in the city and 6.4 L/100 km (37 US mpg) on the highway. By the way, I averaged 10.4 L/100 km (23 US mpg) which is just fine by me.
The engine does well, feeding the front wheels with a 6-speed automatic spoon. It’s surprisingly sprightly off the line, and the power delivery is very linear. Driven normally, it’s relaxed and suits the car’s character. As does the ride quality, which is simply outstanding. Lexus sedans have long bothered me with their numb, dead steering feel and the ES is no exception. While it drives me a bit batty because it clashes with my personal preference, it’s not a fault of the car’s. This car never portends to hit you over the head with its sportiness. True to form, the handling is a bit squishy and it leans into corners a a tad, but overall, it’s a very competent vehicle. If you’re commuting and going on the occasional road trip with car, you’d be hard-pressed to find fault with the ES.
For a base version, the 2015 ES comes very well equipped. Little touches like universal garage door openers and the power-adjustable steering wheel, and things like the well-appointed interior make it seem like a bargain. If it’s sportiness you’re after, you’re looking at the wrong car here. You’re not going to get the most rewarding driving experience with an ES, but if you’re looking for an elegant, luxurious sedan that’s highly comfortable day in and day out, you can’t go wrong with the ES 350. Add in the cachet of the Lexus brand and what promises to be epic reliability, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this refined sedan.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was high. She said it looks nice, but not expensive, and she felt it drove very comfortably. She also found everything inside easy to access and use.
Do you need the upgraded Mark Levinson sound system? The real leather on the seats? The driver assistance techonology? It’s all available in option packages for the ES, as is an excellent hybrid drivetrain. But in my opinion, the base model is done up so well that those upgrades are unnecessary when it comes to enjoying the vehicle for what it is. I liked the “base” car just the way it was.
Pricing: 2015 Lexus ES 350
Base price: $41,500
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $43,595
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Lexus Canada.
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