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2013 Lexus ES 350 Review By Michael Bernstein

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2013 Lexus ES350

By Michael Bernstein
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Pursuit Of Perfection Is On-Track With Lexus ES 350

Toyota created Lexus to compete at the highest levels of both performance and luxury and it was a winner, earning the number 1 position in luxury vehicle sales…then the tsunami hit Japan.

Now the Lexus brand is back, and the 2013 ES 350 is the latest product that will help invigorate the brand, restore lost sales and attract new customers because of its balance of features; performance; and refinements that will be difficult for competitors to duplicate, much less replicate.

The sporty silhouette and visual compactness of the ES350 did not get in the way of driving enjoyment or the many creature comforts and luxury appointments this rather sporty sedan offers its owner, driver and passengers alike.

Despite, or maybe because of, its slick compact design, the ES350 projects a sporty look with surprising traits and design characteristics that I liked. The body panels blend seamlessly to create quite an attractive car. LED lighting, unique use of chrome trim and Lexus’ new signature front end with its trademark grill highlight the vehicle’s exterior styling and appearance features.

The interior trim, features real wood, composite plastics and fine leather and greets its occupants with a pleasing combination of these rich materials and polished finishes, that is combined with contemporary styling to create an upscale feel that far exceeds the perceived bar for a vehicle in this segment.

The raised white stitching on the dash is continued throughout the cockpit and extends to the door panels and the comfortable seats continue the trend of upping the ante and enhancing the ownership and driving experience. Leather wraps and accents adorn the steering wheel and gear shift. The “Full Monty” leather treatment is reserved for the door panels, arm rest and seats.

Speaking of seats the ES 350 features Lexus’ “NuLuxe” seating that comes with 10-way power control for both front seats and has a perforated appearance that is extended to the rear seats as well. The seats are comfortable and positioned to maximize the driver’s view of the road and surroundings.

The ES350 has a surprisingly roomy interior cabin with both the driver and front seat passenger afforded an incredible amount of head and shoulder room. Additionally, entering and exiting the vehicle was also a breeze due to the low door threshold.

Children, pets and smaller adults in the back seat will be in heaven, but for the larger among us, the back seat is a bit tight, especially if the front seat passengers have their seats all the way back.

The driving experience has become more important to buyers in this segment and the 2013 ES 350 once again provides this refinement in a straight forward manner that is simple to understand, easy to operate and a joy to experience on the road.

The dash’s main IP is a perfectly sized recessed video monitor that displays multiple features on a split screen. This allows for the navigation system’s map to be displayed alongside the radio control or climate control readings. More importantly the large screen can be changed at a push of the button; well actually it’s a mouse click type control knob that comes with its own leather wrapped wrist rest that is used to easily control the system and its many functions. The dash is intergraded into the overall design and is coordinated in perfect harmony with the other displays, lighting and fabrics that grace the interior.

However it is on the road where the real fun begins because the 2013 ES 350 can bring it. Lexus has put together a tight little package under the hood that includes a 3.5L, 288HP, Four Cam, 24-valve V6 engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission and added a 4-wheel independent MacPherson strut-type suspension with gas pressurized shock absorbers. Front and rear stabilizing bars complete the major underbody and suspension components that create what can only be described as an accelerating driving experience, but not at the expense of fuel economy.

The ES350 earned a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 24mpg. This figure factors the ES 350’s 21mpg EPA rating for city and the impressive 31mpg it received on the highway and combines them, divides them and then creates the latest fuel economy bit of information.

It was on the freeway where the ES 350 confirmed that its road abilities and capabilities far exceed practical and legal limits. I don’t know its 0-60 time and I don’t care, but I can tell you that moving from 60-100mph was not much trouble; not very noticeable; and certainly not expected but welcomed luxury compact sport sedan that has an MSRP of $36,100. The 2013 ES 350 I tested had a sticker price of $43,105.