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2015/2016 Lexus ES 350 Review By Larry Nutson +VIDEO

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2015/2016 Lexus ES 350

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

To paraphrase PT Barnum; You can’t please all of the people all of the time. But, you can please some of the people some of the time.

To look at this with a slightly different twist, Lexus has a two-sedan strategy in its entry-luxury offerings intended to satisfy different buyers. The ES model is about luxury and comfort in a front wheel drive sedan. The IS model handles the sport/luxury side of things with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and available FSPORT performance.

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I’ve had the opportunity to drive both of these Lexus sedans in recent weeks. And, with both the ES and the IS some good long interstate and back road road-tripping was involved. My most recent drive in the 2015 Lexus ES 350 had me traveling east from Chicago and back over a weekend that would entail about 600 miles of interstate driving. And then, at the tail end of that same weekend an added trip to the north that totaled about 180 miles round trip.

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On my trip eastward I had my wife and Gen-Y daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law along for the ride. The 5-passenger ES 350 has lots of legroom and we four found ourselves quite comfortable. My wife is usually quick to complain about an uncomfortable front passenger seat. Not with the ES 350. This time she quickly voiced a compliment at how comfortable she found the seat during our four-hour drive.

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The 10-way power driver’s and passenger’s front seats, including power lumbar, really help to get you in the right position for a long drive and allows for little tweaks in seating position to relieve any muscle aches.

The younger ones in the back seat had plenty of room too. And my daughter was quick to pair her smart phone to the ES so we could enjoy her personal play list. The power opening and closing trunk with its 15.2 cuft of space easily handled the luggage of four persons along with the various and sundry parcels we had along.

Powering the ES 350 is a 268 HP 3.5-L four-cam 24-valve V6 driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic. There’s no all-wheel drive option on the ES350. That’s been left by Lexus to the IS model. The 268 HP and the plentiful engine torque did a very admirable job of quickly accelerating our somewhat heavily loaded ES 350 on to the highway.

Lexus says the ES 350 will do zero to sixty in 7.1 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph.

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A good road trip, in my view, is short on stops and also as short as possible in time to reach the destination. Helping to reduce the stopped time is of course low fuel consumption and high driving range. The EPA-test fuel economy rating for the ES 350 is 24 mpg combined, or 4.2 gallons per 100 miles, with 21 city mpg and 31 highway mpg.

On my all-highway cruising weekend, we averaged around 29 to 30 mpg. That’s pretty close to the EPA-test highway rating of 31 mpg, especially considering my spirited driving style. The 17.2 gallon tank made for around 500 miles of cruising between gasoline fill-ups.

Ride quality is highly comfortable with good precise steering and good manners in twists and turns. The ES is not a sport sedan but is vey good at doing what it is intended to do. Over the road wind and tire noise is low making for enjoyable conversation or music listening.

The 2015 ES 350 is priced at $37,550. Options fitted on my media-loan car included Blind Spot Monitor with rear cross traffic alert ($500), HID headlamps ($565), a power rear sunshade ($210), the Luxury Package ($1,795) that includes leather trimmed interior, heated and cooled front seats, wood interior trim, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, memory function for seats, mirrors and steering wheel, and remote keyless entry. Also equipped were the one-touch power trunk ($400), intuitive park assist ($500), and a wood and leather steering wheel ($330). The MSRP topped out $44,145.

The ES also is available as a hybrid. The 2015 ES 300h is priced at $40,580. The hybrid’s big advantage in reduced fuel consumption is mostly in city driving, but there is also highway improvement. You’ll have to do the math and figure out if the added $3,030 in cost will give you the return in overall gasoline cost savings over the lifetime you own the vehicle.

Lexus has freshened the ES 350 for 2016. There’s a bolder look to the spindle grille, new standard LED headlights, and a new front fascia with fog lights pushed out to the corners. In the rear there’s new L-themed taillights and chrome-tipped rectangular exhaust ports in a restyled rear fascia. Four new colors are available and new design optional 17-inch alloys.

The 2016 Lexus ES adopts the optional Lexus Safety System plus package that bundles a pre-collision system, lane-departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam and high-speed dynamic radar cruise control. Interior changes include revised wood and piano black wood finishes. A Mark Levinson Premium Sound system and panoramic roof are now available with all the option packages.

Prices for the 2016 ES bump up a little with the ES 350 now at $38,000 and the ES 300h at $40,900.

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More information and full technical details and specifications on the Lexus ES 350 are available at To compare the ES 350 to other entry luxury sedans you can do that right here on

I mentioned the Lexus IS at the beginning of my review, if you want read my thoughts and experience with that model you can do that right here with one mouse-click. Nutson's 2015 Lexus IS250 Review

It would be great if we could have an entire garage of vehicles to choose from depending on the driving task at hand. If we could I would put the Lexus ES 350 very high on the list as the car to have for a long interstate road trip. Yes there are other choices out there that also would do the job very well. I found the Lexus ES 350 quite comfortable, offering reasonably low fuel consumption and at the end of my long day of driving it did not leave me fatigued.

2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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