Kuyper: Lexus elects to continue ES attributes into another year

​The ES comes in two versions, a 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V-6 called the ES 350 and a 2.5-liter, dual-overhead cam, 200-horsepower, four-cylinder gasoline-electric hybrid named the ES 300h.
​The ES comes in two versions, a 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V-6 called the ES 350 and a 2.5-liter, dual-overhead cam, 200-horsepower, four-cylinder gasoline-electric hybrid named the ES 300h.

​Sometimes, it is nice if a car is left alone for a year. Such is the case with the Lexus ES 350. The 2018 model is a replica of the 2017 edition. This means styling, measurements and prices should be the same. Relax. They are. If the ES 350 cost $38,900 in 2017, it will cost $38,900 this year.

There are minor differences with options. For example, power leather front seats are heated and ventilated, too.

Lexus hit a sweet spot with the ES 350 sedan. The ES 350 is not quite as big or powerful as a full-size sedan, but it is close.

That means the 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V-6 engine can hustle down the road and not be outdone by every turbocharged V-6 competitor in either the mid- or full-size sedan class. Perhaps more important is economy, as the ES operates on regular, not premium, fuel. The ES weighs much less than full-size sedans and could be, at 3,571 pounds, the lightest in its mid-size class, which bodes well for fuel economy.

The engine is mated to a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Accelerating from zero to 60 mph can be done in 7.1 seconds. That is factory time. Manufacturers do not want to be charged with false advertising, so they do not go overboard with zero to 60 mph claims. Members of the automotive media have done zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds.

The Environmental Protection Agency rates the ES 350 at 21 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined. The average was 26.2 mpg during the recent test week. The car can be driven in normal, eco or sport modes. Eco was the preferred mode during testing in mostly suburban driving with two or more persons aboard.

The length of amenities is long, but a list of power features suggests luxuries aboard. There are four one-touch, up-down express windows, a one-touch open and close tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, heated exterior mirrors, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, door locks and front seats. Memory for three covers steering wheel, exterior mirrors and driver’s seat.

Standard features are keyless entry; dashboard pushbutton start; and eight-speaker sound system for radio (AM, FM, satellite), Bluetooth, compact disc and MP3 players; USB port and auxiliary inputs. An upgrade navigation system is a $1,495 option and is capable of, for example, pointing out gas prices, brand, distance and grade. After a selection has been made, the nav will direct the driver to the station. Apps for a smartphone will alert owners to service and maintenance issues.

An icon shows the pressure in the four tires on an information screen behind the steering wheel.

The ES 350, with its 11.6-inch ventilated brakes in front and 11-inch solid discs in the rear, can come to a stop from 60 mph in an automotive media-tested distance of 129 feet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the sedan a top rating of five stars when it comes to side and front collisions.

Leg room front and rear is virtually identical at 41.9 and 40 inches respectively. The ES rear seat leg room beats most full-sized sedans and sets the standard for its midsize sedan class. Leather, and lots of it, is the major trim material. Brushed alloy metal trim contributes to the luxury look.

A suspension system of struts, coil springs, gas shocks and stabilizer bars keeps this car on a smooth course. Quiet pervades the cabin, which indicates good insulating factors.

The ES 350 is a handsome machine and will age well. The prediction is its profile will be as modern in 2028 as it is today.


2018 Lexus ES 350

Type: luxury four-door, five-passenger, front-wheel-drive sedan

Price: $38,900

Engine: 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V-6

Transmission: six-speed shiftable automatic

Performance: zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds (factory), 6.6 seconds (auto reporter)

Fuel tank: 17.2 gallons

Fuel: regular

Turning circle, curb-to-curb: 37.4 feet

Wheelbase, length, width, height in inches: 111, 193.3, 71.7, 57.1

Leg room: 41.9 inches front, 40 inches rear

Trunk: 15.2 cubic feet

Weight: 3,571 pounds

Suspension: struts, coil springs, gas shocks, stabilizer bars front and rear

Tires (215 all-season), wheels (10-spoke alloy, machined finish): 17-inch

Brakes: discs, 11.6 ventilated front, 11-inch solid rear

Safety: 10 air bags, antilock brakes, traction-stability controls, five seat harnesses and headrests, rain-sensing windshield wipers, radar cruise control, lane departure warning and steering assist, collision warning and mitigation system

Assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky

Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles, 6 years/70,000 miles powertrain


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