2018 Lexus ES 350 Test Drive

“2018 Lexus ES350 4-Door Sedan”
Think of it as a Lexus Luxury Starter Kit
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The Lexus ES 350 leads off the company’s family of Luxury sedans as the entry level model and adds a new Premier Package, which provides a wide array of features including heated and ventilated seats, driver seat memory, leather-trimmed steering wheel with power tilt/telescopic and memory, Park Assist and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

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Additionally for the 2018 model year, Enform Safety Connect and Enform Service Connect now become complimentary for the first 10 years of ownership. Both were previously offered with a one-year trial period.
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Also new for the 2018 model year are the following: an optional Premier Package; Enform Safety Connect Complimentary for First 10 Years of Ownership; Enform Service Connect Complimentary for First 10 Years of Ownership; a Noble Brown Interior with Linear Dark Mocha Wood Trim is available; front suspension now employs opposite-wound coil springs; high body rigidity achieved through lightweight, high tensile strength steel; airflow is smoothed beneath the vehicle; standard 215/55R17 low-rolling resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels; 18-inch alloy wheels available. There are several other enhancements available within the various option packages.
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The ES 350 focuses on a position of flagship-type luxury and comfort, leaving the performance accolades to other Lexus models such as the IS models. The ES 350, with front-wheel drive traction, along with 40 inches of rear seat legroom — while the sporty IS models put more emphasis on sporty driving performance. Two different models, with two sets of priorities and no compromises for either in their respective roles.
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The ES 350 draws its motive force from a standard 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve V6 engine, with dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and electronically controlled sequential fuel injection that runs on regular-grade gasoline, driving the front wheels on regular-grade gas, driving the front wheels through a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence and sequential shift. The engine makes 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, while developing 248 pound feet of torque at 4,700 rpm.

The Lexus ES, in its fifth year and following the addition of a new and more aggressive front end a couple of years ago, now displays a basically sedate silhouette, but the front fascia with its “spindle” grille and bold chrome surround seems like an add-on from a more high-end vehicle. The hourglass shaped grille is wide at the top and bottom and pinched toward the center in the middle. The singular styling change for 2018 is the deletion of the dark metallic paint finish inside the headlight surrounds on bi-xenon lamp fitted vehicles. All of the ES 350’s metallic, pearl and mica exterior paint finishes utilize self-healing clear coat technology at no extra cost.
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Moving into the cabin, the wide, horizontal dash’s contours and curves of the give the ES a feeling of spaciousness, and the high-mount hooded navigation system and the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel serve up an elegant yet practical aura.
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Available interior trims include Espresso Bird’s Eye Maple, a matte finish Bamboo, and a new Noble Brown interior paired with Linear Dark Mocha wood trim accents. Premier, Luxury and Ultra Luxury Packages provide a tiered approach to adding optional amenities. Luxury packages add wood trim on the center console and cup holder area and an embossed stitching pattern on the seats. The optional Panoramic Roof is available with all packages (included in Ultra Luxury).

The standard equipment list is generous with features such as 10-way adjustable power front seats; automatic climate control; NuLuxe perforated upholstery with glossy Piano Black trim elements; a power tilt-and-slide moonroof; power-adjustable outside mirrors with turn signals and defoggers; remote-linked power windows and moonroof opening, as well as Lexus Personalized Settings to customize select electronic functions.

The Lexus ES350 is no stranger to advanced safety technologies. The purpose of Lexus Safety System+ is to aid the driver in collision avoidance, or to mitigate their damaging impacts. Included is: High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which works at speeds in excess of 25 mph. Tracking the speed of the vehicle traveling ahead, it and can adjust the speed setting accordingly to help maintain a preset safe distance. The Pre-Collision System is able to detect vehicles — and in certain conditions, a pedestrian by incorporating a combination of millimeter-wave radar and a front-facing camera. The system can warn the driver of a pending collision and then initiate automatic braking with Brake Assist if necessary. Lane Departure Alert, using a camera, detects visible lane markings and delivers audio-visual alerts along with vibrating the steering wheel if it senses that the driver has unintentionally deviated from the lane. Lane Departure Alert, with Steering Assist, can help the vehicle stay within its lane by smoothly increasing a small amount of steering torque.

Intelligent High Beam technology senses headlights from oncoming traffic and the taillights of the vehicle traveling in front, adjusting high- and low-beam illumination automatically.

Available with all packages, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert helps detect vehicles in side blind spots and alerts the driver to rear cross traffic when backing up in limited visibility scenarios.
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In the Information and Entertainment arena, the ES350 shines through its Display Audio system and the Lexus Enform family of information and connectivity services. The ES 350 includes the Scout® GPS Link with its standard Lexus Display Audio system, featuring an eight-inch screen and including HD Radio™, Bluetooth® audio, automatic phone book transfer, a vehicle information display and complimentary traffic and weather data provided via HD Radio. The cache radio feature allows the pausing of live broadcasts for up to 15-minutes.
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Lexus Enform Remote is complimentary for the first year of vehicle ownership, and allows the owner to remotely view and control certain aspects of the vehicle utilizing a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. Once registered, the app can operate remote door lock/unlock; remote stop/start for the engine and climate control; vehicle finder, guest driver monitor and more.

Lexus Enform Safety Connect provides access to Lexus Enform response centers 24/7/365 with a mobile connection. With Lexus Enform Service Connect, the ES 350 can alert you to specific factory-recommended maintenance and simultaneously alerting your preferred Lexus retailer.

The Addition of the optional Navigation Package delivers an array of valuable services to the ES 350 in the form of the Lexus Enform App Suite – a veritable in-car personal concierge including Lexus Enform Destination Assist. Voice-enabled apps may be used to search the Internet through Destination Search, make restaurant reservations through OpenTable®, get movie tickets via MovieTickets.com™, listen to Internet radio, (including Pandora®, iHeartRadio and Slacker), and search business reviews on Yelp®.

The eight-inch screen may be divided into up to three sections, showing different functions simultaneously. The navigation system itself provides 3D map with bird’s eye views, predictive traffic information, detour preview, ETA calculation and fuel station locations. The available second-generation Remote Touch Interface is the easiest way to access multimedia in the ES 350. The computer mouse-like controller on the center console can operate the climate control, audio system, phone, optional navigation system and more. Menus appear in the Display Audio screen. The “Back” button makes using the RTI even easier. iPhone® users have yet another control option, with Siri® Eyes Free Mode. Make calls, select songs from iTunes®, get turn-by-turn navigation through Apple maps, and much more, by simply asking Siri.

Audiophiles will enjoy the ES 350’s standard eight-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System that offers USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth® audio streaming, HD Radio™ with iTunes tagging, and an integrated SiriusXM® Satellite Radio receiver (with all-access 90-day trial subscription). A Mark Levinson®Premium Sound system is available in conjunction with any option package. Powering 15 speakers with 835-watts, and turning the car into a private concert hall. Borrowing from high-end home audio, Clari-Fi™ technology can enhance the sound of compressed digital audio such as satellite radio, mobile streaming, MP3, etc.

My test 2018 Lexus ES350 4-door sedan wore and Atomic Silver metallic exterior finish, complemented by an Ivory and Charcoal-toned interior with polished wood trim elements. The base price was set at $38,900. With the final sticker totaling $50,177 after adding all the optional features and the Delivery, Processing and Handling fee.

SUMMARY: The 2018 Lexus ES350 4-door sedan seats four adults quite comfortably, and five in a pinch. The ES350 falls in between the top level Toyota Avalon and the higher-end Lexus luxo-rides.

The ES350’s 3.5-liter V6 delivers a totally satisfactory level of acceleration along with a reasonable fuel economy rating. The ride quality is smooth and comfortable, while also delivering a stable posture during a more spirited driving attitude.
Steering is responsive and reacts readily to input, but keep in mind that this is a car whose intent is on luxurious transportation rather than on sporty performance.
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The warranty program is 48 months/50,000 miles basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles, 72 months/70,000 miles powertrain and restraint system coverage and 72 months corrosion perforation protection coverage, regardless of mileage.

All in all, the 2018 Lexus ES350 is an admirable form of luxury transportation intended to deliver several year of equally admirable service.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 / Lexus ES350 4-door Sedan

Base Price: $38,900.
Price as Tested: $50,177.

Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter, DOHC, 24-valve V-6 with dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and electronically controlled sequential fuel injection.

Horsepower (bhp): 268 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 248 @ 4,700 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed electronically controlled automatic with intelligence and sequential shift.

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive.

Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut type
Rear – Dual-link Independent MacPherson strut type

Brakes: Power assisted four-wheel disc brakes (vented front) with ABS, EBD, BA, Traction Control and VSC.

Tires: Michelin Primacy MXM4 225/45 R18 mounted on 5-“W”-spoke silver painted (split 10-spoke) alloy wheels.

Wheelbase: 111.0 inches
Length Overall: 193.3 inches
Width: 71.7 inches
Height: 57.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,571 lbs.
Turning Circle: 18.7 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 17.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 21 mpg city / 30-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.27
0 – 60 mph: 7.1 seconds – Top Track Speed130 mph electronically limited.

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

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