You could make a good argument that the midsize luxury sedan segment has never been more competitive. Automakers from Europe, Asia and North America have all produced solid, if not great, vehicles to do battle in this competitive arena.
Case in point is the 2015 Lexus ES 350. It has added some technological advances that aim to give it an edge against its formidable competition. And while its design remains rather conservative, it’s hard to deny that its overall styling and numerous amenities make it a solid entrant in the segment.
The ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 268 horsepower and is also found in other vehicles from Lexus and Toyota. The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive. Gas mileage is estimated at 21 mpg city, 31 highway. This engine is quite solid, and while it might not win you a whole lot of races against more performance-oriented vehicles, it certainly is more than adequate to handle the rigors of everyday driving.
There are a number of standard safety features on the ES 350, including rearview camera, electronic stability system and eight airbags. Optional safety features include forward pre-collision system, lane departure warning and park assist sensors.
On the outside, you won’t find a series of dramatic, sweeping lines defining the body styling of the ES 350. It is mainly composed of more gently sloping lines and smooth edges. Some might say that styling is boring, but in a counterintuitive kind of way, it’s actually a bit refreshing. So many sedans today have taken on the bolder, sportier styling approaches that it’s kind of refreshing to see one that remains rather understated. A power moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and daytime LED running lights are standard, with 18-inch wheels optional.
The technology upgrades on the ES 350 are highlighted by the addition of the Lexus Enform Remote system. The system is now very easy to control with the mouse-like knob on the center console. It lets you operate the many infotainment options, and the collection of apps now includes such choices as iHeartRadio and Slacker. Additionally Enform Remote lets you operate many of the car’s features directly from your smart phone. For convenience and safety, you can turn on the engine, be notified where the car is parked, check how much gasoline you have and lock and unlock the car.
Now for some, this might be cause for concern. Recent reports in the news have suggested that the next “big thing” we have to worry about is the hacking of such systems on automobiles and the havoc that could be wrought. At this time, it’s not a huge concern, but be aware that automakers will likely be trying to devise safeguards against this.
Meanwhile, other standard features such as simulated leather seats, a seven-inch touchscreen, HD radio and USB port make the interior of the ES 350 comfortable and convenient. Genuine leather upholstery and heated seats are optional.
The ES 350 starts at around $38,000 and tops out at a little more than $43,000. For a nicely equipped, pleasant-to-drive sedan with more than a few luxury features, that’s not a bad deal.