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by Tony West and Sommer Thornton
Lexus is still killing the luxury game on nearly all fronts releasing more whips with style, class, and outstanding performance. The 2015 ES builds on its classy reputation and adds GS-like power and more safety and entertainment tech.
I’ve been an ES fan for a long time. The 2015 ES350 is lower, wider, and more athletic. Even with Lincoln’s new MKZ and Hyundai’s stuntastic Genesis hot on its heels, the ES etches out a win with affordable luxury and no-compromise powerful performance. Lexus is one of the most reliable luxury brands in the world, and they continue to add more amenities to its popular ES350. Lexus even tricked out the exterior with chrome, and the interior with stylish leather and wood.
Stylish Sporty New Exterior
The 2015 Lexus ES takes cues from the RC and the GS with its coupe-like body style. The ES350 has a 110 inch wheelbase and is 192 inches long. Its lower stance and sweeping roofline give it more sporty performance. Its coupish profile enables a low coefficient drag which helps boost fuel efficiency while minimizing wind noise. The new ES350 adds a shark fin antenna and rear decklid spoiler that aid performance. I like the new “L” shaped HID headlight design with LED daytime running lights, foglights, and tail lights.
The new ES350 retains its signature spindle grille. And 17 inch aluminum alloy wheels are standard. The new ES 350 also offers dual exhausts along with some cool new exterior colors.
The 2015 ES350 is sportier than ever, and its stiffer body enhances high speed performance. Lightweight high tensile strength steel adds rigidity and enhances ride comfort. And airflow is smooth beneath the vehicle optimizing driver control and raising the EPA.
I applaud Lexus for furthering the ES350’s design year after year. This is why the ES stays at the top of the mid-size sedan segment. Even though I enjoyed the fresh youthful rendering, I prefer the ES350 to be a little more lux sedan than sport coupe.
Sport/ Comfort Performance Similar to a GS
The 2015 ES350 boasts an all aluminum 3.5 liter DOHC V6 engine-24 valve with dual variable valve timing with intelligence. The efficient V6 has 268 horsepower (6,200 rpm) and 248 lb-ft of torque (4,700 rpm.) Electronically controlled sequential fuel injection helps the ES achieve an EPA of 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city/ 31 mph highway). That’s better than its Infiniti and Lincoln counterparts.
Start/Stop technology is perfected in the ES350, with the engine shutting off and on seamlessly. The ES350 performs better than ever, especially at high speeds. The smooth sophisticated acceleration the ES is known for has been refined with athletic aggression. The ES gets up and stays up with the Start/Stop technology kicking in to save fuel at low revs.
Electric rack and pinion steering makes fluid turns and parking flawless every time. Handling is enhanced with MacPherson strut type independent front suspension and dual-link MacPherson strut-type independent rear suspension.
A Drive mode select button will adjust throttle, handling, steering, and fuel economy from Normal, to Eco and Sport modes. Eco mode adjusts engine response and climate control settings to maximize fuel economy. Sport mode sharpens throttle and transmission response for a more engaging driving experience.
The V6 is matched to a 6 speed automatic transmission with manual functionality that helps boost performance, efficiency, and seamless shifting.
New Safety Tech Adds Confidence
The ES350 once again builds on a class leading safety formula with new innovative technology. Along with standard 4 wheel disc brakes, the ES350 offers ABS, Brake Assist, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.
Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control are also standard. Vehicle Stability Control helps control skidding, and adjusts steering and traction in adverse conditions. The ES350 also has a refined Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
It’s really cool how the HID headlamps bend corners to help the driver see through dark windy roads. Automatic High Beams activate and deactivate to not blind oncoming traffic on dark roads.
The available Pre Collision system uses sub millimeter wave radar designed to detect certain obstructions traveling ahead to prepare the vehicle for a potential collision.
Along with 10 standard airbags, the ES has Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats that limit whiplash in rear-end collisions.
For 2015 the backup camera is standard and Intuitive Park Assist only an extra $500. Safety Connect includes Automatic Collision Notification, Emergency Assist, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance. The only drawback to the ES350’s safety technology is that there’s a warning beep for nearly everything- when I open the door, when I’m not putting on my seatbelt fast enough, even to remind me to take my key out of the ignition.
Sophisticated Interior with Cool New Tech
The new ES350 has a classy interior with some cool new amenities. I like the moon roof, the heated and ventilated front seats, and the 7 inch touchscreen. The ES350’s leather trimmed cabin as advanced functionality for all passengers. Both front seats have a 10 way adjuster. And drivers have a cool heated leather wrapped steering wheel and a 3.5 inch TFT Multi Info Display (MID) nestled in the dash.
Along with Optitron gauges and a eco monitor, the MID displays vital info like range, outside temperature, tire pressure, cruising range, and the drive monitor.
The ES350’s leather trimmed cabin boasts standard perforated NuLuxe leather available in Parchment, Light Gray, or Black with contrast stitching. The Luxury Package adds expresso Bird’s Eye Maple Wood Trim. The interior is also spacious with 41 inches of front legroom and 40 inches of rear legroom. That’s more than most other mid-size sedans. But headroom is lessened with the sedan’s low profile. Even 5’5” tall Editor Sommer’s head grazed the ceiling when she sat up.
I enjoyed the power rear sunshade and the one-touch power folding trunk. The ES350 also boasts a standard illuminated entry with LED ambient lighting, LED license plate illumination, and illuminated exterior mirror puddle lamps.
A 7 inch screen displays audio, navigation, and infotainment. I like how the screen can be customized and settings adjusted with the revised Remote Touch Controller. The home screen can be divided into 2 or 3 sections displaying audio, navigation direction, and or phone calls all at once.
The much improved navigation shows 3D map views with aerial views. The new navigation also shows buildings and points out landmarks. I really liked the enhanced navigation that includes alternative routes and predicative traffic. Predicative traffic provides a view of traffic based on Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network. The navigation also displays speed limits, traffic, and weather warnings- even a Doppler weather forecast.
The 7 inch screen can adjust the audio which includes available SDRS Radio, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth streaming audio. Siri Eyes Free mode is also standard. Lexus Enform provides access to Appsuite, a voice enabled application that includes OpenTable, Bing searches, MovieTickets.com, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker, and Yelp.
As far as sound, the ES30 has a bangin 8 speaker premium sound system. GreenEdge Technology doubles amplifier output while reducing energy consumption. A CD/DVD player is also standard.
For those who want to trick-out their sporty ES350 an 8 inch screen, a wood and leather trimmed shift knob, 12 way heated/ ventilated front seats, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, even 18 inch high-gloss alloy wheels, are available.
The new ES350, with its subtle but meaningful modifications will continue to make it a leader, innovator, and top seller in its class. The 2015 ES350 has a MSRP of #37,550 and runs $44,145 fully loaded. The ES350 is comparable to whips that cost much more for what it offers.