You need a new sedan and you have a short list of requirements that include comfort, excellent reliability and outstanding safety ratings. A sporty ride isn’t important to you; luxury and comfort rules. Share that recipe with me and I’ll immediately suggest the 2016 Lexus ES 350.
This proven sedan is more affordable than many luxury sedans, is quiet and tastefully finished on the inside while it is proven to ensure you rarely visit the car repair shop — a claim many European luxury sedans can’t match.
Let’s explore five reasons to drive the Lexus ES 350.
The Lexus ES and Toyota Avalon share many elements, including the same platform and the same engine. That means that fuel economy, horsepower and overall weight are the same or similar. What’s different on the ES are the higher price, the nicer interior amenities, the expanded safety features and more paint color choices, to name just a few.
The ES 350 starts at $38,000 while the Toyota Avalon starts at a much more affordable $32,650. Surprisingly, the ES outsells the Avalon. Last year, nearly 65,000 ES models left the showrooms while just over 60,000 Avalon models were purchased by Toyota fans. Both vehicles achieve excellent reliability ratings and both offer comfortable front and rear accommodations for driver and passenger alike.
So which one should you test drive? I suggest both, since I tested the Avalon and ES 350 within a few months of each other and found plenty to like within both models. Neither are sporty, fast or particularly sexy. But they’re both remarkably solid, dependable and comfortable cars.
Reason #2: A Smooth Driver with a Comfortable Interior
The ES has a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission that finds the right gear with minimal fuss. The 268-horsepower engine offers adequate power for daily driving and confidence when passing slower vehicles on the freeway. The EPA expects you’ll average 24 mpg in combined driving, though I averaged 26 mpg. Select the hybrid ES 300h model and you can average 40 mpg in combined driving.
Passengers will appreciate the optional heated and cooled seats, the leather-wrapped seats, the panoramic sunroof and more. Lexus even offers an extended wheelbase model that increases rear-seat legroom to nearly limousine-like proportions. It’s all quite posh for an entry-luxury sedan that starts at $38,950. Even after adding all the available options, a well-appointed and luxurious Lexus ES 350 will only cost just over $46,000. That’s not inexpensive, but given all the luxury touches, it’s a lot of car for the money.
Reason #3: 2016 Lexus ES 350 Promises Excellent Reliability
No automaker does reliability better than Lexus and the ES 350 is a great example of why savvy drivers who want a luxurious car without ownership hassles choose this comfortable sedan. Consumer Reports reveals that reliability of the ES 350 is “Excellent” every year since 2006, with the exception of 2007 when the ES proved only “Very Good” by Consumer Reports’ standards. Looking forward the ES 350’s dependability is predicted to be “much better than average.”
Excellent reliability, alongside the quiet and comfortable interior, outstanding build quality and good fuel economy persuaded Consumer Reports editors to name the ES 350 to its list of “Recommended” vehicles for 2016.
Lexus backs ES 350 owners with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Reason #4: 2016 Lexus ES 350 is a Top Safety Pick+
The Lexus ES 350 is reliable and comfortable, but one could argue that safety is the area where this sedan is most improved for 2016. Though the ES earned “Good” ratings on all safety tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2015, it feel short of “Top Safety Pick” honors. Good news for 2016: the ES 350 was named a “Top Safety Pick+” after earning top scores on all IIHS tests. It also earned a “Superior” rating for front crash prevention when you add optional items like the pedestrian pre-collision system and Lexus Safety Sense+ that offers dynamic cruise control, intelligent high beams that improve safety while driving at night, and lane departure alert that helps keep distracted drivers stay within the appropriate lane.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the ES model a five-star overall safety rating and the ES comes with 10 standard airbags and a rearview camera.
Reason #5: Excellent Tech and Audio Features
Here’s a sound reason to consider the ES 350: the 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. With 835 watts and 7.1-channel architecture, it’s a surround sound system that envelops you in audio goodness. It’s my favorite feature of the ES. And the quiet cabin helps ensure that your favorite music always sounds great.
Lexus also offers the Enform infotainment system that pairs to your smartphone so you can access Pandora, iHeartRadio, Bing and other useful sites in the ES 350’s infotainment system. But that’s not all you gain from Enform. The system can automatically broadcast your location to emergency personnel if you’re involved in an accident. Enform Destinations allows you to call a live agent at any time to seek navigation help and the Enform agents can even upload a destination to your navigation system as you drive. And if you’re one of those people who wonder if your car is locked in a parking lot, Enform Remote enables you to start then engine remotely, confirm your doors are locked and windows are closed and even confirm you have enough fuel to get to work tomorrow.
A Good Luxury Sedan for Around $40,000
I like the ES 350. It’s not as sexy nor as fast as some of its competitors, but it offers an impressive array of excellent safety, class-leading reliability, and exceptional comfort features. It all makes it easy to recommend a test drive. Of course, the more conservative you are in your car choices, the more attractive the ES 350 becomes. Drive one and see why it’s one of America’s best-selling entry-luxury sedans.