2013 Lexus ES 350 Luxury
As aristocratic automobile marques such as Bentley, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz go, Lexus came to the table late. It was almost a century after the German cohort that Lexus arrived.

The Japanese maker spared no expense in time or money to produce products aimed at matching the best on the block. For example, in the mid 1980s Lexus put its designers up in the finest homes in California and on the French Riviera so they could absorb the essence of how the other half lives.

The result was the flagship LS 400 saloon which was joined later by the Lexus ES 300, a smaller but no less luxurious car. Now comes the latest of this line, the ES 350.

2013 Lexus ES 350 Luxury
The Lexus ES 350 Executive Saloon comes in basic (probably not the best word) form, the well-appointed Luxury, selling for $65,000 (plus on-road costs), while the already elevated bar is hoisted even further by the Sports Luxury, at $74,000, again excluding on-roads, adorned by a host of high-class appointments.

Front and centre of the ES 350 is the signature hourglass radiator grille. Flanking this are halogen projector-style headlamps incorporating arrowhead LED daytime running lights. LEDs also make up the rear lights.

In the middle is a four-door sedan in a sleek coupe-like body that comes up with very good aerodynamics. Sporty looks are finished off with twin chrome tipped exhaust pipes.

2013 Lexus ES 350 Sports Luxury
Lexus ES 350 Sports Luxury occupants can settle into ventilated front seats, with ten-way power movement, or rear ones with heaters.

Climate control caters for three zones while unwanted glare and therefore hot weather can be warded off by rear side sunshades on top of the retractable rear shade fitted to the base model.

Then there’s the made-to-measure Mark Levinson audio system with its 15 speakers delivering wide-ranging high-fidelity sound to all corners of the cabin. A true five-seater, there’s no skimping on seating space, even for the centre spot in the back.

Both models feature leather accented upholstery, the Sports Luxury with added aniline leather trim. The test car was clothed in Ivory upholstery, not the most kid-friendly covering for the little grubs.

The ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine with variable valve timing producing maximum power of 204 kW at 6200 rpm and peak torque of 346 Nm at 4700 rpm, all with the near-absence of noise and vibration we have come to expect from Lexus. Carbon dioxide emissions are up with Euro stage five.

Expect to get fuel consumption around 10 to 12 litres per hundred kilometres on the daily commute, dropping to seven to nine litre per hundred on open country roads.

Active safety includes a pre-collision system that beeps and flashes when a crash appears imminent. Emergency braking is also applied if the driver doesn’t react correctly.

Active cruise control will also keep the Sports Luxury at a given time from a vehicle in front no matter how the speed changes. This can be optioned on the Luxury model, but is standard on the others.

Whatever travel mood the driver and passengers may be in this can be matched by the Lexus Drive Mode Select system controlled through a knob on the centre console which dials up Normal, Sport or Eco vehicle performance both inside (ambience) and out (ride and handling).

Information is displayed on an 8-inch screen situated centrally on the upper section of the dashboard, access to which is via a computer mouse-like control on the centre console – vehicle systems such as audio, navigation, air-con and phone, therefore, are conveniently at hand for the driver.

However, the joystick moves so freely it made the cursor shoot all over the screen. Almost uncontrollable, it was hard to pin down. That’s potentially dangerous if it’s being operated by the driver so we feel more resistance to movement needs to be designed into the stick.

Lexus ES 350 is an impressively smooth sedan with a touch of sportiness in its engine and chassis dynamics. It’s well priced for its class and worth consideration of you’re bored with the big-three German marques.


The complete Lexus ES range is:
ES 300h Luxury: $63,000
ES 300h Sports Luxury: $72,000
ES 350 Luxury: $65,000
ES 350 Sports Luxury: $74,000
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for driveaway prices.

Ten airbags: standard
Ten-way adjustable heated front seats: standard
Blind spot monitor: standard
Electric rear sunblind: standard
HDD sat nav: standard
Rear view camera with guideline assist: standard
Pre-collision system: standard
Lexus Voice Command: standard
Smart keyless entry / push button start
Ventilated front seats, rear seat heaters: Sports Luxury
Rear side window sunshades: Sports Luxury
High Intensity Headlights: Sports Luxury
Auto headlamp levelling: Sports Luxury
15-speaker Mark Levinson audio: Sports Luxury

Capacity: 3456 cc
Configuration: Six cylinders, V-formation, 24-valve, chain drive with dual VVTi
Maximum Power: 204 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 346 Nm @ 4700 rpm

Six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive

Length: 4900 mm
Width: 1820 mm
Height: 1450 mm
Wheelbase: 2820 mm
Turning circle: 11.4
Co-efficient of drag: 0.27
Seats/boot capacity: 5/490 litres
Fuel tank capacity: 65 litres

Front Suspension: McPherson strut
Rear Suspension: McPherson strut
Brakes: Ventilated disc (front); solid disc (rear) with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), hill start assist

Rack-and-pinion Electric Power Steering

17in alloy; 215/55 R17 93V (front and rear)

Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 9.5 L/100km, CO2 emissions 224 g/km
Emission standard: EU5

Greenhouse Rating: 5.5 / 10 Air Pollution Rating: 6.5 / 10

Four years / 100 kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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