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Lexus ES Review

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2007 ES 350 silver left.jpg

The Lexus ES is all-new for 2007. Boasting a new 3.5L 272hp V6 engine, the 2007 Lexus ES 350 is more powerful than last year's ES 330. In fact, the Lexus ES with this new engine is now a serious performer. Still, the Lexus ES is a luxury sedan that celebrates smoothness, quietude and sophistication. It doesn't suffer the hard ride of a sports sedan; you can safely sip a cappuccino on the way to work. The ride is smooth, the engine is smooth, the transmission operation is flawless, and everything is quiet.

See also the main fact sheets for the Lexus ES.

High Points

  • Improved new style
  • Smooth, quiet ride
  • More powerful


Low Points

  • Still feels like merely an improved Camry
  • A bit clumsy to shift
  • Trunk opening is high


Performance and Handling

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When the engine displacement, power and torque get such a big boost all at once, it can change your opinion of a car very quickly, and that's what happened with the new Lexus ES 350. The new ES 350 benefits from a brand-new all-aluminum engine design with all the latest technologies built in, and it's a honey, with 57 more horsepower than the 3.3L engine it replaces, and one more gear to run through (six, as opposed to five).

For the first time, performance is part of the equation in an ES. It's quick to respond, the engine is as smooth and quiet as you would expect, and the transmission operation is flawless, automatic or manual mode, downshift or upshift. Engine and transmission are linked by several electronic modules and the electronic throttle. Lexus quotes a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is certainly competitive in the segment.

Two important additions of standard equipment on the ES for 2007 are traction control and stability control which, when combined with this new chassis, allow sporting drivers to do maneuvers that no previous ES would do, and quickly. The front struts and multi-link rear suspension are both very well isolated from the rest of the car, making for a quiet, smooth ride, with greater control of pitch and body roll than the outgoing model.

Gas Mileage

According to FuelEconomy.gov, the 2007 Lexus ES 350 gets 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Safety

In safety tests carried out by the NHTSA, the ES 350 performed very well. In all front-impact tests and in front seat side-impact tests, the ES 350 got 5-star ratings. In rear seat side-impact and rollover tests, it received 4-star ratings. These scores place the ES 350 2nd behind the Mercedes-Benz C-Class in Autos.com's Safety category for Near-Luxury cars.

Reliability and Maintenance

Because the 2007 Lexus ES 350 is a brand new model built from a new platform, reliability information is not yet available. However, Lexus has maintained high standards in build quality and maintenance, so it is reasonable to expect that this model will prove to be just as reliable as past models.

Interior and Comforts

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If there is any part of this car that could be called a quantum leap, it's the interior, which is much more together, more modern, and more fully equipped than any previous Lexus ES interior.

It starts with the standard SmartAccess key fob and push-button engine starting, a first for the ES, and goes from there. The instrument panel and center stack are completely new and much more driver-centered, engaging and involving that previous panels. The main instruments are deeply tunneled, using white LED lighting and the Optitron electroluminescent displays that are part of all Lexus models, with their eye-pleasing startup routine. The standard trip computer monitors a dozen functions. All of the real wood trim is from a matched set that is serial-numbered for future replacement, if necessary. The thick, fat steering wheel is a pleasure to use.

There's more space overall, within a few cubic feet of the original LS 400 V8 rear-drive sedan at 95.4 cubic feet, with more shoulder and leg room built in, and the rear floor is flat and can accommodate large American feet under the seats. There are three interiors to choose from in leather, perforated leather, or cloth, plus optional semi-aniline leather.

The new ES is also insulated well. At cruising speeds, it's extremely quiet, in part due to a new acoustic-control laminated windshield.

Exterior

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The 2007 ES 350 featires the Lexus L-Finesse design scheme used on three concept cars and the GS and IS sedans, with everything emanating from the grille and flowing back over the car in hard lines. The grille has been subdued, the headlamp units have been made smaller and less obtrusive, and the accent line along the side has been raised to yield more musculature under the skin. Now this car looks like it belongs in a Lexus showroom.

The new ES 350 was consciously upsized, to about where the original LS 400 flagship car was when it was introduced. The wheelbase is more than two inches longer at 109.25 inches, the body is wider by 0.4 inches, the track is wider by 1.2 inches, and the body has crisper, shorter overhangs along with a new front, side and rear appearance that's much more luxurious looking than any previous ES.

About the only exterior customizing you can do other than paint and wheels is a choice of lighting, from standard projector beam to optional high-intensity discharge headlamps to optional adaptive lighting, the latter of which swings the headlamps through an arc of up to 15 degrees when turning. There are 10 colors to choose from.

Styles and Options

The 2007 Lexus ES 350 comes as one model, but buyers can opt for a huge range of equipment by selecting Premium, Premium Plus, Ultra Luxury, Pre-Collision, and Adaptive Cruise options packages. Freestanding options include park assist, a power rear sunshade, heated and ventilated front seats, a full-size spare tire, a wood and leather trim package, and DVD navigation with backup camera.

Optional equipment includes a navigation system, satellite radio (XM or Sirius), a 14-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system, Bluetooth wireless capability for cellphones, a panoramic glass roof, and radar-adaptive cruise control.


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