Shopping for a new Lexus ES 350?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“more freeway cruiser than canyon carver”
power and responsiveness to master any kind of traffic challenge
Kelley Blue Book
buyers aren't likely to find the V-6 wanting for power
“steering is numb, body roll is abundant in hard cornering”
Car and Driver
With the slight appearance changes for 2010, nothing has changed about the way the ES 350 drives, and that's a good thing. Based on previous experiences with the ES, it's still serene and soft, but not at all bouncy, with the torquey and well-muted 272-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 churning through the six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive expeditiously and responsively but without undue fanfare.
It propels the ES to 60 mph from a stop in just 6.8 seconds while managing fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.
V-8 configurations are optional on competing models, but Cars.com says that "buyers aren't likely to find the V-6 wanting for power" and praises the performance of the transmission as well. Edmunds notes that “shifts can be manually controlled using the sequential-style sport shifter.” During test drives, the transmission "never made a harsh shift," although "it can require lots of throttle to deliver a highway-speed downshift," according to ConsumerGuide, also noting that the Lexus ES 350 "scoots from a stop with satisfying strength" and "did 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds." Motor Trend assesses altogether that the 2010 Lexus ES 350 is "“more freeway cruiser than canyon carver," adding that "everything about this car is more biased toward a smooth ride than making the driver's heart beat faster."
Handling is competent and predictable, but the driver isn't much involved in the process. The steering is responsive but lacks any recognizable feel of the road surface; that, combined with lots of body roll and ample tire squeal actively discourage hard cornering. Car and Driver says that the car’s “steering is numb, body roll is abundant in hard cornering and braking performance is so-so.” Motor Trend reports that the car is “without an ounce of sporting pretension,” and Cars.com concurs, “With the smooth ride comes moderate body roll, and the car also tends to bob up and down a few times after traveling over a big dip in the road.” Cars.com also observes that the brake pedal “has a soft feel, and it's difficult at times to modulate the touchy brakes in order to stop smoothly.” Edmunds did bestow the Lexus with faint praise as “a perfect compromise between the couchlike driving experience of an American luxury car and the well-damped ride of a Japanese sport sedan.” Motor Trend sums that "twisty roads are not where the ES does its best work."
While ride quality on the highway is superb, the car’s steering doesn't offer enough on-center feel, in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com, which means you're constantly making minor adjustments to keep it tracking straight.
The 2010 Lexus ES 350 accelerates well, but when the roads turn curvy it's clear that this model favors ride comfort over handling.