2010 Lexus ES 350 Gets Classier Cabin, Better Detailing

November 21, 2009
2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

The front-wheel-drive ES 350 has long been the most subtle car in Lexus' already hardly overt lineup—appealing to those who want a smooth, responsive, quiet, and very comfortable luxury car, with some world-class technology features inside.

For 2010, the ES 350 gets a number of changes, but it doesn't deviate one bit from its formula—all the while delivering the performance to satisfy all but real enthusiasts.

On the outside, the 2010 ES 350 gets the equivalent of a 'sharpen,' in photo-editor-speak. A new grille looks a bit larger, with a lot more chrome and a slightly different headlamp design to match, while the front corners have been brought out a bit more. New fog lamps and a wide, thin lower air dam complete the new and slightly different look in front, while the tail lamp design has been modified to suit the front details. Alongside, metallic trim for the side sills bridges the wheel wells, and new wheel designs also help freshen the look.

The interior takes a different direction, becoming warmer and softer, yet brighter. Trims and upholstery in the ES 350 have now been given a big upgrade versus last year, erasing any questions about whether the ES interior is much better than the top-of-the-line Camry. Contrast-stitched leather upholstery is now standard, with double stitching included with an Ultra Luxury Package, and richer-looking wood and bright-chrome trims add accents at the center stack and just above the glovebox. There's also a good deal more metallic-look trim throughout the interior, while leathers are supple and enveloping, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces all around. Walnut and maple trims have been added, along with a new Parchment leather hue.

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

2010 Lexus ES 350

Plenty of small improvements bear mentioning. Center-console storage has been improved and rain-sensing wipers are newly standard, as are rear-seat side airbags, bringing the ES 350's airbag count up to 10. For 2010, the driver regains the ability to turn the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) off, which might be of use in mud, sand, snow, or wherever a little wheelspin might help. And like several other models in the Lexus lineup, the ES now gets an 'eco' light that tells you when you're driving gently for improved fuel economy. The nav system has now been updated to the latest version, with Bluetooth audio now part of the package, along with Bluetooth hands-free features, a USB port, and XM satellite radio.

Also as part of the Ultra Luxury Package are Intuitive Park Assist, perforated leather with heated and ventilated front seats, a panorama glass roof, a power rear sunshade, and HID headlamps with AFS to help in dark corners.

Along with the nav-system upgrade, the Lexus Enform suite of services is newly available on the ES. All models get the Safety Connect system, which uses cellphone technology and GPS transceivers to provide Automatic Crash Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, emergency assistance (through an SOS button), and Roadside Assistance services. A 24-hour call center aids roadside assistance. With the optional navigation system, the 2010 ES 350 gets Lexus Enform, adding several satellite-radio subscription services, including Destination Assist, which enables operator-assisted destination entry; the Web site-driven eDestination; and a host of information services.

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.

Overall, it appears that Lexus sharpened the look and feature set of the 2010 ES 350, but maintained the subtle, nuanced character that buyers look for—and ended up with an even better take on this very comfortable, well-detailed luxury sedan.

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