While the ES 350 was luxurious, its lack of some family-friendly features such as sufficient cupholders and storage compartments had me questioning just who their target market was for this midsize sedan.
To say it handled beautifully would be an understatement. The V-6 engine gave this mom all the pep I could want. Thankfully, braking was as effortless and smooth as accelerating. Despite my somewhat aggressive driving, I averaged around 20 mpg during my weeklong test drive.
Ventilated leather seats and the walnut wood-trimmed interior turned my not-so-glamorous life into something a tad more shiny. For that one week, my automotive life was almost perfect. Its solid doors reminded me that my kids in the backseat were safe, even if I should happen to speed (a little) down the freeway.
The ES 350 has a starting MSRP of $36,725. My test car was equipped with several optional features, including the Ultra Luxury Package, pushing its price up to $44,500.
Lexus isn't known for taking risks. This gives its cars, including the ES, a somewhat classic look. The ES 350 is undeniably sleek and beautiful, but it lacked that sporty, head-turning element.
Because it's a sedan, it sits low enough to the ground that my 2-year-old could climb in and out of it by herself. However, the roofline was so low that my 9-month-old developed a permanent bruise on her forehead from me hitting her head on the door frame every time I tried to maneuver her out of her child-safety seat. Sorry 'bout that, baby.
While deep and somewhat cavernous, the trunk was easily accessible. The trunk is sizable. It swallowed my humongous double jog stroller with room to spare. It also features a pass-through to the cabin to accommodate longer items.
The Lexus ES 350 has a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that's paired with a six-speed automatic. For the 2011 model year, the engine has been revised so it now uses regular gas. It gets an EPA-estimated 19/27 mpg city/highway.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The ES' interior was so beautiful that I found myself fearing what my brood would do to it during our test drive. Luckily, it was as sturdy as it was sparkly.
In the front row, the comfy optional leather seats were heated and ventilated. Legroom wasn't lacking as my tall husband was able to fit in the front passenger seat with a rear-facing child-safety seat behind him in the second row. However, he struggled to find a comfortable seating position because of the adjustable lumbar support.
Almost every control in the sedan is accessible by voice commands. This was novel at first, but after spending about 20 minutes (unsuccessfully) yelling in unison with my 2-year-old daughter, "Add phone," we gave up on the voice-controlled system and went the old-school touch-screen route. The touch-screen made access to the navigation system a breeze, which made my driving experience much safer. I was no longer forced to rely on my smartphone to navigate through the Los Angeles' convoluted freeway system. This left my hands free to drive.