Despite a long run of bad press--much of it undeserved--Lexus continues to turn out fine vehicles. The 2011 Lexus ES 350 isn't the most high-end of these, but it is one of the most familiar. It's also a subtle, laid-back luxury sedan, and while that has broad appeal, we like our cars to have a little more character. Accordingly, MotorAuthority rates the 2011 ES 350 6 out of 10.
Performance and 2011 Lexus ES 350 are rarely found in the same sentence. Its 272-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 is certainly up to the task of traffic merges and passing acceleration, but there's nothing enthralling about its operation.
Handling isn't a strong suit of the ES 350 either. It offers a very comfortable, controlled, and not at all floaty ride, but it's clearly a setup that prioritizes serenity over sharpness. The steering is light and detached, the body rolls heavily when pushed hard through a bend, and the tires will squeal at the least provocation. The steering, despite its light, detached feel, also requires constant adjustment thanks to a lack of on-center feedback. Aside from these minor quibbles, the ES 350 makes a great interstate cruiser or long-distance commuter.
The long-distance traits are enhanced with exceptionally comfortable seats, plenty of room in the back, and generally high-quality, well-designed materials and trims. It's a relaxing place to spend time, and it encourages relaxed driving. Opt for the Ultra Luxury Package and you'll get bright chrome trim, richer wood accents, and more of both in general. In addition to being attractive and comfortable, the cabin is very quiet, hushing the outside world to a dull hum.
While you're cruising along in the 2011 ES 350, Lexus wants to keep you and your passengers entertained. An updated navigation system, Bluetooth audio capability, a USB port, and XM satellite radio are all available. To help you get to your destination, Lexus' in-house Enform telematics system is also available, offering, among other services, Destination Assist, which delivers operator-assisted directions direct to your car.
Other optional features include a panoramic glass sunroof, Intuitive Park Assist, heated and ventilated front seats, power rear sunshade, and active headlights. For a complete and detailed look at what makes the 2011 Lexus ES 350 tick, read the full review at TheCarConnection.