If we had to pick a single word to sum up the 2012 Lexus ES 350, it would likely be “conservative.” While that may be criticism for some cars, the mid-range Lexus sedan wears it as a badge of honor. Exterior styling, for example, is understated but elegant, as is the ES 350’s interior. Its ride is focused on passenger comfort, yet the sedan still manages some degree of responsiveness. It’s a luxury car, but it’s still priced within the means of a large number of buyers, as long as you don’t pile on the options. In other words, if you’re looking for a car to impress the neighbors, the Lexus ES 350 probably isn’t your best choice.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a comfortable ride that will likely stand the test of time in both styling and mechanical reliability, the ES 350
is a good luxury sedan to shop. Based on the well-proven Toyota Camry platform, the ES 350 was refreshed for the 2010 model year with a restyled front end, more chrome and additional wood accents. The changes gave the ES 350 a more contemporary appearance without diminishing its appeal to traditional buyers.
If you’re looking for a sport sedan, the ES 350 doesn’t bring much to the table. While the car’s 3.5-liter V-6 packs a reasonable 272-horsepower, good enough for a 0 - 60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, the ES 350’s suspension doesn’t like to be rushed. There’s a significant amount of body roll in corners, and the light steering effort doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. That said, the handling is predictable, and the plush ride makes up for any handling shortcomings.
That ride quality makes the ES 350 ideal for long trips on the super-slab, as the Lexus soaks up highway miles with ease. Passengers are treated to a quiet cabin, wrapped in leather upholstery and adorned with highly polished, genuine wood trim. While the seats may not be as supportive as you’d find in rival sedans from Germany, they’re still comfortable, even for long days behind the wheel.
While the ES 350 starts off reasonably priced, the car gets expensive when you begin to add option packages. The Ultra Luxury Package, which includes amenities like heated and ventilated front seats, a wood and leather steering wheel, adaptive HID headlights, a panoramic moonroof and unique 17-inch wheels, adds over $3,500 to the sticker. If you want the navigation system, it runs an additional $2,465, or it can be purchased with the exceptional Mark Levinson audio system for a package price of $4,065. Although a base ES 350 lists for just over $37,000, adding popular option packages can easily increase the sticker price by $10,000.
For a detailed look at the 2012 Lexus ES 350, see our complete review on The Car Connection