What's New for 2007
The Lexus ES has been fully redesigned for 2007. Now called the ES 350, it has improvements in power, interior room and luxury features.
Aimed squarely at folks who value a soft, quiet ride and coddling features above blazing performance and sports-car handling, Lexus' midsize ES luxury sedan series has done well for itself. Success has come by giving those buyers exactly what they want in a package boasting the company's trademark refinement.
The Lexus ES is reborn for 2007 and is now called the ES 350. As has been the case for past ES models, the new model has underlying mechanical similarity to the Toyota Camry. As with its redesigned-for-'07 sibling, the front-wheel-drive ES 350 has a larger engine, a 3.5-liter V6, paired to a new six-speed automatic transmission. The combination provides the car with considerably more power while still offering respectable fuel economy.
Lexus' engineers and designers have expended considerable effort on making sure their product is indeed perceived as an entry-luxury sedan. The car's new styling has sharp creases and squinting taillights that tie it in with other Lexus vehicles, and there are plenty of new luxury features. Items of note include keyless entry and starting, active headlights that swivel when cornering, active cruise control and a back-up camera (incorporated into the optional navigation system's display). An updated Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system that can play DVD-audio and video discs is also available this year.
With a cabin that doesn't give much away to the flagship LS 460, the 2007 Lexus ES 350 is one of the poshest luxury sedans in the sub-$35,000 segment. Everything that one sees and touches exudes quality, from the rich walnut accents to the movement of the radio's tuning knob.
Although the powerful V6 gives the ES 350 spirited performance, it's not a car meant for twisty road thrills. Handling is precise and pleasant, but performance enthusiasts will be better served by more firmly sprung and involving sport sedans such as Lexus' own IS series or rivals such as the Acura TL and the Infiniti G35. The Chrysler 300C offers more passenger room and the performance of a 340-horsepower V8, though its cabin doesn't approach the ES 350's in terms of style and refinement.
While all of these sedans are worth consideration, anyone seeking a soothing, quiet respite during commutes, errand runs and family trips would be hard-pressed to find a better choice than the polished-to-the-nth-degree 2007 Lexus ES 350.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Lexus ES 350 entry-luxury sedan comes in a single, well-equipped trim level. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a moonroof, 10-way power front seats, real wood accents, keyless entry and starting, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, automatic dual-zone climate control, HomeLink, one-touch up/down windows on all doors and an upscale audio system with six-disc CD changer and MP3 input jack.
Through a variety of optional (and usually pricey) packages, Lexus offers a bevy of additional features. These include leather seating, park assist, heated/ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a driver-side power front seat cushion extender and a front seat memory system. Also available are adaptive xenon HID headlights, a navigation system with voice activation, a premium Mark Levinson surround-sound audio and video system, satellite radio, a power rear sunshade and chrome wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
A 3.5-liter V6 with 272 hp and 254 pound-feet of torque sends its power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. A model of refinement, this smooth, silent powertrain whisks the Lexus ES 350 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates, at 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway, are above average for an upscale sedan.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, a tire-pressure monitor and a full array of airbags (including dual front knee, front-seat side and full-length side curtain) are all standard on the 2007 Lexus ES 350. Optional are rear-seat side airbags and a Pre-Collision System. The latter comes into play when an impending collision is sensed (via a frontal radar system) and automatically tightens up the seatbelts and applies full power braking when the driver presses the pedal.
In NHTSA crash tests, the ES 350 scored five stars (the highest possible) in the frontal-impact category for both driver and passenger. In side-impact tests, the Lexus scored five stars for front-occupant protection and four for the rear. In IIHS frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, the ES 350 rated "Good" (the highest possible).
Interior Design and Special Features
In keeping with Lexus tradition, the cabin of the Lexus ES 350 is warm and inviting. The various leather, vinyl, wood and metallic materials are all richly finished. Although the ES 350 is chock-full of luxury features, most controls are easy to find and use. The optional ventilated seats are among the best we've experienced, with plenty of cool air circulating throughout. This Lexus also boasts a roomy backseat and a large trunk with a pass-through.
As expected, the 2007 Lexus ES 350 provides a soft, absorbent ride yet provides better control than expected. Road, wind and engine noise are well muted -- this Lexus is one of the quietest cars we've ever tested at freeway cruising speeds. When pushed hard in the corners, there is noticeable body roll but the car remains composed. Most owners will probably never even notice that, as the ES 350 is a quiet, low-stress luxury sedan and makes no pretense at sporting intentions. Those seeking back-road thrills should test-drive its more tautly sprung though less comfy stable mates, the IS series.