2010 Buick LaCrosse vs. 2009 Lexus ES 350 Comparison Test and Video

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term

2009 Lexus ES 350 Sedan

(3.5L V6 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2010 Buick LaCrosse vs. 2009 Lexus ES 350 Comparison Test Video

    The impressive new 2010 Buick LaCrosse takes on the 2009 Lexus ES 350 in this comparison test. The result is likely to surprise you. | October 14, 2009

1 Video , 46 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • 2010 Buick LaCrosse Specs and Performance
  • 2009 Lexus ES 350 Specs and Performance

Ironing Out the Wrinkles in the Entry-Level Luxury Sedan

If you do your part to forget about your (grand)father's Buick, we'll do ours to refrain from picking the low-hanging fruit when it comes to smart remarks in this comparison test of the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS and the 2009 Lexus ES 350. There will be no references to forgotten left-turn signals or Murder She Wrote. Instead we'll ensure our focus remains on how well each car fulfills its promise of entry-level luxury.

Rather than our usual 20 percent emphasis on intended acceleration and other track performances, we'll count those only as 10 percent of the total score for this comparison. Instead, we'll reward these cars more heavily for their ability to coddle, pamper and supply the kind of features a modern luxury car should — increasing this component of the final tally to 25 percent from our normal 20 percent. And in light of this era of doomsday economics, we've made the price 25 percent of the final score, up from 20 percent.

The Luxury Landscape
What started in 1989 as a gussied-up Toyota Camry has matured over 20 years into one of the best-selling luxury sedans in the U.S. It might surprise you that the low-profile front-wheel-drive Lexus ES historically has been the sales leader for the high-profile Lexus brand, outselling its more expensive rear-wheel-drive Lexus siblings like the GS and IS, not to mention the range-topping LS. The expectation of super reliability, solicitous service writers, loaner cars and projected resale value had much to do with the success of the entry-level Lexus, which is perceived as a great value for the luxury received.

We also believe one of the reasons for the ES's popularity is the relatively thin field of competitors in the segment of entry-level luxury sedans. The Acura TL has gone all beak-nosed and high-tech, alienating those in search of simple luxury. The Cadillac CTS is conflicted and needs a singular concept ("Standard of the World" might be a good one to dust off). Infiniti is still trying to establish itself, though neither the G nor the M sedans seem to fit the luxury segment. Lincoln has failed so many times with rebadged Fords that nobody pays much attention anymore, and any differentiation among the cryptically described MKS, MKT, MKX and MKZ devolves into a case of brand glaucoma. As far as the German sedans go, choices for buyers not interested in Nürburgring lap times have been limited.

Meanwhile, Lexus has been quietly reaping the rewards by satisfying buyers looking for a comfortable, reasonably priced luxury sedan, and so the 2009 Lexus ES 350 is the latest in a long line of sedans that have trudged along essentially unchallenged in this market segment. But now GM — and more specifically, Buick — wants some of that action, and the 2010 Buick LaCrosse is its answer.

Is Buick the New Lexus?
So it was only a little surprising that when the all-new 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS (base price of $33,765) arrived at Edmunds HQ, it appeared more than prepared to take on the 2009 Lexus ES 350 at $35,345.

Anyone who doubts the LaCrosse's mission is to compete with the ES 350 need only scan the lengthy standard equipment list and drive one a couple hundred yards. As Dan Pund said in our Full Test of the LaCrosse CXS, "Really, people, you're going to have to get past your whole Buick thing. Wake up; times are changing."

And judging from your interest in our quick test of the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXL with its 3.0-liter V6 and our full test of the LaCrosse CXS with its 3.6-liter V6, this all-new Buick has your attention, as well it should.

Lazy Boy
When we drove the LaCrosse and ES 350 side-by-side during our comparison testing, it was immediately evident that the standard, heated/ventilated, leather-upholstered front seats in the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS were far more comfortable and supportive than the ES 350's optional seats. (Leather upholstery isn't even standard on the 2009 Lexus ES 350.) Extra point for Buick that these easy chairs also boast handsome and well-executed double stitching, a detail that's evident throughout the cabin.

According to the SAE's calibrated tape measure, the front accommodations of the two sedans are within fractions of an inch of one another, but the rear seats of the Buick not only measure larger but also are noticeably larger to the eye as well. Yes, we have noted that the Buick surrenders about 2 cubic feet of trunk volume (and a smaller aperture as well as limited rearward visibility) to enjoy this asset, but its cargo capacity of 12.8 cubic feet is still large by most standards.

The rear seats in the Lexus are fixed and the armrest contains a ski-size pass-through. The rear seats in the LaCrosse also hide a ski-size pass-through, but additionally accommodate a 60/40-split folding feature that expands the cargo capability. And though our Buick isn't so equipped, there is an available rear-seat DVD entertainment system — an option not currently available in the Lexus.

The rear passengers of the Lexus also will be underwhelmed with a couple of HVAC vents, while the Buick supplies vents, a simple power point and a genuine two-prong AC power outlet. Both these cars are equipped with powered rear sunshades and rear side-mounted airbags.

Fine Motor Skills
In terms of driving dynamics, the Lexus has one subtle but distinct advantage over the Buick, because you never notice the drivetrain at all. We've praised Toyota's powerful and efficient 3.5-liter 2GR V6 in everything from a Toyota RAV4 and Sienna minivan to the Lexus IS 350 and RX 350. In the ES 350, the ultra-smooth and remarkably quiet V6 develops 272 horsepower, yet requires high-octane fuel to do so. The EPA's combined fuel economy rating for the 2009 Lexus ES 350 is 22 mpg, and we confirmed it with an observed average of 21 mpg.

The direct-injection 3.6-liter V6 in the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS makes more power than the Lexus V6 with 280 hp and it does so with regular-grade fuel. At the same time, it also has to stir more than 2 tons of luxury sedan, which translates into an average of 18.5 mpg in our testing, while the official EPA rating is 21 mpg. The Buick never ever feels overburdened, but it just doesn't accomplish overtaking maneuvers as effortlessly as the Lexus. The transmission programming in the Buick is also busier than that of the Lexus, prioritizing fuel savings instead of seamless, unobtrusive power.

It's not a huge surprise the lighter ES 350 (by a whopping 472 pounds) outpaced the slightly more powerful Buick at the test track by about a half-second across all the sampled speeds. Then again, if a half-second matters to you, then you might be shopping in the wrong showroom. (Sport sedans are on the other side, sir, next to the branded athletic apparel.)

Fancy Suspenders
From behind the Buick CXS's standard heated steering wheel, we found its ride far more controlled and yet soothing than that of the squishy Lexus. The LaCrosse CXS has standard two-mode self-adjusting shock absorbers that do an excellent job of damping out impacts with a single(!) rebound stroke. In comparison, the Lexus feels soggy with its soft springs, and the traditional dampers allow the body to oscillate through at least two suspension cycles after an impact. There was a time (1997-2001) when the Lexus ES 300 offered Adaptive Variable Suspension, including a sport/comfort selector, but cost-cutting seems to have taken a toll.

It might not matter to you that the Buick's $800 Touring package includes 19-inch wheels (the Lexus wears standard 17s) and ties together transmission, steering and damping rates for what is supposed to be a sportier driving experience. Somebody once said, "A difference, to be a difference, must make a difference," and, frankly, we could scarcely detect any variation in the way the LaCrosse CXS drove in Sport or normal modes. Actually, we feel the 19-inch wheels and Touring suspension settings transmit a slightly more brittle ride quality compared to the standard 18-inch wheels and standard suspension.

In fact, the LaCrosse CXL we tested with 18-inch wheels and without the Touring package matched this LaCrosse CXS's handling numbers, registered lower sound levels at 70 mph and enveloped road irregularities with the same imperviousness as Mr. Fancy Dampers.

The Clock Never Stops
An area where the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS scores big points is in our scoring for 10 selected features, including must-have items like navigation with real-time traffic information, remote starting, perforated leather seating with heat and ventilation, and so on. Of course there are items both cars have in common, like intelligent keys, premium audio systems, articulating xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate controls and oversize moonroofs.

Have a look at the Top 10 Features list, but in summary, of the 10 we chose, there were six important attributes we found to be standard on the Buick and the remaining four were optional. In contrast, there were six features that were not even available for the ES 350. In terms of scoring, this means the Buick LaCrosse CXS earns 80 points, where the Lexus ES 350 only manages 26.7 points.

Short-Term Memory Loss
It's not completely smooth sailing for the Buick, however. We docked the LaCrosse several points for design errors, not just the blind spots caused by the C-pillars in this coupe-style design but also the thick A-pillars and bulky side mirrors. We're not exaggerating when we say that these enormous buttresses literally obscure pedestrians in crosswalks and entire vehicles at a four-way stop.

There were also weak door detents that could barely hold open a door on the slightest incline. Rather than a dedicated trunk release button within the cabin, you must use either the key fob or a touch pad on the trunk plinth itself. And finally, we're still nursing our bruised knees after having met the jutting portion of the wraparound dashboard when we entered the car. There's a programmable easy-entry feature that motors the driver seat aft to avoid this tight squeeze, but the car sometimes forgets to return the seat to the driving position.

Relics
To be fair, the Lexus had its share of design foibles as well. The 2009 Lexus ES 350 interior looks and feels like an antique compared to the contemporary LaCrosse CXS. The promotional material for the Lexus even specifically calls out the ES 350's 1970s-era "electronic digital quartz clock."

The mahogany-tinted high-gloss wood looks like it came from a downmarket furniture store, and what's with the old Mercedes-style shift gate for the shift lever? And we nearly called an anthropologist when we spied the ES 350's cassette tape player. Sure, Lexus drivers are known enthusiasts of books on tape, but does Mark Levinson know it's still there?

Retirement Age
The final demerit for the 2009 Lexus ES 350 regards its price. What starts out as a simple $1,580 price fissure that favors the better-equipped 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS grows to a $4,650 chasm at the bottom line once you compare feature content. If we were to subtract the ES 350's $4,250 navigation/Mark Levinson package from its bottom line, the car would still be $400 more expensive than the LaCrosse and even less competitive.

What at first appeared to be a put-up-or-shut-up proposition for Buick has resulted in a thorough embarrassment for Lexus. The two entry-level luxury sedans are effectively tied in our ratings of performance and fuel, but every place else — evaluation scores, feature content and price — the 2010 Buick LaCrosse walks away from the 2009 Lexus ES 350 with a decisive 17-point victory.

We're not saying the Lexus ES 350 is not a fine automobile; we're just saying its time has passed as a standard by which entry-level luxury sedans are to be measured. For that, you must consider the 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS as the new leader in its class.

At first we questioned GM's strategy, not only with the LaCrosse itself but also with the notion of Buick as a genuine competitor for Lexus. But after this comparison, we have no doubt that the 2010 Buick LaCrosse is a game-changing, brand-defining automobile that will go far to both revitalize Buick and promote the new General Motors.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Second Opinion

Inside Line Executive Editor Michael Jordan says:
We're still all a little bit woozy with the shock of how good the Buick LaCrosse is. We just didn't see it coming. Buick has been blathering for a while now about the way it wants to confront Lexus on the Japanese premium brand's own turf, but aside from that old minivan-based utility it produced, which looked like the Mr. Potato Head version of the Lexus RX 350 with assorted styling cues stuck to a graceless box, we haven't seen much evidence.

But the LaCrosse gets your attention from the moment you get behind the wheel. This is a genuinely ambitious car, a worthy successor to all those great Buick concept cars over the past decade that never got built. And it goes down the road like a car with an international heritage, not just a Detroit-style one. We've been skeptical about this GM Epsilon platform as it has evolved from the barely adequate Saturn Aura to the amazingly competent Chevy Malibu to the truly international Opel Insignia and now into the high-tech Vauxhall Insignia VXR, and we're believers now.

Yet one more thing remains. It's easy to forget that GM has always managed to stuff a lot of features into an affordable package. It's a concept that sold a lot of Chevy Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires in its day. Yet we can't forget that much of the appeal of the Lexus ES 350 rests on the absolute credibility of the Lexus brand, a proven history of quality and customer service. This is the authenticity that has always been missing from GM's efforts in the past, and it is the thing that Buick must have if it is to succeed as an important car company in the U.S., not to mention China.

Top 10 Features

This comparison is all about perception versus reality, and it continues when we examine the standard and optional features of the 2010 Buick LaCrosse and 2009 Lexus ES 350. It might surprise you to learn that the less expensive car also has more features — some of which are not even available on the more expensive car.

Features
  2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS 2009 Lexus ES 350
All-wheel drive O* N/A
Four-cylinder engine O* N/A
Heated steering wheel S N/A
Heated/ventilated front seats S O
Multimode dampers O N/A
Navigation with real-time traffic O N/A
Perforated leather seating S O
Power rear sunshade S O
Remote start S N/A
Sonar parking assist S O

Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional
O*: Optional but not equipped on test vehicle
N/A: Not Available

All-wheel drive: While all-wheel drive will be an option late in the model year for the LaCrosse CXL with its 3.0-liter V6 (not the 3.6-liter V6 of the CSX) and six-speed automatic transmission, there is no Lexus ES 350 currently offered with all-wheel drive.

Four-cylinder engine: Also later in the 2010 model year, there will be a Buick LaCrosse CX available with a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 that's expected to achieve 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway/25 mpg combined.

Heated steering wheel: Standard on the LaCrosse CXS; not available on the Lexus ES 350.

Heated/ventilated front seats: Standard on the LaCrosse CXS; optional within each of the ES 350's bundled option packages.

Multimode dampers: Multimode dampers (shock absorbers) can alter a vehicle's ride quality and handling characteristics. These optional dampers within the Buick's reasonably priced Touring package ($800) are combined with 19-inch wheels and tires. Ironically, multimode variable dampers were once available on the third-generation Lexus ES 300, 1997-2001.

Navigation with real-time traffic: While navigation systems are becoming ubiquitous, knowing where, when and if your preferred route is a bad idea can be a life-saver. Living in a crowded metropolitan area like Los Angeles, we find these systems that deliver updates about traffic congestion to be an invaluable resource. The Buick LaCrosse features such a system as part of its reasonably priced ($1,995) Harman Kardon audio system upgrade with hard-drive-based navigation/music storage server and back-up camera. The Lexus ES 350's pricey ($4,250) DVD-based navigation plus Mark Levinson premium audio package isn't available with a traffic function and moreover didn't compare in terms of features or performance to the superior Buick.

Perforated leather seating: Believe it or not, the base Lexus has cloth seats, but perforated leather is standard on the LaCrosse CXS.

Power rear sunshade: Standard on the LaCrosse CXS; optional within several of the ES 350's bundled option packages.

Remote start: If you live where the outdoor temperature never varies from an ideal 65 degrees F, you won't be interested in starting your car remotely, nor would you care to have the car automatically defrost the windshield, rear window, or turn on the heated or ventilated seats all before you get in. But in the real world, it gets cold and hot, and the Buick LaCrosse CXS can do all of the above and it does so with standard equipment that's not available at any price on the Lexus ES 350.

Sonar parking assist: Standard on the LaCrosse CXS; optional on the Lexus ES 350.

Data and Charts

Dimensions
Engine & Transmission Specifications
Warranty Information
Performance Information


Dimensions
Exterior Dimensions & Capacities
  2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS 2009 Lexus ES 350
Length, in. 196.9 191.1
Width, in. 73.1 71.7
Height, in. 59.2 57.1
Wheelbase, in. 111.7 109.3
As Tested Curb Weight, lb. 4,155 3,683
Turning Circle, ft. 38.7 36.7


Interior Dimensions
  2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS 2009 Lexus ES 350
Front headroom, in. 38.0 37.8
Rear headroom, in. 37.3 37.0
Front shoulder room, in. 57.4 57.3
Rear shoulder room, in. 56.0 56.3
Front legroom, in. 41.7 42.2
Rear legroom, in. 40.5 35.9
Cargo volume, cu-ft. 12.8 14.7
Max cargo volume, cu-ft. 60/40 split Ski pass-thru


Engine & Transmission Specifications
Engine & Transmission
  2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS 2009 Lexus ES 350
Displacement
(cc / cu-in):
3564 (217) 3456 (211)
Engine Type Direct-injected V6 V6
Horsepower (SAE) @ rpm 280 @ 6,300 272 @ 6,200
Max. Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 259 @ 4,800 254 @ 4,700
Transmission Six-speed auto Six-speed auto
EPA Fuel Economy City, mpg 17.0 19.0
EPA Fuel Economy Hwy, mpg 27.0 27.0
Observed Fuel Economy combined, mpg 18.5 21.0


Warranty
Warranty Information
  2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS 2009 Lexus ES 350
Basic Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain 5 years/100,000 miles 6 years/70,000 miles
Roadside Assistance 5 years/100,000 miles 4 years/unlimited miles*
Corrosion Protection 6 years/unlimited miles 6 years/unlimited miles
    * plus lodging for emergency breakdown 100-plus miles from home

Performance
Performance Information
  2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS 2009 Lexus ES 350
0-60 mph acceleration, sec. 7.5 6.9
Quarter-mile acceleration, sec. 15.6 14.9
Quarter-mile speed, mph 90.3 96.7
60-0-mph braking, feet 127 133
Lateral Acceleration, g 0.80 0.78
600-ft slalom, mph 62.3 57.2

Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation

Final Rankings
Item Weight 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS 2009 Lexus ES 350
Personal Rating 2.5% 100.0 50.0
Recommended Rating 2.5% 75.0 75.0
Evaluation Score 20% 77.1 73.4
Feature Content 25% 80.0 26.7
Performance 10% 86.8 88.8
Fuel Consumption 15% 94.9 100.0
Price 25% 100.0 88.2
Total Score 100.0% 87.7 70.4
Final Ranking 1 2

We tweaked the knobs on this comparison slightly to de-emphasize track performances and put more weight behind features and price. Not that it matters much, because the Buick LaCrosse still would have been the winner here even with our usual category scoring, but only by a slightly smaller margin.

Personal Rating (2.5%): Purely subjective; after the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she would buy if money were no object.

Recommended Rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she thought would be best for the average consumer shopping in this segment.

28-Point Evaluation (20%): Each participating editor ranked both vehicles based on a comprehensive 28-point evaluation. The evaluation covered everything from ride comfort, steering response and brake performance to cupholders and exterior design. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature Content (25%): For this category, the editors picked the top 10 features they thought would be most beneficial to the consumer shopping in this segment. For each vehicle, the score was based on the number of actual features it had versus the total possible (10). Standard and optional equipment were taken into consideration.

Performance Testing (10%): Both cars were put through a comprehensive battery of instrumented tests, including 0-60 acceleration, quarter-mile runs and panic stops from 60 mph. They were also run through a 600-foot slalom course to test transitional handling and around a skid pad to determine ultimate grip. The vehicles were awarded points based on how closely each came to the better-performing vehicle's score in each category.

Fuel Consumption (15%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the EPA's "Combined" fuel economy estimates for the cars in the comparison test. Assigning 100 to the more fuel-efficient vehicle, the less efficient vehicle received a resulting percentage value.

Price (25%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the less expensive vehicle in the comparison test. Using the "as tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the less expensive vehicle received a score of 100, with the remaining vehicle receiving a lesser score based on how much each one costs.

Vehicle
Model year2010
MakeBuick
ModelLaCrosse
StyleCXS 4dr Sedan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
Base MSRP$33,765
Options on test vehicleTouring Package, AM/FM/XM Radio With Navigation, Engine Block Heater, Oversized Power Sunroof, Xenon Headlamps, Rear-Seat Thorax Airbags, Head-Up Display, Red Jewel Tintcoat Paint.
As-tested MSRP$39,325
Drivetrain
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Engine typeDirect-injection V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3,564cc (217 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1)11.3
Redline (rpm)6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)280 @ 6,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)259 @ 4,800
Transmission typeSix-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 4.48, II = 2.87, III = 1.84, IV = 1.41, V = 1.00, VI = 0.74, FD = 2.77, R =2.88
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, electronically controlled dampers, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, electronically controlled dampers, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeHydraulic-assist speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)15.2:1
Tire brandGoodyear
Tire modelEagle RS-A
Tire typeAll season
Tire size, frontP245/40R19 94W
Tire size, rearP245/40R19 94W
Wheel size19-by-8.5 inches
Wheel materialPainted alloy
Brakes, front12.6-inch ventilated disc
Brakes, rear12.4-inch solid disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)4.9
0-60 mph (sec.)7.5
0-75 mph (sec.)11.2
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.6 @ 90.3
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.2
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)127
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)62.3 (61.1 ESC on)
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.80 (0.76 ESC on)
Sound level @ idle (dB)44.4
@ Full throttle (dB)78.2
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)68.1
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsCompared to the 3.0 CXL, there's only a little more snap or sizzle from the CXS's 3.6-liter V6. Again, shifts are exceptionally smooth and occur at what we assume is a 6,500-rpm redline (none evident on tach). Quiet and confident but not at all what we'd call thrilling.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsPedal has some idle-stroke, but the brakes themselves feel strong. Despite an identical 127-foot best stop, there's a little more fade on the CXS than on the CXL where this car's distances grew by about 5 feet from first to fourth stop. No ABS flutter or hum and dead straight.
Handling ratingGood
Handling commentsSkid pad: Appropriate effort/build-up from steering wheel. Easy to find the mild understeer at the limit. Good balance so I could easily alter the course with the throttle. ESP is rather conservatively tuned here, resulting in brake application as well as throttle closure. Slalom: This CXS doesn't feel as crisp as the CXL did, but it ultimately makes the same handling numbers. The differences are: turn-in isn't as quick, it takes more time to take a set and I had more difficulty placing the car very near the cones without hitting them. The stability system is well tuned to approach limits with minimal intrusion. All handling tests in Sport mode.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)90.4
Wind (mph, direction)3.0 (head/cross)
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)17 city/27 highway/21 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)13.0 worst/25.4 best/18.5 average
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.4
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)4,065
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)4,155
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)58/42
Length (in.)196.9
Width (in.)73.1
Height (in.)59.2
Wheelbase (in.)111.7
Track, front (in.)61.7
Track, rear (in.)62.0
Turning circle (ft.)38.7
Legroom, front (in.)41.7
Legroom, rear (in.)40.5
Headroom, front (in.)38.0
Headroom, rear (in.)37.3
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.4
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.0
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)12.8
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Data not provided (60/40-split fold and ski pass-through)
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion6 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance5 years/100,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front, optional rear
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBraking assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic parking brake
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard tire-pressure monitoring with location
Emergency assistance systemNot available
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2009
MakeLexus
ModelES 350
Style4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Base MSRP$35,345
Options on test vehicleIntuitive Parking Assist, Navigation System With Mark Levinson Premium Audio, Ultra-Luxury Package
As-tested MSRP$43,975
Drivetrain
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Engine typeV6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3,456cc (211 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1)10.8
Redline (rpm)6,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)272 @ 6,200
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)254 @ 4,700
Transmission type6-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 3.330, II = 1.900, III = 1.421, IV = 1.000, V = 0.713, VI = 0.690, FD = 3.685, R = 4.148
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, trailing link, lateral links and stabilizer bar
Steering typeHydraulic-assist speed-proportional power rack-and-pinion steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.0:1
Tire brandMichelin
Tire modelEnergy MXV4 S8
Tire typeAll season
Tire size, frontP215/55R17 93V
Tire size, rearP215/55R17 93V
Wheel size17-by-7 inches
Wheel materialPolished alloy
Brakes, front11.7-inch ventilated disc
Brakes, rear11.1-inch solid disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)4.6
0-60 mph (sec.)6.9
0-75 mph (sec.)9.6
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.9 @ 96.7
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)6.5
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)133
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)57.2 (electronically limited)
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.78 (electronically limited)
Sound level @ idle (dB)44.7
@ Full throttle (dB)71.4
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)66.6
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThe non-defeat stability/traction control discourages a spirited launch, but this is still a helluva motor; smooth, torquey and revvy all at the same time. I found a tenth or so by manually shifting closer to the redline, but it's hardly worth the effort. The transmission is predictably smooth. The 95-97 mph trap speed is a surprise.
Braking ratingAverage
Braking commentsSoft suspension pitches forward under max braking. Also, the ABS is surprisingly loud and the pedal vibrates noticeably. Good fade resistance, but so-so stopping distances. Soft pedal doesn't inspire confidence.
Handling ratingPoor
Handling commentsNon-defeat VSC makes this test a non-event: driving around in a circle with the system beeping right at the threshold of brake and throttle intervention. Steering is buttery-smooth and predictably isolated from the front tires. Slalom: This car has one of the most intrusive VSC systems I've ever encountered -- more so than even the Smart. I tried to make a couple of runs without intervention, but it was nearly impossible. The "best" run was the result of letting the system grab brakes but just shy of where it also closed the throttle.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)84.0
Wind (mph, direction)4 (head/cross)
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)19 city/27 highway/22 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)19.3 worst/23.7 best/21.0 average
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,580
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,683
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)61/39
Length (in.)191.1
Width (in.)71.7
Height (in.)57.1
Wheelbase (in.)109.3
Track, front (in.)62.2
Track, rear (in.)61.7
Turning circle (ft.)36.7
Legroom, front (in.)42.2
Legroom, rear (in.)35.9
Headroom, front (in.)37.8
Headroom, rear (in.)37.0
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.3
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.3
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)14.7
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Ski pass-through only
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/70,000 miles
Corrosion6 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/Unlimited miles, lodging for emergency breakdown more than 100 miles from home
Free scheduled maintenanceFree first- and second-scheduled maintenance costs
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front, optional rear
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsStandard dual front
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBraking assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard direct tire-pressure monitoring
Emergency assistance systemOptional
NHTSA crash test, driver5 stars
NHTSA crash test, passenger5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side front5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side rear4 stars
NHTSA rollover resistance4 stars
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Lexus ES 350 in VA is:

$128 per month*
* Explanation
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