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Sedan buying guide

For decades the sedan reigned supreme as the practical choice for millions of car buyers. The four-door configuration means easy access for all passengers; large trunks and folding rear seatbacks offer a range of utility; and in the right designer's hands, a sedan can assume timeless style and proportions. The sedan is also one of the most versatile forms, ranging from econobox basic to first-class executive comfort to back-road speed special.

Today, the crossover SUV has replaced the sedan as America's vehicle of choice. An SUV's high seating position offers easy step-in entry and a commanding view of the road, and voracious cargo capacity makes them a staple for active families. But for many, a sedan offers a level of driver engagement, handling and performance that still eludes even the best crossovers, with enough space and utility to make it an ideal daily commuter or family hauler.

Category: Subcompact | Compact | Midsize | Full-Size | Luxury Compact | Luxury Midsize | Luxury Full-Size | Luxury Flagship

For decades the sedan reigned supreme as the practical choice for millions of car buyers. The four-door configuration means easy access for all passengers; large trunks and folding rear seatbacks offer a range of utility; and in the right designer's hands, a sedan can assume timeless style and proportions. The sedan is also one of the most versatile forms, ranging from econobox basic to first-class executive comfort to back-road speed special.

Today, the crossover SUV has replaced the sedan as America's vehicle of choice. An SUV's high seating position offers easy step-in entry and a commanding view of the road, and voracious cargo capacity makes them a staple for active families. But for many, a sedan offers a level of driver engagement, handling and performance that still eludes even the best crossovers, with enough space and utility to make it an ideal daily commuter or family hauler.

Category: Subcompact | Compact | Midsize | Full-Size | Luxury Compact | Luxury Midsize | Luxury Full-Size | Luxury Flagship

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2018 Lexus ES 350 Review

Edmunds Associate Staff Writer Will Kaufman reviews the 2018 Lexus ES 350. This large luxury sedan may be getting long in the tooth, but it has consistently outsold all its competitors even after some of them underwent truly impressive redesigns. What is it about the ES 350 that continues to make it such a popular choice? We explore the Lexus in our studio and on the road to find out.

Transcript

WILL KAUFMAN: Hi, this is Will Kaufman, and I'm here with the Lexus ES350. This is America's favorite midsize luxury sedan, but why? Let's find out. The ES350 is a little bit of an outlier, both for Lexus and for the class, in general. It's the only Lexus sedan that's front-wheel drive, and it's the only Lexus sedan currently on sale, that's really closely related to Toyota products. In this case, the platform underneath this, is similar to what's under the Camry and the Toyota Avalon. This car also hasn't had a major redesign since 2012 so it's getting a little bit long in the tooth. And yet, it's still managed to outsell every other midsize luxury car, including the new Mercedes Benz E-Class and the new BMW 5 Series. So what is it about this car that makes it stand out for buyers? Let's get in it and find out. One of the ES350 strengths is definitely its price. The base car starts at just under $40,000, which is pretty reasonable for the class. For that price, you get proximity entry with push button start. You get a power sunroof. You get leatherette seats, instead of real leather. You do get an eight-inch infotainment display screen. HD and satellite radio, along with Bluetooth streaming audio. Standard equipment also includes, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. There are quite a few upgrades available for this car. Some of them are aesthetic. There are a lot of different colors of wood trim and leather that you can get so no matter what kind of wood you want to look at on your steering wheel, Lexus has you covered. There's the Mark Levinson stereo system that's a pricey upgrade, but sounds really good. There's a second sunroof for the rear seat. And a power rear sunshade, along with rear side windows sunshades that are manual. The inside of this car does feel a little dated-- honestly. There's kind of a lot of plastic around in here. In spite of the nice wood and leather that you see on the steering wheel and on the center console, there's also just hard plastic around. A lot of the buttons and switchgear are also plastics that just aren't quite up to par. This car has the heated and cooled leather seats. The heated and cooling aren't super impressive. They work, but not as well as what you'll see in some other cars. The padding on these seats is actually pretty nice. They strike a good balance of cushioning and support. My big issue with them is the headrest, which is actually pretty intrusive. For me, it comes forward just too far. Shorter drivers might not have this issue, but for me, I've been sitting in this car for about four days and I might need to see my chiropractor. As you might expect from a car in this class, the ES350 has plenty of leg room, and even with this dual pane sunroof up here, I still have enough headroom. This back seat isn't quite as fancy as what you'll see in a Mercedes or a BMW, especially as you start optioning those up, but it is much less expensive. And it's still not a bad place to spend time. For example, there is a back seat vent, but there's no separate climate control zone for the back seat. And there's no separate controls. There's also no USB ports back here, although there is a 12-volt outlet, or what you might know as a cigarette lighter port. Fold-down armrests with its own cup holders. And you also have some sunshades to keep the glare or the paparazzi out. Overall, this is a pretty roomy back seat. The infotainment system-- honestly-- is another one of this car's weaknesses. You get this little toggle here and it's finicky to use on the road, but it's not the biggest problem with this system. The biggest problem is the logic behind the choices of the labeling of the buttons in there. It's sort of hard to find what you're looking for in this system. And honestly, it takes me a couple of tries to figure out how to get to the commands that I actually want to use. Fortunately, you don't have to interact with this all that much. There are physical buttons for almost all of the controls that you use on a regular basis, and that's pretty smart in this car. Once you have your radio presets put in, you can do almost everything you need to do just by touching buttons that are pretty clearly labeled, easy to find, and easy to use. The one exception is navigation. Luckily, voice controls work pretty well there, and there are prompts to guide you through. So now that I'm mostly comfortable, let's get this car on the road and see how it drives. Whatever music is playing right now, I want you to imagine that it's a soothing, string concerto, perhaps, in E minor because that's really the vibe of this car. Under the hood is a three and a half liter V-6 that's only making 268 horsepower. That's both not an exceptional number for the class and also, not an acceptable number for how big the motor is. In our testing, this car did manage to make a zero to 60 run faster than the stated time from Lexus. We measured it in about 6.8 seconds. Again, not bad, but it's more than half a second slower than the stated time for a base E-class. That three and a half liter V-6 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, and it drives the front wheels. Acceleration in this car isn't blistering. It's a strong engine, though, and it's really smooth-- that's sort of what it's meant to be. It has enough power to get out of its own way and to accomplish merges and passing maneuvers. And it's not going to set the world on fire. Transmission handles shifts really smoothly. Again, sort of the point of this car. The steering is very light, and there's no real feel from the front wheels, but resistance does build. Only a little bit, but naturally, as you turn the wheel. The brakes in this car are very predictable. They're very easy to use. So that's sort of it. That's what this car is about. It's not a sports sedan. It's a comfortable, easy to drive luxury car. On city streets, it feels better than on the freeway. On the freeway, you start to notice how busy it can get. If you know what a Camry rides like, this rides like a nicer Camry. The handling in this car is surprisingly competent, really. Even though it's not that engaging on a back road, it handles itself pretty well. You actually feel pretty confident taking it around corners. Adaptive cruise control in this car. This is an old car, and it's one of those systems that does not work in stop and go traffic. It will only turn on above a certain speed, and it cuts out automatically below that speed. This is an older car, and you can tell from the technology and the interior design, that it's ready to be replaced. So the Lexus ES350 might not be the most exciting luxury car on the road, might not be all of the luxury car you want, but it might be the luxury car you need. It's just accessible and easy. I will say this, though, there is a new ES350 coming out in 2019, which means that if you're interested in this car, it's probably a good idea to wait a little while. Pretty soon, you're going to see the prices on these drop, and you'll have a choice between, maybe, a nice little discount on an ES350 from 2018, or a new 2019 ES350, if that appeals to you. Thanks for watching. If you like this video, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you're interested in finding out more about the Lexus ES350 or its competitors, make sure to check out edmunds.com.

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