2015 Lexus ES: Redefining a Brand
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19 October 2015
  John Kehlenbeck, Horsepower Auto Reviews

The current ES 350 is a champion of luxury and practicality. 

2015 Lexus ES

Personality: A small town banker out to prove his worth to the community

Best Gizmo: the surprisingly powerful sound system

Most Annoying Feature: The end of the line for this body style

MPG (as tested): 32 on the highway and 23 in the city, we drive efficiently 

Performance: more than we expected to be honest

Cars we smoked at stoplights: An Acura MDX

0-60: 7.2 seconds as tested

How Fast Is That? Satisfactory

How Much? Base price is $37,550 ($40,430 for the hybrid)

What option should I splurge on? The Premium Package ($3,800) adds all the options you would quite honestly expect from a Lexus out of the gate.

Serious Contenders? BMW 5 series, Lincoln MKZ, Infinity M

Appease the masses, maintain integrity, and don’t alienate your client base… all tall orders of business when redefining a brand and ushering in an era of change. What are you talking about? Lexus as we know it, my friend. We have watched a transformation over the past few years, from a quiet luxury brand to a legitimate German competitor (almost) as Lexus seeks to maintain your grandparents patronage and see millennials in the front seat with an L on the steering wheel.

The ES is on the tail end of the change, it’s current sixth generation design will soon enter into the history books and 2016 will bring a more modern style and aggressive look. Look to the sportier GS and updated IS for design cues and hints of the change to come.

The current ES 350 is a champion of luxury and practicality. I can give you all the dimensions down to the millimeter, but lets just say it is a standard size four door capable of a weekend golf trip or carting five adults (almost) comfortably. 

Under the hood, the powertrain is the same as the most powerful Toyota Camry. A well-designed and efficient 3.5-liter V6 capable of 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. All this power on a relatively light four door sedan equals impressive fuel economy with 31 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in the city. If you are shopping for greater economy and have some money to spare, the ES 300h pairs a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine with two electric motors for a total of 200 horsepower and a whopping 40 miles per gallon overall. With a price increase of $2,900 and a large efficiency increase, the equation works out to a 4.1 year payoff period. What does that mean for you? If you are planning to keep your ES for more than four years, I would plan on the hybrid option. Just keep in mind there is a little less trunk space due to the large batteries.

From the cabin I was struck by the simplicity of the gauges and center stack of instruments. All options and buttons were within easy reach and I had no real complaints or grumbles. All that being said, I really can’t wait to get my hands on the 2016 edition of this car, Lexus has been doing a stellar job improving the interiors and I expect nothing less in a few months.

Rear seat occupants will notice two improvements over the ES of the past… increased legroom and less noise. Both massive improvements over an already comfortable experience. With 4 inches more space for knees, feet, and whatever you have packed for lunch, the rear is capable of seating three adults, although the middle passenger may complain just a little.

Overall, the ES is an excellent addition to any garage, provided you don’t want to drag race on country roads or traverse small mountains any time in the near future. If you love the current design, head to the dealership fast. If you have a more modern flare to your life, wait a few months for next years edition.