This review originally appeared in the October edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin' News published out of Folsom, California – mg
Sacramento, California -- Sure, you want the Lexus. Lots of people do.
You want that wood-trimmed steering wheel, the silky smooth ride, high horsepower laid out like hot butter on a steaming roll, all the fancy comfort/convenience features, the treated-like-a-king routine when you take the car in for routine maintenance and those envious stares from your neighbors.
Who wouldn’t want that? But $50,000 is a high price to pay these days.
Unless you get the Lexus ES 350 sedan. You can get a 2010 ES 350 for less than $35,000 – remember, it’s that time of year to haggle big-time on the 2010 models – or get a 2011 model for just a few hundred bucks more if you’re a serious haggler. The 2011 is essentially unchanged from the 2010, except Lexus trimmed out the powertrain on the 2011 sedan to dish up just a few less horses and accept regular-grade gas.
Don’t ask me how. Just know this: Both model year ES 350s put out about 270 horses from a 3.5-liter V-6 that frankly feels more robust than that number would indicate. Handling? Puh-leeze, this is a bank-vault solid Lexus sedan that can be steered with one finger in almost all conditions.
OK, the exterior looks is pretty vanilla, but that understated ES 350 bodywork still oozes class, and once you’re belted into the cockpit seat, you start feeling pretty good about all the standard goodies within your reach. Even better, the center dash is not cluttered with small buttons to control your climate and on-the-roll entertainment. It’s all very easy to use, and again, laid out in a Lexus-level classy manner.
Be advised that you can opt for the Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package with 14 speakers, or the ventilated front seats, or the intuitive parking system that lets you know you’re about to ding that rusting, decades-old Datsun the boyfriend of your neighbor’s daughter parks behind your drive way every night. But those options will quickly send you into the $40,000-and-up range.
And if you’re heading that way, you might as well look at the opulent Lexus LS models.
However, if you want the tried-and-true Lexus luxury/engineering at an affordable price, the ES 350 is the way to go. It gives you pretty much the full Lexus experience, and by the way, it’s a super family travel car with a spacious trunk.
Customizers, if you dig in on this car, you want to make some major changes. Like I said, the ES 350 will not bowl you over with risk-taking styling. Let your creative juices flow when you chop into this baby.