The 2015 Lexus ES 350 remains the standard-bearer for relaxed, luxuriously insulated transportation. The competition has narrowed the gap over the years, though, so it's hardly your only option for an entry-level luxury sedan.
This talented Lexus is a master at cosseting everyone within its doors. Its V6 engine is the epitome of refinement, delivering smooth acceleration unmarred by coarseness. Ride quality is similarly well-mannered and passengers are nestled in a bubble of comfort. This comfort is tempered with reasonably keen handling. Although it isn't one of those sport sedans, its reflexes are actually sharp enough to facilitate a certain measure of driver engagement, which can't be said of Lexus ES models of the past. There's ample interior room, especially for those in the rear, which isn't surprising given that this Lexus shares a platform with a full-size sedan, the Toyota Avalon. Topping things off is a cabin that hits all the right notes when it comes to deluxe elegance, with high-quality materials and exceptional craftsmanship.
2015 Lexus ES 350 configurations
The 2015 Lexus ES 350 is a midsize luxury sedan that seats five people. It comes in two trim levels: base and Crafted Line.
Standard equipment for the base ES 350 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, three-mode adjustable drive settings, xenon headlights, LED running lights, LED foglights, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with two-way adjustable lumbar), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, perforated "NuLuxe" (premium vinyl) upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera and Safety Connect emergency communications. Also standard is the Display Audio interface (includes a touchscreen and multipurpose control knob), Bluetooth phone and audio, Siri Eyes Free (iPhone voice control integration), and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack, and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Navigation package includes a larger 8-inch display screen, the Remote Touch mouselike electronics interface, a navigation system, voice controls, enhanced Bluetooth connectivity, text-to-speech functionality and the Enform suite of smartphone-connected apps and concierge services (including Lexus Enform Remote). A 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system can be added to the Navigation package.
The Premium package adds driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and wood trim. The Luxury package adds that equipment plus parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery and a power rear window sunshade.
The 2015 Lexus ES 350 gets upgraded upholstery and a standard touchscreen "Display Audio" tech interface. The optional Mark Levinson sound system now features technology that enhances the sound quality of digital music files. Furthermore, Lexus Enform Remote (which allows owners to remotely view and control certain features via an app) is now available and the optional Lexus Enform App Suite adds Slacker and upgrades to iHeartRadio 4.0. Finally, a limited-edition ES 350 called the Crafted Line has also been added to the lineup.
The 2015 Lexus ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard.
Every 2015 Lexus ES 350 comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side and side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Also included is a rearview camera and Lexus Safety Connect (automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location and an emergency assist button).
Optional equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, a lane-departure warning system and a blind-spot monitoring system that includes rear cross-traffic alert. The optional adaptive cruise control includes the pre-collision system, which primes the seatbelts and brakes when it senses an impending collision.
In Edmunds brake testing, the ES came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is around average.
In government crash testing, the ES 350 earned a perfect five-star rating for its overall performance, with five stars for total frontal-crash protection and side-crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the ES the highest possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design also rates "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
The 2015 Lexus ES 350 delivers a refined driving experience that's bolstered by a V6 engine that's smooth and responsive. At highway speeds, the cabin remains remarkably silent, mostly devoid of wind, road or engine noise. Bumps and ruts in the road are also nicely absorbed. However, don't expect complete isolation from road imperfections, as the current ES 350 is tuned to deliver more of a balance between out-and-out comfort and handling precision. Through turns, the steering is commendably accurate for a big sedan's. Still, the ES 350's Sport mode provides a welcome increase in steering effort, since the steering feels a little too light in "Normal" mode.
The 2015 Lexus ES 350's cabin is modern and stylish. The analog clock in the center of the dash is a classy touch that breaks up the otherwise high-tech environment. Of course, the richness of the materials varies depending on whether you opt for leather or stick with the standard perforated NuLuxe vinyl, but either way, build quality is excellent in typical Lexus fashion.
The climate controls are simple to use, but the audio system is a little more complicated due to the sheer number of available media types. This is true whether you get the standard Display Audio touchscreen/multipurpose knob controller, or the upgrade Lexus Remote Touch system included with the Navigation package. The latter is essentially a mouselike device that controls a cursor on a large centrally located screen. Although interacting with this interface is very similar to using a computer mouse, the ultra-sensitive nature of the controller can make it clumsy and distracting to use while driving. If tech features are important to you, we recommend playing around with Remote Touch before taking an ES 350 home.
Space is ample all around, and 6-footers will be quite content in the comfy front seats. Rear-seat legroom, in particular, is very impressive.The trunk offers 15.2 cubic feet of space, which is average for this class. The rear seats do not fold down, however, and only a pass-through is offered.
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Exterior: The exterior of this unit is in excellent shape with no major flaws.
Interior: The interior is in excellent condition.
Mechanical: This vehicle is "Insight Certified" with no known mechanical defects after completing a 144 point mechanical inspection with required maintenance performed.
Tires: The tires are in excellent health with plenty of tread life remaining.