2007 Lexus ES 350 Review – Please, No More Camry Comparisons

Saturday October 6th, 2007 at 10:1010 AM
Posted by: John G.

Overview Specs
Consumer Reviews Photo Gallery Video Review

by John G.

2007 Lexus ES 350

Up:

  • -Disturbingly smooth and pleasant driving experience
  • -Subtle yet strong styling, much improved over previous generations
  • -Very quiet interior, great sound system
  • -Strong motor and transmission perfectly set up for freeway duty
  • -Doesn’t feel like the “cheap” Lexus at all
  •  

    Down:

  • -This is not the car for pushing limits
  • -Visor and low roofline get in the face of tall drivers
  • -Computerized climate and navigation controls take a while to figure out
  •  

    Sideways:

  • -Luxury package is basically mandatory
  • Driving Impressions

    Lexus has come a long way from their humble beginnings as rebadged Camrys with leather interior and gold trim, firmly establishing themselves as legitimate competition for the classic German marques. If, like most of us, you’ve spent most of your time driving sub-$35K sedans or SUVs, you’ll find driving the fifth-generation ES 350 to be a subtle yet pleasant surprise.

    2007 Lexus ES 350There is absolutely nothing eye-catching about the ES 350. Your mind sort of says “Hmm, nice car” and slides off to daydreaming about that threesome with…ahem. And that is the point of the ES 350: it’s a car you never have to think about driving unless you want to. The doors unlock when you approach the car, the climate control keeps the interior temperature constant, the engine has more than enough power to accelerate and pass while being completely inaudible over the excellent stereo system, the suspension easily swallows the harshest pavement, and the steering wheel even gets out of your way to let you in and out. All in all, it’s perhaps the smoothest, most civilized driving experience you can have.

    Build

    The base price of the ES 350 is only about $33K – but buying a Lexus without leather seats seems faintly ridiculous, like wearing Chuck Taylors with a three-piece suit. The mandatory $5,380 Luxury Package includes all the things you expect from a luxury car, like blindingly bright HID headlamps, leather seats with integrated seat heaters and coolers, and nice-looking 17” wheels. In addition, our car had an excellent Mark Levinson designed audio system ($4K) and a collision warning system I didn’t get to test, plus all the standard features like a moonroof, automatic headlights, and power everything. Total sticker price on our test car was $46,045.

    2007 Lexus ES 350 - front dashboard 2007 Lexus ES 350 - steering wheel 2007 Lexus ES 350 - passenger seat

    For that sort of money you expect a different level of car. This being Lexus, you get it. Even the smallest piece of plastic interior trim feels completely immobile, like it’s made out of granite, and I suspect you could run a micrometer around the gaps between body panels without moving the dial.

    Trunk space is sufficient for multiple full-size golf bags, or even bodies if you can bend the knees before rigor mortis sets in. Neither rear seat folds away, but there is a pass-through for skis, which protects the armrest when opened. A full-size spare is included.

    Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

    The key to the Lexus ES 350, or any modern Lexus, is “relax and enjoy it”. Everything on the car is automatic, and I suspect it still bothers the Lexus engineers that the onboard navigation system can’t actually drive to your destination for you. The headlights and dashboard lights turn on by themselves in the dark – and in a feature that’s only taken auto manufacturers 100 years to figure out, turn off by themselves when you cut the engine and get out of the car. The ES 350 doesn’t just have a dome light: it has front and rear passenger seat lights, front and rear foot well lights, and even “puddle lights” under the mirrors that illuminate the area outside, below the door, so you can see what you’re about to step in as you enter or exit the car.

    2007 Lexus ES 350 - moonroof controls 2007 Lexus ES 350 - center console Lexus ES 350 - rear view mirror

    To use the climate control, it’s best not to mess with the computer at all, which is an exercise in frustration. Just leave everything on “automatic”, move the temperature readout up and down, and trust the computer to keep you comfortable. The seat coolers are great on hot days, though the feeling of having cold air blown up your butt is shockingly intimate at first. The onboard navigation system works well, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn the destination off, and the disembodied voice kept on telling me to turn around. Best just to leave it on map mode.

    Drivers too far over 6’ may have an insurmountable ergonomic problem with the ES 350. The low roofline put the sunshade right in my face, and I couldn’t see stoplights without craning my neck way forward.

    I have no idea who Mark Levinson is, but the stereo with his name on it is excellent. It pumps out clean sound at levels that vibrate all the mirrors into unusability. Combine that with the extremely quiet interior, and the cockpit becomes a comfortable and luxurious sound chamber.

    Performance

    2007 Lexus ES 350 - 3.5L 272 HP V6 engineThe ES 350 gets a displacement and power bump from last year, to 3.5L, 272 horsepower, and 254 pound-feet of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission lets you turn a sedate 2250 RPM at 80 MPH in 6th gear, and 95 MPH feels no more dramatic than 65.

    The drivetrain is perfectly tuned for freeway travel: the transmission kicks down very responsively when you need to slot yourself into a hole in a faster-moving lane, and flowing through heavy traffic feels almost like skiing. Flooring it, however, leaves an obvious delay as the car says to itself “Harrumph…well, if you must insist” before downshifting three gears. It then launches you forward with impressive authority and brio, though you feel faintly churlish for having asked it to do something so uncivilized. I never noticed the brakes, which means they must be good given the speeds with which I often found myself hurtling down offramps.

    There is a manumatic setting, but if you want to use it, you need to be driving the IS or GS.

    Handling

    My initial reaction was “This thing floats like a 1970’s Lincoln Continental,” and indeed, it has the pillowy-soft ride usually associated with expensive mattresses. Bad pavement simply disappears under the suspension. Despite this, performance exceeded my expectations: while the ES3 50 is no sports car, it copes well with twisties, swooping through smooth, stately arcs with surprising speed while a bewildering array of traction and braking assists correct any minor bobbles. The light steering, however, offers very little road feel.

    It’s a philosophical choice: instead of involving you closely with the driving experience, the ES 350 insulates you from it. You can drive it all day at 80% and arrive on time with perfect hair. If you want to feel the road and push the limits, buy a sports car.

    Styling and Exterior

    The ES 350 isn’t a car you notice at first glance. Our test vehicle was a beige sedan with beige interior, which is basically invisible in traffic or a parking lot. You have to force yourself to look harder.

    2007 Lexus ES 350

    When you do, it’s a pleasant surprise, like realizing that your high school librarian moonlights as a fitness model. The new ES 350 has a longer and wider wheelbase than its predecessor while maintaining the same exterior size. Combined with a higher hood and trunk line, this gives it a more aggressive stance (Lexus uses the word “confident”) than previous Lexii.

    It’s still not a car you will be noticed in, but the lines are pleasing to the eye. To me, it’s the first Lexus that really says “luxury marque.” Well done.

    Value and Conclusion

    Upon starting my test drive, I wasn’t immediately blown away by the ES 350. However, I soon found myself taking a much longer route home than I anticipated, because driving it was so effortless.

    Lexus has provided a quiet oasis of calm for the driver: heavy traffic, bad pavement, and searing heat become distant annoyances that barely register over the crisp, clear audio system. The surprising thing is how little performance they’ve sacrificed to get you there. Add to that a price affordable to non-CEOs and styling that finally justifies the premium over a V6 Camry, and you no longer have to justify your purchase to Mercedes owners with “but it’s reliable.”

    Build 5.0 - Lexus sets the standard for build quality

    Interior 4 - It’s a 4.5 unless you’re tall

    Performance 4.5 - The new motor is excellent

    Handling 4.0 - Great for its intended purpose, but not agile or sporty

    Styling 4.5 - Finally Lexus gets it right

    Value 4.5 - An honest luxury car for under $40K? Yes, please

    Overall 4.4/A- Strong to quite strong. Well done, Lexus

    Build

    Interior

    Performance

    Handling

    Styling

    Value

    Overall

    Rating

    5.0

    4.0

    4.5

    4.0

    4.5

    4.5

    4.4/A-

    Who Should Buy It

    Anyone who spends a lot of time in their car and is under 6’2”. If you have to do a lot of driving, this is absolutely the easiest and most painless way to do it.

    ###

    >> Want more? We also have a video review of the Lexus ES 350

    Read what other consumers are saying about the ES 350 or submit your own review

    View all of the Lexus ES 350 pictures in the photo gallery

    Official site for information on Lexus luxury cars, sports sedans, utility vehicles, and hybrids: www.lexus.com

     

    4 Responses to 2007 Lexus ES 350 Review – Please, No More Camry Comparisons

    1. OZZY says:

      A soild review, however I notice that on this model when flooring the accelerator the vehicle is unable to handle the sudden surge of power. But indeed, this car is one of the most comfortable I have ever driven yet it also has the engine to keep up with fast cars. It ranks highly on safety standards. It is spacious, and the backseat has ample space for a mid-size. Seat warmers are great, sound system is good and above all this car is smooth just as a Lexus should be. I test drove the IS250 immediately before deciding to purchase this car, the extra space really trumped the pilot cockpit-like feel of the IS 250.

    2. Cordarro says:

      I’ve seen some nice cars but this is the first time I’ve every seen one this nice. This car comes with all the features you every dream of having in a car and it all comes from Lexus. The first car that I will every purchase will be the 2007 Lexus ES 350 Ultra Luxury Package. This car was design to fit me :)

    3. Derek says:

      John is an avid mtn biker, skier, and active advocate that lobbies for sharing the trails in the San Francisco bay area. Finding an eloquent writer to help me review cars in his spare time for CarReview.com was a huge find. Unfortunately, John gave up on crowded bay area and moved to the Lake Tahoe area in the Sierras. It was a sad moment for me losing a good writer.

    4. Michelle says:

      Who is this reviewer? Bravo. Everything I needed to know about my new Lexus before I signed the lease, yet very very entertaining! Lmao @ 3-some, I love your writing style, keep up the awesome work. Although I do disagree this car is not flashy enough, if you get just the right color (black or white I still haven’t decided)and put a beautiful set of classy rims on it, like I’ve ordered, you will definitely stand out.

      THanks again,
      Michelle





    Latest Reviews



    Select a Category