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Lexus ES 350 continues being a top seller

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Lexus

It's tough to find many, if any faults with most Lexus vehicles. They traditionally have great curb appeal, possess terrific road manners, are super quiet, and the performance and comfort is highly regarded.

The 2014 Lexus ES350 certainly falls in that category. The ES model is Lexus' top-selling car for a reason.

For knowledgeable ES folks, an exterior change arrived with last year's redesign, the first one since 2007. The ES has sharper features, the styling borrowed from Lexus' signature hourglass-shaped grille, which Toyota's luxury division public relations department describes as a "spindle."

The 2014 ES, which is virtually unchanged from last year's model, is its being paired with the ES 300h, a gas-electric hybrid that was introduced a year ago.

Note that both the ES 350 and the 300h come in one trim model only. You either like them as is or you don't.

There has been no change in the ES 350 engine makeup; it's still a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. It's plenty quick, going 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which matches most of its competitors.

2014 Lexus ES 350

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V-6, 268 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 21-31 mpg
  • Estimated Price: $36,100
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 6 years/70,000 miles; corrosion 6 years/unlimited; roadside assistance 4 years/unlimited mileage; corrosion 6 year/unlimited

Although it has three alternatives, I had it in Eco mode and the ES 350 felt so good that I literally forgot to try the other two drive mode options - Sport and Normal.

The hybrid ES 300h is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that pairs with an electric motor for a combined 200 horsepower. The 300h is connected to a CVT transmission that some testers felt responded like an automatic.

Previously a luxury version of the Toyota Camry, the ES 350 now utilizes the Toyota Avalon's longer platform.

The ES 350 interior used to be a simplified cockpit. No longer. Last year it was replaced by one with more sophistication, and not surprisingly a more difficult learning curve with the controls. It features the Remote Touch electronic interface, which I think is too much of a distraction while driving.

The ES interior features leather and soft materials that make for a very appealing combination.

Driving the ES has never been considered sporty, and that hasn't changed despite the redesign. But the new Avalon suspension and some steering changes have improved the way the ES handles overall. The braking remains good and even at high speeds the ES provides a quiet ride.

Last year's redesign was a welcome change for the ES 350, which needed a little more modernization. The improvements keep the ES right where it has always resided as a great selection in the entry-level luxury midsize sedan field.


Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.