Well, thank you, Lexus, for helping me lower my stress level this week in the refined and comforting confines of the 2017 Lexus ES 350. A sedan, or should I say, smooth operator, that cruises quietly and effortlessly down the highway as if to leave all your troubles behind.
The Lexus ES is the automaker's bread-and-butter entry-level luxury sedan that is far more traditional and practical than it is sporty. In fact, it's as far from sporty handling as you can get, which fits the bill for more than a few drivers. Why, if I had a dollar for every time I saw drove up next to one, I'd be valeting at a pricey restaurant right now.
Indeed, I certainly felt like one of the in-crowd this week driving around in the ES. It's undoubtedly a staple on the roads thanks to its go-to Toyota reliability, interior refinement, and entry-level luxury price point. One can only imagine what the next-generation all-new ES will bring to the table when it arrives in 2019.
The current generation 2017 ES is built on the Toyota Avalon platform. Sleek and sophisticated are the words that come to mind at first glance. It mostly forgoes the aggressive looks of the rest of the lineup, although it did adopt a larger spindle grille in 2016 which gives it a bigger road presence. It’s a pretty, uncomplicated, car that hits a home run in my tester's Silver Lining Metallic hue. Optional $800 18-inch high gloss finish wheels also give the exterior a little something extra.
The cabin is 100% Lexus. It’s well-appointed, comfy and spacious. My tester beckoned with an all-black Nuluxe faux-leather interior full of soft-touch materials and stitched accents. (Though I will warn you the black scuffed too easily for my taste.) My tester features wood trim that is part of an $8,500 Ultra Luxury package. The heated wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel tacks on an additional $450.
Standard ES features include push-button start/stop, dual zone climate, new rain-sensing wipers, moonroof, and 10-way power adjustable driver’s and passenger’s seats with lumbar support. If you spring for the Ultra Luxury wood trim package it also nets you driver and passenger side heated and ventilated memory seats, a driver's seat power cushion extender, sunshades, ambient lighting, power tilt and telescope steering wheel, a sizeable panorama glass roof, and power moonroof.
True to its softer, and less sporty, character, the ES has a 4.2-inch color TFT Multi-Information Display, not the LFA supercar-inspired retracting tachometer you find in the RX 350 F Sport and IS 350 F Sport. Overall, Lexus just does a great job I think of making everything easy to read, whether it’s the tachometer, driver’s information display, or the large graphics on the 8-inch color infotainment touchscreen. Lexus also does a fantastic job of protecting the screen from sun glare.
It goes without saying, the distracting and fussy Lexus Remote Touch Interface system is still around, but Lexus did throw in a new back button on the controller to make it somewhat more user-friendly. Steering-wheel-mounted controls are very easy to use, as per my normal experience in Lexus vehicles. Also, a Scout GPS link app is new for 2017. It connects to your smartphone to relay navigation maps and turn-by-turn directions on the ES's central display screen.
Lexus doesn't disappoint when it comes to premium audio. The Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound package ($2,590) nearly doubles the speakers from 8 to 15. The sound clarity is impressive.
There is no lack of space in the ES. It's generous both in the front and back seats. Cargo space in the trunk is ample. But note the rear seats don't fold down.
The ES is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that sends power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic. It churns out a respectable 268-horses and 248 lb-ft of torque. It delivers solid acceleration, but with its soft handling and featherlight steering, don't expect a sporty ride. You essentially glide down the highway in an impressively quiet and smooth fashion. There are three drive modes, Normal, Eco and Sport. The latter of which offers slightly heavier, more stable, steering, but again the ES is not the sedan for driving enthusiasts looking for an all-out engaged ride.
As for fuel economy, the 2017 ES 350 offers 24 MPG combined (as does the 2018 model) and I averaged 21.4 mpg in real-world driving.
The other big news for 2017 is on the safety front. The ES now comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ system with includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beam (IHB), and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist.
My tester also added Lexus Park Assist for $500 along with another $500 for Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
The MSRP came out to nearly $50,000 with the factory options, an attractive price point in the segment, especially considering the ES’s high resale value.
2017 Lexus ES 350
- What I liked most: The Silver Lining Metallic hue, well-appointed interior, wood-trimmed steering wheel, and easy-to-read tachometer and infotainment touchscreen.
- What I would change: Update the Lexus Remote Interface system so it's not as distracting to use.
- MSRP: Base price $38,900. As equipped $49,210.
- Fuel economy: 21 City /30 Highway / 24 Combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 5500 miles.
- Official Color: Silver Lining Metallic.
- Weight: 3,571 lbs.
- Length-width-height: 193.3 inches/ 71.7 inches/57.1 inches.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 17.2 gallons with filler on the driver's side.
- Towing capacity: N/A
- Spare Tire: Temporary spare.
- 2017 Lexus ES 350 in a few words: A hallmark of entry-level luxury.
- Warranty: 4-year 50,000 basic coverage with 24-hour roadside assistance/5-year 70,000 powertrain coverage, 6-year unlimited mileage corrosion.
- Final assembly location: Georgetown, Kentucky.
- Manufacturer’s website: