2021 Lexus ES 350 review: Sporty looks, but a cruiser at heart
Now in its seventh generation, the ES sedan is a proponent of the Lexus lineup. For 2021 there is something new, as well as the ES 350 F Sport Black Line you see here. But don’t be fooled by those aggro looks. Despite its sporty appearance, the ES 350 is above all a comfortable and welcoming cruiser.
- Sharp looks
- Spacious and comfortable interior
- Silent highway ride
I do not like
- Terrible infotainment system
- Not particularly fun to drive
- The rear seats do not fold down
Lexus will only sell 1,500 Black Line special editions, a package that adds $ 850 to the bottom line of an ES 350. The unique Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint looks fantastic, in contrast to the black mirror caps and spoiler lip. Lexus’ corporate grille is beautiful here, with its black finish and mesh insert. I also love the zigzag signal from the LED headlights and the crisp, crisp taillights, which lend character to the rear. All in all, this ES 350 is really cool.
The ES 350 is powered by a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 and its output of 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque is enough for this sedan. An eight-speed automatic transmission with smooth shifting is standard, reducing power via front-wheel drive.
Different driving modes are accessed on a small toggle on the right side of the instrument cluster. Sport S mode refines throttle mapping and transmission shift logic, while Sport S Plus takes things a little further, tightening the steering and stiffening the adaptive dampers. However, the ES 350 is hardly a sports sedan, which shows a lot of roll when cornering. The transmission is too eager to upshift and not downshift under braking, which means that even with its revamped shift pattern, it’s still slow to kick and deliver power.
On the other hand, driven easily and smoothly, the ES 350 is fantastic. This Lexus sedan filters out engine and road noise, but if you give it the beans the V6 makes a surprisingly abundant noise. The steering is pleasantly weighted and confident, with a quick ratio for a sharp turn. Overall though, the ES 350 is so damn comfortable. I could drive this thing for hours and hours.
The ES 350’s fuel economy is rather mediocre for the class, the EPA rates the sedan at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 31mpg on the highway and 25mpg combined. The six-cylinder examples of the Audi A6 and Genesis G80 aren’t as efficient, but theis do better.
The Lexus Safety System 2.0 suite of driver assistance technologies is standard on all trim levels. This package includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Traffic Sign Recognition. My F Sport tester adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning. During my tests, the forward collision warning sounds its alarm for no reason occasionally, and the lane-tracking technology has some niggles. However, adaptive cruise control works as expected, bringing the car to a full stop and maintaining a safe distance while following at high speed.
The technology that needs intervention is inside the cabin; Lexus’ Enform system continues to be a chore. An 8-inch multimedia display is standard, but I have the optional 12.3-inch screen with built-in navigation. This system does not have a touchscreen like. Instead, you’re forced to use that awful trackpad I’ve complained about for years, which is downright unpleasant to use, especially while driving. Also, Enform is poorly organized with many menus and submenus to navigate.
is they’re standard, at least, and there are plenty of places to charge your phone. There are two USB-A ports in each row of seats, and a wireless charging pad is optional.
Oh, and the ES’s backup camera is small, distorted, and blurry. Come on guys. It’s 2021.
This ES 350 tester is fully loaded with heated and cooled seats, and the entire interior is beautifully furnished with high levels of fit and finish. The center console is a bit small, as are the door pockets, but the trunk can hold 13.9 cubic feet of cargo, which is roughly the same as a BMW 5 Series. However, you can’t fold the rear seats down. , so don’t try to carry longer items.
The 2021 Lexus ES 350 starts at $ 41,025, including $ 1,025 for the destination, and the F Sport costs $ 5,800 more. With the Black Line package, built-in navigation, triple beam LED headlights, adaptive suspension and more, the test car you see here comes in at $ 54,070. Myself? I’d skip a bunch of options and still get a great example for around $ 47,000.
Despite the name, the ES 350 F Sport is not a sports sedan. But with its great looks, comfortable ride, and plenty of standard driver assistance technology, if you’re not looking for a thrilling ride, it’s definitely worth a look.