Maintaining leadership in the luxury segment requires a relentless pursuit. Lexus, after giving the ES 350 significant enhancements for 2015, maintains its momentum by giving the 2016 ES 350 a makeover for the front, rear and wheels, and new safety, connectivity and multimedia technology.
The ES 350 serves as Lexus’ entry-level car in the luxury segment, combining flagship-type comfort with front-wheel drive traction. The ES 350 delivers strong and efficient performance from a standard 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to an ultra-smooth six-speed automatic transmission.
The current-generation ES 350 was already wearing the Lexus spindle grille, the brand’s signature design feature, and for 2016 it receives a more strongly styled, even bolder, one-piece version, framed by elegant satin chrome trim. New standard LED headlights give the ES 350 a steely stare at night. A fully redesigned front fascia puts the fog lights at the corners to accentuate the wide stance.
The 2016 ES 350 shows a more sophisticated look from the rear too, with distinctive L-themed taillights and new chrome-tipped rectangular exhaust ports peeking through a restyled rear fascia, as on the flagship LS. The freshened design extends to new optional 17-inch alloy wheels and four new exterior colors.
New safety system
Starting with 10 standard airbags, the 2016 Lexus ES 350 offers exemplary safety through its robust structure and a wide array of driver-assist technologies. For 2016, the new available Lexus Safety System+ Package combines Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam (IHB) and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control works at speeds over 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour). It tracks the speed of the vehicle traveling ahead and can adjust the speed setting accordingly to help maintain a preset distance. Should a vehicle enter or exit the lane or highway, the system responds with smooth acceleration and deceleration control.
The PCS can detect vehicles – and in certain conditions, pedestrians – by using a combination of millimeter-wave radar and a front-facing camera. The system can warn the driver of a possible collision and can initiate automatic braking with Brake Assist if necessary.
Using a camera to detect visible lane markings, Lane Departure Alert will convey audio-visual alerts and vibrate the steering wheel if the system determines that the driver unintentionally deviated from the lane. Lane Departure Alert, with Steering Assist enabled, can help the vehicle stay in the center of its lane by smoothly increasing steering torque a small amount to assist in maintaining course.
Also available on the ES 350 is Intelligent High Beam technology that senses headlights from oncoming traffic and also the taillights of the vehicle traveling in front, and automatically adjusts high- and low-beam illumination.
And yes, there’s even more driver-assist technology available. The optional Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) helps detect vehicles in side blind spots and alert the driver to rear cross traffic when backing out of a parking space.
Entry luxury defined
Lexus made numerous upgrades to the 2016 ES 350’s already comfortable cabin. New interior colors and color coordination, soft-touch materials are added to the console and silver-trimmed piano black door switch plates are among the details that give the interior a richer appearance. New trims for 2016 include: Linear Dark Mocha; Illustrious Piano Black (replaces Piano Black); and Bamboo with a matte finish (replaces gloss finish).
The new steering wheel has a sportier look and feel and allows the driver to easily view the large multi-information display that links to multimedia functions. A new shift knob with a leather boot echoes the shifter design in the Lexus IS.
The 2016 Lexus ES 350 defies the “entry” part of entry luxury, thanks to standard 10-way adjustable power front seats; automatic climate control; NuLuxe perforated upholstery; a power tilt-and-slide moonroof; power-adjustable outside mirrors with turn signals and defoggers; remote-linked power window and moonroof opening; and Lexus Personalized Settings to customize select electronic functions.
Premium, Luxury and Ultra Luxury Packages present a sensible tiered approach to adding optional amenities. For 2016, the latter two packages add wood trim on the center console and an improved “emboss” pattern on the seats. The optional Panoramic Roof is now available with all packages.
The best connections
Smartphones and tablets have made getting information and entertainment from the same source a given. The standard Display Audio system in the 2016 ES 350 follows suit, reinforced by the brand’s expanded Lexus Enform family of information and connectivity services for 2016.
Display Audio features a seven-inch screen and includes HD Radio, Bluetooth audio, automatic phone book transfer, a vehicle information display and complimentary traffic and weather data provided via HD Radio. You never need miss an old favorite on the radio with the cache feature – just pause it for up to 15 minutes, say, when you need to discuss the next destination with your rear passengers.
Putting numerous vehicle system controls at your fingertips, the available second-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) is the easiest way to access multimedia in the ES 350. The computer mouse-like controller on the center console can operate the climate control, audio system, phone, optional navigation system and more. Menus show in the Display Audio screen. For 2016, the RTI controller gets new, easier to use “enter” buttons on both sides.
iPhone users have yet another control option — Siri Eyes Free Mode. Make calls, select songs from iTunes, get turn-by-turn navigation through Apple maps and much more, all by asking Siri.
Whether you’ve gone all digital with an iPod or smartphone for music, or still tote around your CD collection, the standard eight-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System plays along. It gives you the choice of using an in-dash CD player, USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth audio streaming and HD Radio with iTunes tagging.
Once again, pinnacle audio performance in the Lexus ES 350 comes from the available Mark Levinson Premium Sound system. For 2016, it’s now available with any option package. Powering 15 speakers with 835-watts, the system turns the car into a private listening room. Borrowing from high-end home audio, Clari-Fi technology can enhance the sound of compressed digital audio (satellite radio, mobile streaming, mp3, etc.).