Lexus ES350 Review

Okay, so the Lexus ES was the butt of the joke in Audi's Super Bowl commercial "Chase" this weekend.

But that was a 90s ES. A lot has changed.

No, this is still not the car you'd want to take up autocross with, but the ES has grown well beyond its gussied-up Toyota Camry roots.

Buying an ES 350 now gets you 272 horsepower from a 3.5 liter, four-cam, 24-valve V6, a six-speed automatic transmission, dual exhausts, a four-wheel independent suspension with gas pressurized shocks and front and rear stabilizer bars.

Drive an ES and a Camry back to back now and you'll be convinced you're driving two different vehicles...and really, you are.

Beyond performance, the Lexus luxury quotient is in full force, making the $34,320 base price seem like a real bargain. Even loaded with options as the tester I drove was (including a $4,250 Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package), $41,340 seems within walking distance of reasonable for this car.

And then there's economy...thanks to the six-cylinder and six-speed, the EPA says the ES 350 is good for 19 city/27 highway miles per gallon.

If you're looking for luxury that whispers rather than shouts and brings its own types of economy (price and fuel economy) to the party, this is a good place to start.