The Unassailable Choice: The 2017 Lexus ES350

Front 3/4 view of the 2017 Lexus ES350
The 2017 Lexus ES350
There are very few cars that one can buy and not take some criticism from one person or another. The Lexus ES350 is one of that very small group.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Lexus ES350
2017 Lexus ES350.
Shifting the ES350 from the Camry platform to that of the Avalon three years ago has given the ES350 the raw materials from which to become a true luxury car, albeit an entry-level one, as opposed to a gilded mid-size.

The base price has risen by $900 since the 2015 model we drove a year and a half ago, to a still-reasonable $38,900.  For that, you get a 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.  It is plenty fast and delivers good fuel economy---an EPA-estimated 21 city/30 highway.

In addition, there is a four-wheel independent suspension with gas-pressurized shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars, 17-inch aluminum-alloy split 10-spoke wheels, all-season tires, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, smart stop technology, Lexus Safety System with Pre-Collision System, pedestrian detection, high-speed dynamic radar cruise contro, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high-beam headlamps, smart access with pushbutton stop and start, three-mode suspension (Eco, Normal and Sport), Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect, automatic on/off LED low beam and halogen high beam headlamps with integrated fog lamps and LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing intermittent wipers with mist cycle and de-icer, 10-way driver and front passenger power seats with lumbar, electrochromic heated outside mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, a moonroof, and an eight-speaker premium audio system.

Again, that's for $38,900---or, put another way, only about $5,000 more than the price of an average new car.  Taken that way, the ES350 is a remarkable value.

Interior view of 2017 Lexus ES350
2017 Lexus ES350 interior.
The test vehicle we drove had options that raised that price a bit:

  • $500 for a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
  • $880 for 18-inch wheels with a high gloss finish.
  • $515 for LED low/bi-LED headlamps.
  • $210 for a power rear sunshade.
  • $1,670 for the Luxury Package (Embossed-stitch perforated leather-trimmed interior with wood trim and console, heated and ventilated front seats, power tilt and telescope steering wheel, Lexus memory system for the driver's seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel and remote keyless-entry memory)
  • $1,470 for the navigation system with color multimedia display, Lexus Enform Destinations and Lexus Enform app suite.
  • $400 for a one-touch power trunk.
  • $500 for intuitive parking assist
  • $450 for a heated wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel.
With $975 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price came to $46,470.  And that is still remarkable value for a well-equipped, utterly reliable automobile.  If there is a better, smarter choice in luxury cars, we can't think of it.