Review: 2016 Lexus ES 350, Kentucky-Built Luxury
Quite often there are little changes between model years of vehicles, yet the 2016 Lexus ES 350 has a host of changes with probably the largest being a new production facility in the U.S. Yep, the Lexus flagship model is now American made.
Last October, the Georgetown, Kentucky plant – known for building the Camry – added the Lexus ES 350 to its production plans. Increasing production was a big ordeal with 2 and half years of renovation, $360 million toward the new dedicated assembly line and 750 new jobs to build 50,000 vehicles. This raises the plants overall production to 550,000 units. (Side note: we hope Toyota considers a similar investment in San Antonio).
Besides the Kentucky homecoming, Lexus made some fairly significant changes to the Lexus ES 350 for 2016.
For styling, Lexus changed up the vehicle with:
- Restyled with bolder, chrome-trimmed spindle grille, LED headlights, new front fascia, L-themed taillights, semi-integrated exhaust.
- Numerous exterior detail upgrades, including new wheel designs and exterior colors (Autumn Shimmer, Nightfall Mica, Caviar and Eminent White Pearl).
- New interior luxury features and finishes, including Linear Dark Mocha wood, Illustrious Piano Black wood (replaces Piano Black) and Bamboo with a matte finish (replaces gloss finish); Flaxen interior.
These improvements add to an already stylish vehicle. Plus, it is now available in four new colors including the Nightfall Mica color as pictured. This color is a dark blue and changes to a true blue during the day with what I swear is a shimmer effect. Lexus says these new colors all use “self-healing clear coat technology.”
Doing a quick internet search, I found this technology creates a “soft” clear coat finish which “flows” and can absorb small scratches. Note it takes longer to “heal” when the weather is cold, but it still absorb scratches. Pretty crazy.
The freshened design extends to new optional 17-inch alloy wheels.
Like other Toyota and Lexus models, they introduced a slew of safety features such as Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Also, the Lexus upgraded the Enform Service Connect system with vehicle information and alerts as well as made the Mark Levinson Premium Sound and Panoramic Roof as an option on all packages. Offering those packages as options throughout the lineup seems like a no-brainer to me.
Finally, Lexus says the front suspension now employs “opposite-wound coil springs” that enhance straight-line stability. As well as better high body rigidity through additional high-tensile strength, added bracing and more spot welds than previous models.
On the Road
All of these new additions are great and all, but how does it drive? Really, really good and it is clear why this model is the top selling model for Lexus. Off the line it is smooth, the braking is firm without grabbing tight, it glides through the corners and vibrations are minimized at highway speeds. This is a car you could drive for a long time and not feel tired.
In comparison, I just drove a 2016 BMW 340i and while not a direct competitor (the 4 series the BMW has more 0-60 straight line speed and can corner better than the Lexus ES 350, I prefer the overall driving performance of the Lexus. Why? The ES 350 is just smoother and easier to drive. Where the BMW is a bit peppy on the start/stop due to the twin-turbo V6, the 3.5L V6 in the Lexus mated to the 6-speed automatic provides a smoother shifting and off the line feeling. Sure, the BMW throws you back into your seat more than the Lexus, but after driving it for a few days, that gets a little old.
Also, the rear legroom in the Lexus ES 350 is great and my kids car seats fit without kicking the driver seat continually. (A big deal for parents).
Finally, the fuel economy is pretty good for a non-hybrid of 21/31/24 city/highway/combined and the $49,160 price point is fully loaded with a starting MSRP of $38,000 (hybrid starts at $40,920).
In the end, the 2016 Lexus ES 350 is just a joy to drive. If I was in the market for a luxury sedan and wanted a smooth ride that I could put thousands of miles on and not tire from, this would be a top choice. It is really that good.
Model: 2016 Lexus ES 350
Engine: 3.5L V6
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
HP/Torque: 268 HP/248 lb-ft
0-60: 7.1 seconds
- Blind Spot Monitor with Cross Traffic Alert – $500
- 18″ wheels with High Gloss Finish – $880
- Lexus Safety System + – $1,015
- Navigation System with Mark Levinson Stereo – $2,650
- One-Touch Power Trunk – $400
- Intuitive Parking Assist – $500
- Rain Sensing Wipers with Deicer – $155
- Ultra Luxury Package: Wood Trim Interior, Drive/Passenger Memory Seats, Heated + Ventilated Front Seats, Power Rear and Manual Door Sunshades, Driver Seat Power Cushion Extender, Ambient Lighting, Power tilt-and-telescoping Steering Wheel – $3,500
- Heated Wood and Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel – $450
- Cargo Net – $65
- Trunk Mat – $105
Price as Tested: $49,160 with $940 Delivery, Processing and Handling Fee
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com