2013 Lexus ES350 - Saluting the Sizable Sedate Set - Review

Lexus, Toyota's luxury division, is smart enough to leave well enough alone. Despite the recent trickle of more taught tuning from the LF-A supercar to the LS, GS and IS rear-drivers, there will be no F-sport coming to the front-drive ES full-size luxury sedan. Outselling the brand's other sedans by a margin of 5 to 1 (RX Crossover not included), there is a recognition that some discriminating driver out there appreciates a sedate commute. Especially when they are stuck in the muck for two hours.

With no more give of the Camry platform on the stretching rack,  engineers went to work on transforming the full-sized Toyota Avalon. Which begat a re-designed 2013 Lexus ES. Compared to it's predecessor, the new ES is has grown in virtually every measurable way: Wheelbase: 2"-inches; Height: 0.75+-inch; Cabin Volume: 5.5 cubic feet; Rear Legroom: 5.5"-inches in rear legroom to 40"; Trunk: 0.5 cu.ft. to 15.2.  Despite a staggering 908 page owner's manual and 423 page infotainment supplement, the ES managed to shed 60-pounds in the process. Officially a full-size car, the ES is the one of a handful that will suit, if not pamper, an adult in the back-seat mid-section.

"Drive...He Said" fastened the all-new-for-2013 Lexus ES350 onto the examination tarmac. Wearing its large sized duds better than ever. After more than two decades, the ES has been been imbued with immediately recognizable Lexus DNA on the outside. Beginning with a nose commenced on the last IS compact sports sedan, featuring the deep lower fascia, prominent hour-glass grille, and sharply swept-back light-assemblies. A high belt-line sits above sculpted doors and rocker-covers. The rear receives the GS' pachinko LED tail-lights. And a sportier lower rear valance has integrated twin split chrome set exhaust pipes.

Dickens Described it Best:

Inside the 2013 ES350 refined decadence is defined by elegant shapes and textures. Materials such as semi-aniline leathers and highly polished wood veneers are the creme-de-la-creme. Dials rotate with the precision of Zurich combination tumbler. Doors close like those on Diebold bank vaults. Compartment covers are hinged with the fluidity of Vermont maple syrup. No appointment was appointed to this cabin without careful deliberation from folks with impeccable taste. The level of quietude: let's just say, as in "A Christmas Carol" "... Twas The Night Before Christmas, when all through the house [Lexus ES350], not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Indeed, there is a [computer style] mouse for scrolling through menus and making selections on 7"-inch media/ infotainment screen. Suffering from a compulsion to recklessly text while driving? The ES350 displays received messages and permits a selection of scripted responses, hands-free.

Finding the Floatiness From Pop's Mid-70's Coupe De Ville:

With both IS and GS rear-drive models filling the sport sedan stable, the new ES takes over the demographic where the previous edition left off: a mature audience. Simply pour some root beer onto the float-defined front strut / rear strut indie-suspension. Ride compliance has reached new heights, this on 17" wheels trapped in 215/55 series Bridgestone Turanzas. No loose eggs will crack as the ES350 glides over crater and frost-heave. Planning an excursion through a winding canyon? Keep the Dramamine at the ready. Despite a pleasing to the touch leather and wood trimmed helm, excited inputs to the turning front wheels engender a benign reaction followed by over-reaction. The level of pitch in corners betrays a nose with 61% of the weight. A  revelation were the four-wheel disc brakes clamped down with some satisfying authority.

Let Sleeping Horses Lie:

Don't get us wrong. The Lexus ES 350 is not lacking for power. In all, 268-equines flowing through an as-refined-as-you-can-get 3.5-Liter dual overhead cam gasoline V6 engine endowed with direct injection and variable valve timing and lift. The 6-speed torque converter auto-gearbox transitions form gear-to-gear with the fluidity of molasses. It's also molasses slow to downshift in the name of fuel economy. Tall overdrive gearing requires heavy throttle application to get  most of the 248-lb-ft of twist. A standard active Eco-mode contributed to 24 miles on each gallon of regular petrol. Want an improvement? Step over to the ES300h gas-electric hybrid aisle.

Pockets Need Not Be Very Deep:

Our 2013 Lexus ES350 came with the goods: perforated leathers, HDD navigation; Lexus Enform mobile device app software; blind-spot warning; rear monitor; rear cross-traffic alert; park assist. At a price of $43,600 it only lacked intelligent cruise control, an unnecessary Mark Levinson hi-fi and self Guided Park Assistance, whose instructions likely consumed some 100 pages of the user manuals. The new ES is a tip of the hat to the sizable sedate set.

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