About twenty-five years ago, Lexus was born as the luxury arm of the Toyota brand in the United States. The first car they introduced was an entry-level luxury sedan called the ES. It was heralded then as a top-shelf new entry in the luxury market. Fast forward a quarter century and you have the 2014 Lexus ES350, the latest rendition of that ES and one that continues to hold a high bar for the segment.
The 2014 ES350 introduces some standard upgrades for the line, including HID and LED lighting. Ventilated seating options are available with the leatherette upgrade and the ES350 has a beautiful bamboo interior trim as an option to the standard maple. Bamboo is featuring throughout the Lexus line this year and it’s beautiful.
Two things mark the 2014 Lexus ES350: a roomy backseat and an elegant road presence. Interior quality is excellent and road noise is light, making for a comfortable experience that justifies the higher price tag over the Avalon, which would be the Toyota nameplate’s closest offering. That base price is about $36,500 with our upgraded test drive ringing in at $45,920 all told. The ten grand difference was due to a series of technology and luxury upgrades.
Whatever the price tag, though, the interior of the ES350, from the driver’s perspective, is beautiful. You may recall our review of the Lexus ES 300h back in July. This ES350 is basically the same car without the hybrid underpinnings. The exterior has that same luxury saloon look with the beauty that this implies. The 2014 ES350 with the Ultra Luxury Package with the bamboo treatment makes a balance between the black and brushed nickel interior and light wood colors. It is lovely on the eyes.
The adjustable driving position, easy controls, and responsive throttle make for a good driving experience that is both luxurious and smoothly refined. Sure, the 3.5-liter V6 will not win races, but it puts out plenty of balanced power and never feels slack. The front-wheel drive is nicely balanced without a lot of understeer and the six-speed automatic transmission glides through gearing without fuss. Fuel economy is 24 mpg combined per the EPA.
On the road, the Lexus is quiet, responsive, and unobtrusive. You can get as much or as little input from the car as you wish by simply changing your driving position or the information screen in the cluster. Those who love to drive will note that the 2014 ES350 is a balanced machine with excellent handling characteristics for such a big sedan. Switching to Sport mode will give the driver’s driver even more steering input.
It should be noted that much of the luxury driving experience in the ES350 comes from the Ultra Luxury Package, a $3000 option. This adds a huge amount of upgrade to the base model, giving the 2014 ES350 bamboo treatments, driver and passenger seat memory, a panoramic sunroof, a powered rear and manual rear door shades, and a lot more. It’s a package that, if you’re buying a luxury car for the luxury, greatly adds to the appeal of the ES350.
The overall impression that the 2014 Lexus ES350 gives is one of solid elegance. It’s combination of quality and balance combines with its multiple drive characteristics to give a great overall package. For those not interested in the hybrid ES300h, the ES350 that was based upon is a good option.