March 2012

Vehicle Profile: The 2012 Lexus ES

Pampering its occupants is the basic mission of any luxury sedan. Along the way, it’s nice to have a little curb appeal, a welcoming, easy-to-use interior, good performance and safety and to do it all without breaking the bank at the pump. It’s a lot of balls to juggle, but to the 2012 Lexus ES 350 Sedan, it’s old hat. It has been juggling all those balls one-handed for years and continues to improve every single year.
 
A standard-bearer for traditional luxury
 
Few cars are as innately welcoming as the Lexus ES 350 (MSRP $36,725). Beginning with its classy, understated exterior style and extending to a logically arranged, lavishly appointed interior, the ES 350 is more than just a mere conveyance; it’s a place where you want to be, whether in the driver’s seat or as a comfortable passenger.
 
The first thing you notice in the ES 350 is how quiet it is, a result of excellent cabin insulation and the fact that the attractive exterior’s aerodynamics help reduce wind noise naturally. The peaceful cabin also includes leather seats and steering wheel trim, SmartAccess keyless entry and push button start, a moonroof and even illuminated cupholders, a welcome addition during night driving, as standard equipment.
 
Every ES 350 Sedan also features a standard Lexus Premium Audio System with a six-CD in-dash changer, auxiliary and USB jacks (the latter with iPod compatibility), Bluetooth streaming audio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
 
Premium features abound
 
Drivers can further enhance the 2012 Lexus ES 350 with any number of lavish upgrades. The available Navigation System/Mark Levinson Package adds a touch-screen HDD navigation system, voice command, a back-up camera, NavTraffic, NavWeather, sports scores, a stock ticker and a full telematics package that includes Lexus Enform with Destination Assist, eDestination and Safety Connect. The audio system is upgraded to 14 speakers and 7.1-channel surround with 300 watts of power output. DVD playback is supported and, if you’re parked, you can watch a movie right on the screen normally used for navigation. Don’t be afraid to crank up the volume, either, as the Mark Levinson system has just 0.1 percent Total Harmonic Distortion.
 
The available Ultra Luxury Package brings in the proverbial kitchen sink, adding upgraded leather, double contrast stitching for the seats, door-panel trim and center console, a panoramic glass roof, a power rear sunshade, wood-trimmed interior accents and High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with the Adaptive Front Lighting system, as well as special wheels to set off the look.
Other available upgrades include climate-controlled (heated and cooled) front seats and the Intuitive Parking Assist system.
 
Special Edition ES 350 for 2012
 
The limited-production 2012 Lexus ES 350 Touring Special Edition has exclusive interior styling and includes many of the premium features discussed above as standard equipment including navigation, wood trim and heated/ventilated front seats. The Touring Edition is also finished in one of two paint colors – Stargazer Black or Starfire Pearl – and wears 17-inch, Liquid Graphite Finish 10-spoke alloy wheels.
 
Reliable performance
 
All 2012 Lexus ES 350 models are front-wheel drive and are powered by a silky smooth, 268-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine with 248 lb/ft of torque and dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). The V6 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature. Tuned to run on Regular gasoline (a big help, especially with today’s fuel prices), the ES 350 returns impressive EPA fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
 
Safety never overlooked
 
As impressive as its roster of convenience and luxury features is, the ES 350 safety features lineup is equally so. With 10 standard airbags, anti-lock brakes and Smart Stop Technology (a brake override system), the ES 350 is well-equipped for the unforeseen. The Safety Connect telematics feature includes Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance and GPS-aided Enhanced Roadside Assistance.
 
The available Pre-Collision System (PCS) includes Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which helps maintain a preset distance from the vehicle ahead while driving and can also help the PCS determine whether a collision is imminent. If that is the case, the system automatically retracts the front seatbelts and primes the Brake Assist system to help maximize braking power when the driver applies the brakes. If all warnings from the PCS go unheeded by the driver, Active Braking can intervene and apply the brakes automatically.
 
No compromises
 
Attractive, efficient, athletic and well equipped, the 2012 Lexus ES 350 is the prototypical luxury sedan. It does its job quietly, gracefully and with a lot of class.


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