Sunday, September 13, 2020

Miscellany: 2015 Lexus ES350 review - The Granny Car

Mom's going to be a grandma soon, so it's fitting that her current vehicle is a Lexus ES350, a midsize sedan that's commonly associated with...well...grannies:

The ES350's sedate reputation is largely based on its driving dynamics, which are focused on luxury rather than sport. It starts with the engine - the car has the same 3.5L V6 found in Camrys and Avalons since 2006. Paired with a 6-speed auto, the engine is reliable, smooth, and runs on non-premium gas, but it isn't particularly powerful. The available 268 horsepower is peppy enough for most purposes, but I sometimes had trouble merging into traffic or passing trucks on the highway.

The ES350's handling is also so-so. I'd never expect a big front engine, front wheel-drive sedan to carve like my 328i, but the ES350's cornering borders on boaty and floaty, with pronounced understeer. The car also takes much longer to stop than I'm used to; once it picks up speed, you have to brake early if you want to avoid jerking to a halt. On the plus side, the ride is comfy, controlled, and perfect for cruising.

The Lexus interior is well-built and practical, for the most part. I didn't like the wood portions of the steering wheel, which get hot to the touch in Florida summers, but the leather on everything else works great. Even a midlevel trim ES350 like my Mom's had heated and ventilated seats, blindspot detection, parking assist, and a backup camera - all of which you have to pay big bucks for in 2015-era sedans from the Germans.

Overall practicality is good, as there's plenty of leg and shoulder room for even the rear passengers, and the car is festooned with cupholders and storage areas for everyone. The back seat does not fold down, but the large trunk makes it mostly a nonissue. While this is not a vehicle I'd buy, my family and I drove to Atlanta and back during quarantine with it, and we weren't at each other's throats despite spending 20 hours in the car. Perhaps Grandma really does know best.


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