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2010 Lexus ES Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Lexus ES was new.


Performance: 8.5

Lexus has carved out the ES's place clearly in an increasingly crowded upscale sedan market. This is the comfortable one, not the car that pretends to be headed for the track. You'll probably be content cruising quietly in the ES and feel no need to prove your car's muscles. But if you're not careful, you might find yourself getting a speeding ticket. The car's engine is so smooth that 30 and 90 don't feel very different.

  • “Soft, springy, and quiet, it’s what a Buick should be.” -- Car and Driver
  • “The ES 350 is designed to comfortably whisk you away from that long day at the office while drawing as little attention to itself as possible.” -- Edmunds
  • “Enthusiasts will want to stay far, far away, as will those that want their expensive car to be noticed. But those that are content to comfortably and quietly drift through traffic will find it to be more than agreeable.” -- Motor Trend
  • "The ES is a pleasure to drive, with more power than I'd ever need and a ride that literally glides over the road. Even potholes are barely noticeable." -- Mother Proof

Acceleration and Power

The ES is available with just one engine, a 3.5 liter V6 putting out 272 horsepower. It sends power through a six-speed automatic transmission, which can be shifted manually. Though reviewers often say that the ES is not as sporty as more performance-oriented upscale midsize cars, the Lexus doesn’t lack power. It offers particularly brisk acceleration between 50 and 75 mph -- just where power is needed for highway-speed passing. The EPA estimates that the ES delivers 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway.

  • “The V6 engine is civilized and offers a pleasing mix of power and fuel economy." -- Edmunds
  • "ES 350 scoots from a stop with satisfying strength. In Consumer Guide testing, an ES 350 did 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds. The transmission changes gears smoothly, but it can require lots of throttle to deliver a highway-speed downshift." -- Consumer Guide
  • “The engine is as smooth and quiet as you would expect, and the transmission operation is flawless, automatic or manual mode, downshift or upshift.” -- New Car Test Drive
  • “The 3694-lb Lexus can hardly be accused of being slow -- our tester posted a 6.5-second 0-60 time and a 14.9-second, 96.0-mph quarter mile.” -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

The ES doesn’t attempt to compete with canyon-carving sport sedans like the Audi A4 or Infiniti G37. That leads to some criticism from reviewers, who often conduct measured performance testing under track conditions and are impressed by the sportiest cars. But the ES has been one of the best-selling entry-level luxury cars in recent years, in part because of its soft, cushioned ride -- which smoothes out road imperfections to create a superbly comfortable commute. 

  • "ES 350 has competent front-drive behavior. But the ride-biased suspension tuning precludes the cornering poise of its sportier rivals. The steering filters out most road feel. Brake performance is good, though the pedal feels mushy in simulated panic stops." -- Consumer Guide
  • “Unimpressive handling and braking,” but “the isolated ride melts road imperfections away" -- Edmunds
  • “The front struts and multi-link rear suspension are both very well isolated from the rest of the car, making for a quiet, smooth ride, with greater control of pitch and body roll than in pre-2007 models. We'd like a little more steering feel in corners and on the highway, but otherwise the speed-related power steering is good and solid.” -- New Car Test Drive
  • “It is on freeways and suburban parkways where the ES works its magic. That same suspension softness that uses a loose definition of the word ‘handling’ also eats up bumps, potholes, and other irregularities.” -- Motor Trend

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