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2016 Lexus ES Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Lexus ES was new.


Performance: 7.6

Test drivers report that the Lexus ES' engine is refined and provides strong acceleration. Reviewers also like its plush highway ride and say it feels composed through turns, though it is far from sporty.

  • "The 2016 Lexus ES 350 delivers a refined driving experience bolstered by a V6 engine that's smooth and responsive." -- Edmunds
  • "On the road, the ES feels more responsive than ever, but that's not saying much. At heart, this Lexus remains a classic luxury car with a creamy, tranquil ride, and that's the way ES buyers like it. Frankly, we like it, too." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The enthusiast driver will find almost nothing to latch his soul to here." -- Motor Trend (2013)
  • "What we have here are a decent powertrain, wafty suspension and very little in the way of steering feel. Sounds like the old ES, doesn't it? Granted, we didn't think the new car would be light-years better than the model it replaces, but we definitely didn't expect it to feel almost exactly the same." -- Autoblog (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Lexus ES 350 has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 268 horsepower, and a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The EPA estimates that the ES gets 21/31 mpg city/highway, which is good for an upscale midsize car.

Auto writers are pleased with the Lexus ES' smooth powertrain, noting that its engine is refined and provides brisk acceleration on the highway. When driven in sport mode, a few reviewers say the transmission's strong shifts offer even more robust performance.

  • "Beyond their sophisticated road manners, both ES models provide excellent acceleration, with the gasoline-powered ES 350 reaching 60 mph in just over seven seconds. For those who occasionally like to push the limits, the ES' Sport mode makes transmission shifts more aggressive, providing better performance for passing and merging." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Its standard V6 engine purrs rather than growls, and does so at all speeds without a hint of coarseness." -- Edmunds
  • "Under the hood, the ES 350's tried-and-true V6 may just be a Camry transplant, but it's still a fantastic engine, ripping to redline with a velvety snarl when provoked." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The standard V-6 is a seasoned champ, frisky enough to serve in the Lotus Evora sports car. It's potent, smooth, and makes an aggressive yowl under a heavy foot." -- Motor Trend (2013)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers commend the 2016 Lexus ES 350 on its exceptionally comfortable and refined ride. Most test drivers agree that the ES feels fairly controlled through turns and exhibits little body roll, but isn't particularly nimble. While a few find the steering to be accurate, others note it offers little feedback.

  • "Ride quality is well mannered and refined, and while there's nothing overtly sporty about the ES, its steering is precise and the big sedan feels steady around turns." -- Edmunds
  • "Steering feel is...well, there isn't any. Though the ratio has been quickened for the new car … it's still glacial in response." -- Motor Trend (2013)
  • "Body roll is reasonably controlled, but the ES still places the emphasis on a comfortable ride." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "The suspension, however, isn't completely capable of handling what the V6 can throw down. It's easy to get the front wheels to chirp when pulling away from a stop (yes, even in Eco mode), and there's noticeable body roll, even during run-of-the-mill turning situations." -- Autoblog (2013)

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