The 2014 Lexus ES 350 isn't afraid to try new things. Unlike its conservative predecessors, this rejuvenated ES cuts a modern, edgy figure. But does it still deliver the expected luxuries? You bet it does. Here are five reasons why the 2014 ES 350 is our favorite ES yet.
One look at this car and it's clear that bolder styling was a priority. The details are particularly daring in front, where the angular hourglass grille and chiseled fascia are sure to draw stares. Remember what the previous ES looked like? We've already forgotten. But the new ES announces its presence with authority.
The previous ES 350 actually came standard with a tape deck, but you'll have to go digital if you get the new one. In other words, leave your mix tapes at home, but do bring your iPod or USB music device, as these technologies are fully integrated into every 2014 ES 350. Many ES models will also have Lexus's Enform mobile app integration, which includes Pandora Internet radio. The Remote Touch Interface is another worthwhile extra, providing comprehensive access to infotainment functions with its unique mouse-like controller.
Powerful and Fuel-Efficient V6
Boasting a silky-smooth 268 horsepower and 31 miles per gallon on the highway -- 3 mpg better than last year -- the ES 350's world-class 3.5-liter V6 demands no compromises. Indeed, the ES is about as fast as, say, a Porsche 911 from the '80s, yet it's as fuel-efficient as a modern family sedan. Whether you're passing rapidly on a 2-lane highway or settling in for a long freeway haul, this lovely V6 never feels out of its element. No wonder Lotus uses it in the Evora exotic sports car.
Big Back Seat
Lexus has expanded the ES 350's wheelbase by almost 2 inches, and back-seat passengers are the main beneficiaries. The ES is now a bona fide full-size car in terms of passenger space, giving it a real advantage over the smaller European luxury sedans at this price point. Sure, you could get a Mercedes-Benz C-Class instead, but your full-size friends will thank you for choosing the Lexus every time they ride in back. Incidentally, the ES's corporate cousin, the Toyota Camry, rides on a shorter wheelbase -- so the ES's cabin is meaningfully larger than the Camry's for the first time ever.
A Ride Fit for Royalty
Many so-called luxury cars have been given stiff rides, in hopes that those magazines you see in airports would call them sporty. Well, Lexus knows what luxury shoppers want. The 2014 ES 350 may look aggressive, but it retains that quiet, buttery-smooth ride that has always set this model apart. This is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of car -- an ultra-refined cure for the common commute.
If you're looking for old-fashioned, fuss-free luxury, put the 2014 Lexus ES 350 on your shortlist.