Considering a luxury ride? Cars are now taking the back seat. Not only have trucks assumed the lead in sales, but the costs have jumped up; now, personal luxury trucks can cost over $80K. And keep this in mind: In many areas of the country driving a luxury truck commands the same respect as a luxury sedan. And many cars, trucks and SUVs now offer all the creature comforts that were once reserved for luxury vehicles.
Earlier this year I drove Toyota’s 2018 Avalon at the TAWA (Texas Auto Writers Association) Car Challenge, and I wanted to compare it to the new 2018 ES 350. While the new Avalon is a great car, and many things are common to the ES platform, it did not have the same feeling as the ES 350. Drivability was not vastly different between the two, but when it came to luxury the ES 350 jumps out. No matter which one you choose you will definitely be pleased with your purchase.
Here are some of the great features on the 2018 ES 350 I drove. Studies have shown that captivating style can be 70% of the decision-making process. The ES 350 is both contemporary and sophisticated, and yes, it has its own styling. It’s very different from other sedans on the market. Unparalleled refinement over previous models goes beyond conventional materials, with greater detail in the interior. Those include world-class materials, from the bird’s eye maple accents and hand selected wood finishes to the handcrafted leather seating, including accent features. Beyond the material and design is the technology – the ES is the most technologically advanced entry-level Lexus ever, while still being easy to operate.
Peace-of-mind standard features include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering wheel assist, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control and intelligent high beam headlamps. Performance comes from two engines. One is a 268 horsepower gas V-6, offering 3.5L of displacement. It drives the front-wheels through a 6-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission.
Performance with the 3.5 liter V6 is appropriate to the segment, with 0-60 mph taking 7.1 seconds, while EPA estimated miles per gallon is 20 city, 29 highway and 23 combined. The ES 300h (hybrid) touts 200 total horsepower with an inline 4-cylinder Atkinson engine. The 2.5L powertrain is mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission and goes from 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds. It achieves 39 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway and 40 mpg combined.
Options are many, but the Navigation/Mark Levinson audio system™ is a must for an outlay of $2,615. Another package that includes tons of goodies is the Ultra-Luxury package at $3,500.00. This includes heated and ventilated seats, wood interior trim, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, memory seat settings and panoramic glass power moonroof.
This is well-rounded, medium-price luxury that tops out at $49,265.00. And with the brand’s historically high residual values, leasing is both viable and – in many households – affordable.