2007 Lexus ES Performance
This performance review was written when the 2007 Lexus ES was new.
On balance, reviewers evaluating the Lexus ES find it a very quiet, comfortable and well-engineered vehicle, with a strong engine and smooth transmission. However, it should not be considered a sporty luxury vehicle. Car and Driver calls it "the automotive antidote to stress and road rage in one very convenient and comfortable package."
Still, CNET notes that the ES isn't performance oriented: "Although the 2007 Lexus ES 350 has ample power, performance enthusiasts won't care for the front-wheel drive and the smooth suspension." But in noting the quiet strength of the vehicle, Car.com adds, "The ES 350 is one of those cars that can play tricks with your senses; it's incredibly easy to find yourself driving much faster than you think you are."
The ES is the kind of car where even the driver can sit back and enjoy the ride, but that doesn't mean driving the ES 350 is not fun. Reviewers say competent cornering and handling that outshines other comfort luxury sedans like the Jaguar X-Type and the Volvo S60 make the ES a solid choice. At the same time, the smooth and quiet ride the ES offers is one of the things Lexus does best. Automobile Magazine writes that the ES is "either as smooth as an eel swimming through an oil slick or a lobbyist slipping a sweetheart provision into an appropriations bill - it's hard to say," while AutoMedia.com adds, "ride and handling have a cushioned feel that is tilted decidedly on the comfort side of the comfort/sport continuum and that's not intended as a negative."
Acceleration and Power
For 2007, Lexus has beefed up the engine in the front-wheel drive ES, offering as standard a 3.5 liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission that delivers 272 horsepower. Automobile Magazine reports that with the new engine, "The 0-to-60-mph time drops from a claimed 7.2 to 6.8 seconds, yet torque steer remains effectively muffled. Fuel economy also increases by 1 mpg." The EPA estimates that the ES delivers 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway. The increase in fuel economy over previous models is due in large part to high-tech engineering, writes TopSpeed.com: "The highly sophisticated engine uses electronically controlled sequential fuel injection, which optimizes the fuel mixture and creates a precise burn, higher output and lower emissions to aid drivability. The result is a substantial improvement in engine efficiency with increased power and improved fuel economy."
While the Lexus is certainly a quick vehicle, it does not focus its tuning on handling or sporty driving. "What this engine does best is flex its considerable muscle in a smooth, almost unassuming way, moving the sedan as swiftly as required without ruffling the passengers," writes the Family Car. At the same time, Car.com calls the ES 350's acceleration "brisk" and adds, the "V6 engine is perfectly suited for the car."
The combination of the V6 and the six-speed transmission is seen by most test drivers as a good one. Carbuytip.com states, "Quick to respond, the engine is as smooth and quiet as you would expect, and the transmission operation is flawless, automatic or manual mode, downshift or upshift. Engine and transmission are linked by several electronic modules and the electronic throttle, and there were no glitches we could find."
Handling and Braking
Though the 2007 Lexus ES 350 is a competent handler, it didn't show itself to be a sport sedan during reviewers' test drives. Instead, the ride is quiet and comfortable. "The four-wheel independent MacPherson strut-type suspension and gas pressurized shock absorbers help provide an exceptionally smooth ride," writes the Rocky Mount Telegram. All that smoothness comes at a price in cornering ability. Though the ES handles and steers better than some luxury sedans, it's not intended for sporty driving. "The car is soft in corners, but well controlled over bumpy, uneven road surfaces. It'll neither excite nor surprise, and except for some vague on-center steering feel, it won't make the spirited driver feel out of sorts," writes Motor Trend.
Front-wheel drive makes torque steer a concern, though most reviewers felt that average drivers wouldn't encounter it. "A suspension system consisting of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in the rear works in concert with a speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering assembly, as well as stability and traction control systems, to help the driver maintain control," reports Car.com, adding "it's only when fishing for limits, which few ES 350 owners are likely to often consider, that things get unsettled." When things do get unsettled, Electronic Stability Control and traction control step in to help keep the ES on the road.
The only complaint that some reviewers had about driving the ES were the brakes. USA TODAY sums up these problems well, saying the brakes are "too soft when you first apply the pedal. You think nothing's happening and push harder, resulting in more dramatic stops than you intended." The driver's assessment continues, "The first tap of the wide pedal still should bring vigorous results rather than leaving you wondering if the brakes are working right."
Though a number of reviewers report problems feeling how much pressure was needed in braking, the brakes themselves aren't a disappointment. "Although the brakes themselves are average in size for this class, the electronic control package that comes with them makes them very powerful and very repeatable, with no sign of brake fade after a hard workout," reports Carbuytip.com. Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, which applies braking pressure to wheels individually, combine to ensure competent and stable stopping power. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard.