With a makeover expected on the way for 2007, the Lexus ES 330 is unchanged for 2006.

Based on the Toyota Camry, the ES 330 is powered by a 3.3-litre V6 that’s mated to a five-speed Super ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission), which manages shift decisions based on engine speed and load for smooth shifts on inclines, and adjusts for the slight wear on parts that occurs over time, to keep the transmission shifting properly over the vehicle’s lifespan. The V6 includes Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) and Electronic Throttle Control System with Intelligence (ETCS-i), and is certified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV).

Features include 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, CD/cassette with seven speakers and wheel-mounted controls, heated and ventilated leather seats with ten-way driver and eight-way power passenger seats with memory, auto up/down on all windows, power locks, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob, woodgrain trim, water-repellent front door glass, auto-dimming heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, projector-style halogen headlamps with light control system, fog lamps and anti-theft system with engine immobilizer.

Available options are an Appearance Package, including adjustable pedals, six-CD changer, 17-inch wheels and power sunroof; Luxury Package, including traction and stability control and high-intensity discharge lights; Premium Package, with upgraded stereo, rear window sunshade and adaptive variable suspension; and a navigation package.

The roominess, responsive handling, smooth ride and top-notch quality that make Toyota Camry such a popular car are also part of the Lexus version. Still, it’s unmistakably Camry-based, and as nice as it is, there’s a $6,605 difference between the most expensive Camry and the least expensive ES 330, so test-drive and compare features on both.

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