NEW FOR 2008:

– Premium Package adds Bluetooth capability
– Premium Package with Navigation adds Bluetooth, clearance and back-up sensors, navigation system with back-up camera, CD/DVD/cassette stereo
– Ultra Premium Package with Navigation adds clearance and back-up sensors
– New interior colour: Cashmere
– Exterior colours: Crystal White Pearl, Black Onyx and Blue Onyx Metallic deleted

For 2008, the Lexus ES 350, which was redesigned for 2007, returns virtually unchanged, with only minor additions to its option packages. The base price is unchanged from 2007.

Based on the Toyota Camry, the front-wheel drive ES 350 comes in a single trim line, and uses a 3.5-litre V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode.

Features include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack, heated leather seats, ten-way power adjustable driver and passenger seats, power locks with keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped wheel with power tilt and telescopic adjustment, pushbutton start, floor mats, water-repellent front door glass, power sunroof, variable intermittent wipers and fog lamps.

A $4,200 Premium Package adds wood steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth, rear seat side airbags, adjustable-length driver’s cushion, passenger seat memory, power rear window sunshade, rain-sensing wipers, and swivelling high intensity discharge headlamps. The $8,600 Premium Package with Navigation builds on that with CD/DVD/cassette stereo, clearance and back-up sensors, and navigation system with back-up camera, while the $12,450 Ultra Premium Package with Navigation further adds premium alloy wheels, Mark Levinson audio system, premium leather seating and panoramic sunroof.

While it shares the Camry’s envelope, the ES 350 offers Lexus-specific styling cues, suspension tuning, sound deadening and interior features more in line with the upscale nameplate. The ride is smooth and comfortable, but handling is still sharp and engine performance is good. If budget is a concern, test-drive both the loaded Camry and the base ES 350 to see which suits both your driving preferences and your wallet.

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