2009 Lexus ES 350. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
Review and photos by Andrew McCredie
2009 Lexus ES 350
North Vancouver, British Columbia – It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the Lexus ES debuted as the Japanese luxury automaker’s entry-level sedan. Now in its fifth generation, the ES has maintained its long-held status as the top-selling Lexus model in North America by offering a true luxury sedan experience with a decidedly ordinary price tag.
Not surprisingly, the 2009 model doesn’t mess with that winning formula too much, with the only significant change from last year’s version being the addition of an optional DVD Navigation/Rear Camera package.
My tester was the base ES 350, and it’s a tribute to the ingenuity and production prowess of the Japanese automaker that the sticker price of this fine car is below 40 grand. (It should be noted that a fully loaded ES 350 with the Ultra Premium Package lists at just over $50,000.)
The ES started out life way back in 1989 with a Camry 2.5-litre V6 powerplant, hence the ES 250 designation of that first-generation front-wheel drive sedan. A couple of years later, a 3.0-litre V6 was dropped in the sedan to create the ES 300. Then, in 2007, the fifth generation arrived, boasting a 272-horsepower 3.5-litre, and the ES 350 was born.
That luxury sedan also marked a first for Lexus and its parent company Toyota: the mating of a six-speed automatic gearbox with front-wheel drive configuration.
Also new was a sleeker, more streamlined body designed in accordance with the tenets of Lexus’s emerging design philosophy, “L-finesse.” It was a marked improvement over the fourth generation’s body style, particularly in the nose and headlight departments.
The 2009 model retains the nice new body, although next year, the ES 350 is said to be undergoing a major reworking. There’s also some speculation that Lexus might drop the model entirely, instead of launching a sixth-generation ES. That would be a shame for those who want a luxury sedan without the pretension so often associated with the big, blinged-out four-doors flooding the marketplace.