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The 2016 Lexus ES is a comfort-focused luxury sedan based on Toyota's Avalon architecture. The ES serves as a softer, more comfort-minded counterpoint to the performance-oriented IS and GS sport sedans in the Lexus lineup. Yet the ES family does a decent job of appeasing both the comfort-oriented luxury shoppers and the ones who expect a little more savvy and sophistication than the Lexus they're trading in. Serious driving enthusiasts will pass the on the ES, but for the vast majority of luxury shoppers, both the V-6 ES 350 or the ES 300h hybrid feel quick and responsive.
The ES has been the most conservatively styled Lexus, but it adds a bit of visual excitement for 2016. The spindle grille becomes far more prominent this year. It's bigger and features chrome trim. It has an hourglass shape that starts out wide, tapers into the bumper, then expands outward again below into the air dam. The front fascia is also new and more aggressive, and the front end now features LED headlights. At the back, the taillights take on an L theme, and the exhaust outlets are now trapezoidal instead of round. New wheel designs are also offered.
These changes, along with those made for the 2014 redesign, mean the ES is no longer an accessory to slab-sided boredom.
Just as it always has, the 2016 Lexus ES places comfort over performance on the priority list, and that's perfectly fine for most shoppers who might consider this roomy sedan. While it retains a relaxed driving demeanor, you might be surprised by how athletic this model has become when you really need it to hustle. The ride is firm enough to create a buttoned-down feel but not so much as to mess with comfort. Straight-line tracking is quite predictable, and the steering is nicely weighted and fairly quick. In total, the car has a surprisingly athletic, if not nimble, feel.
Lexus has also done an excellent job of isolating out noise from the wind, road, and engine (except for a little engine noise when accelerating in the 300h). That adds to the car's refinement.
Thanks to a longstanding reputation for plush interiors, quiet cabins, and silky rides, the 2016 Lexus ES sedan will be coveted for its interior comfort.
While the ES is a mid-size car on the outside, its wheelbase is that of a large car, and that really pays off in space for those in the back seat. It has enough leg room for adults to fit comfortably back there and is wide enough for three across, if you need it. Even the base ES comes with a 10-way power driver seat, while the available 12-way seat brings extendable lower cushions, a feature some of our long-legged editorial team would definitely opt for.
The ES 350 is a perfect 10 in refinement, but you do get a bit more engine noise in the ES 300h. If you drive the hybrid a hard or make a quick pass, the inline-4 tends to kick on with a raspy sound. We also noticed a little more whine from the electrical components in the hybrid than in other Lexus and Toyota hybrids; that's the one downside to making the rest of the ES 300h so darn quiet.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.