DEDICATED buyers dictated this saloon's comeback.
Removed from showrooms due to Lexus cutting right-hand drive availability, staunch supporters ensured its Australian resurrection.
Now it's back, and finding a home with those who want comfort, refinement and space.
While the line-up starts from $63,000 for the entry-level hybrid, we sampled the top-shelf V6-powered Sports Luxury which has a $74,000 sticker.
Space, space and more space.
The ES supposedly sits in the 'medium' genre due to its external dimensions, but it offers really 'large car' space.
Four adults can embrace lavish confines which reek of Japanese attention to detail.
Each of the four outer pews have seats with heating functions for your rear end (cooling too up front). A third adult can fit in the centre pew if required, but it's best to drop the armrest where they can access their own air-con controls and make use of the pop-out cup holders.
Head, leg and knee room is copious which makes for relaxing travel. The climate-controlled air-con even has moisturising properties so it doesn't dry the skin.
Leather surfaces are everywhere you look and touch. Especially eye-catching is the double-stitched dash and the 20.3cm colour screen which features the sat nav, stereo air-con, phone and media information.
All the vital operations are accessed via a mouse-style controller which does take some practice.
There are short cuts to the main operations on the dash, along with the air-con controls which are all straightforward and simple to find.
On the road
During its official launch last year we were impressed with the deathly hush and quiet driving manners.
With about 10,000km under its belt the test car was not quite as composed. Road noise is still unobtrusive but doesn't achieve the near-silence of our first experience.
Yet the ES is typically Lexus with a soft and polished ride.
This V6 is like slipping into an old pair of jeans. It's been around for a while, yet it does the job admirably.
When you stomp your right foot it pulls hard, and strong enough for some minor torque steer if you try hard, which provides peace of mind for safe overtaking.
Hammer into a bend with too much vigour and the ES feels its bulk, although no buyer in this realm is likely to be tackling a slalom course. The polished timber and leather steering wheel feels great in your hands and it all makes for a beautiful cruiser which encourages long journeys.
What do you get?
Unlike the Europeans, Lexus throws plenty of good gear at its models and there are limited optional extras.
All models have satellite navigation, blind spot monitor, sunroof, keyless entry with push button start, digital radio and leather-accented trim.
Our Sports Luxury model also gets tri-zone climate-controlled air-con, HID headlamps, a beautifully crisp-sounding 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system, heated and ventilated front seats, power boot lid, manual side sun shades, rear centre armrest-mounted controls and semi-aniline leather-accented interior. Safety incorporates 10 airbags, reversing camera, eight-head parking sonar, stability control, anti-lock brakes as standard, radar cruise control and a Pre-Collision Safety System which can help avoid an accident by applying additional braking pressure if an obstacle ahead is detected.
Given its internal space, the ES is really up against the BMW 5 Series (from $79,900), Infiniti Q50 (from $67,900), Audi A6 (from $77,900) and Mercedes-Benz E-Class (from $80,400).
Average fuel consumption should be just below 10 litres for every 100km, which is consistent with other modern six-cylinders.
Despite the fact there is no capped price servicing plan, Lexus is renowned for maintenance costs being much lower than the Europeans. Insurance too should be lower than other premium marques.
Boot space is a hefty 490 litres. We managed to fit in two kids' bikes and a couple of bags, while the space also made mincemeat of a weekly supermarket venture.
The rear seats don't fold though, which restricts loading flexibility.
There is easy access to the kids' seat anchorage points on the rear parcel shelf, along with two cup holders front and back.
The ES flies conservatively under the radar. Much like a well-fitted suit, it looks the part although it won't "wow" the crowd.
Staunch ES buyers will love everything about this fourth-generation model.
It delivers on the areas which matters most: space, comfort and prestige.
Lexus also rarely fails to meet customer expectations. Reliability and longevity of Lexus products is well-documented, and buyers know they get value for their premium dollar both in ongoing costs and standard specification.
The Lexus ES may not set the world on fire with flashy design or insane performance, but it does so many things so very well.
What matters most
What we liked: Internal dimensions, plush seats and overall comfort, large boot.
What we'd like to see: Split-fold rear seats, updated V6 engine.
Warranty and servicing: Four-year 100,000km warranty and complimentary membership of the Lexus Encore Program. Servicing is annually or 15,000km. First service is no charge.
Model: Lexus ES350.
Details: Four-door large luxury sedan.
Engines: 3.5-litre quad-cam V6 developing 204kW @ 6200rpm and 346Nm 4700rpm.
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 9.5L/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 7.4 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: Luxury $65,000, Sports Luxury $74,000 (as tested).
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