We have driven plenty of ES sedans, and can say they are certainly the best luxury ride in the Lexus fleet and among the better on the market. There are now three versions to pick from. First is the ES 250. It has a small economical engine rated at 203 horsepower. Next up is the ES 350 with 302 hp in a 3.5-liter V6. The third choice is our test ES 300h. It’s a hybrid with 215 hp. Claimed fuel economy is 43 city and 44 highway.

The base ES 250 starts about $41K. Our hybrid is loaded up with options, so it comes to $55K. We are stunned by the cost of optional LED headlights. Yes, they crank out plenty of light but are a whopping $1,515 extra. Charging $145 for door edge guards and $385 for a trunk mat seems rather tacky. These two items should be standard.

In any case, this is still a classy ride. It has excellent build quality, comfort, luxury, smooth ride, quiet, a peppy engine and is super reliable. In city driving we only saw 34 mpg, but on highway trips 43 was observed. The V6 car we had last year did 20/29 overall by comparison. Usually I don’t care for hybrid vehicles, but this is one I would buy.

For those seeking Lexus quality but needing an SUV, this RX 350 might work. Under the hood is that same 3.5-liter V6, rated at 295 hp using regular fuel. It is hooked to an eight-speed auto gearbox. Gas mileage is rated at 21/27 mpg if you get two-wheel drive as we have. All-wheel drive for better traction is available. We observed 30 mpg on the freeway and 23 in mixed driving.

The base fee is about $45K, but our option list had over $16K in extras. This time the LED headlights cost a healthy $1,975 more! When the total is done, we are looking at $62K. If you want all-wheel drive, figure about $2K more!

Once past the price tag, this RX is very pleasant to drive. A control knob has three drive modes: Eco, Normal or Sport. The ride is comfortable and great for long trips. There is enough ground clearance for taking on dirt trails.

The infotainment screen is huge and has excellent resolution. But it is operated by a clumsy finger touch pad that is a pain to use. Bring back the older stick control please! Other than that, this RX 350 is a nice addition to the ES series.

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Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.

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