KONA, Hawaii -- The 2007 Lexus ES 350 lands in dealerships in April, packing an impressive array of technology for a near-luxury car.
Even the motor mounts, a common off-the-shelf item for most automakers, are high-tech. The mounts have electronic solenoids that reduce vibration when the engine is started.
The sedan is part of Lexus' two-model strategy in the $30,000-to-$40,000 segment. Lexus has not announced prices.
Last fall Lexus launched the rear-wheel-drive IS 250 and IS 350 performance sedans to compete with the BMW 3 series, Cadillac CTS, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C class.
The front-wheel-drive ES 350, which replaces the ES 330, is a softer, smoother, quieter sedan aimed at an older crowd than the IS. Though the car is based on the underpinnings of the Toyota Avalon, the ES 350's styling has a family resemblance to other Lexus sedans. The powertrain, interior and suspension tuning are unique to the ES 350.
Lexus Group Vice President Bob Carter said the ES 350 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph faster than the 1990 LS 400. The LS 400 was Lexus' original V-8-powered flagship.
Carter, who spoke at a press event here, also said the ES is quieter and has nearly the same interior room as the old LS 400.
The ES 350 was unveiled last week at the Chicago Auto Show.
Some of the ES 350's technical highlights:
- A six-speed automatic transmission, a first for a front-wheel-drive car from Toyota.
- New noise-reducing front and rear suspension subframes made from stamped steel instead of cast steel.
- A 272-hp, aluminum, 3.5-liter V-6 that has variable valve timing, delivers 0-to-60-mph performance in less than seven seconds and gets an estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
- Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, plus stability and traction control.
Optional equipment includes a three-panel glass roof, radar-based adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a parking-assist system that warns the driver when the car gets too close to an object.
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