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2012 Lexus ES 350 is ready to drive

The 2012 Lexus ES 350 delivers power, performance and elegance. It is equipped with an aluminum 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. torque at 4700 rpm.

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Although the price of the 2012 Lexus ES 350 has not been announced, expect the price to be in the mid-$30,000s, since the 2011 model has sold for base prices ranging from $33,000 to $37,000, depending on how the car is equipped.

Now that you know about the power, let's get to the good stuff. The standard Lexus Premium Audio system includes an in-dash, 6-disc CD changer, iPod / USB connectivity, Bluetooth and an integrated SirusXM Satellite Radio receiver. When connected to the USB port, the iPod can be controlled through the audio system or steering wheel controls.

But you're not limited to the standard music system. The optional Mark Levinson Premium Audio System uses 10 channels of amplification with 300 watts total output at only 0.1 percent Total Harmonic Distortion. The system plays through 14 speakers in a 7.1-channel surround sound speaker architecture. It can play conventional CDs and DVDs and MP3-formatted CDs. DVD movies can be viewed on the navigation system's color 7-inch touch screen when the parking brake is engaged.

Standard features include a moonroof, 10-way power adjustable front seats, leather-trimmed seats in three colors and a multi-information display. The display's main feature is a trip computer that provides outside temperature, driving range, fuel consumption and average speed readouts. The display also includes an oil maintenance reminder and system warnings.

There also is a standard dual-zone automatic climate control system and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The wheel integrates controls for the audio system and a trip computer. Heated mirrors help melt away morning fog or frost, while rain-sensing wipers keep the windshield clear in inclement weather.

The 2012 350 gets 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28 highway. New for 2012 is the Nebula Gray Pearl exterior, which replaces Smoky Granite Mica. The Peridot Mica color has been discontinued.

The ES 350 has a quiet ride and a 0.28 coefficient of drag that holds down wind noise. Standard 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels carry 215/55R17 all-season tires.

Standard Vehicle Stability Control with traction control system integrates the anti-lock braking system, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and the Brake Assist safety feature. The car also is equipped with 10 airbags, including dual-stage front airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags.

The optional dual-swivel Lexus Adaptive Front Lighting System helps illuminate a turn or curve as the driver steers into it.

The SmartAccess keyless entry and push-to-start ignition system allows the driver to enter and start the car without needing to remove the access fob from pocket or purse. The system adjusts the seats, mirrors and steering wheel based on the key fob. Tthe Lexus Memory System feature allows the driver to tailor vehicle preferences, including lighting, power windows and moonroof, steering wheel and door lock control.

Standalone options include heated and ventilated front seats and Intuitive Park Assist, which uses ultrasonic sensors to detect objects close to the car's front and rear bumpers.

The Ultra Luxury Package includes a panorama glass roof; perforated semi-aniline leather-trimmed seating; double-contrast stitching for the seats, console and door trim; power rear sunshade; passenger memory; the HID/AFS lighting system; and a wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob. Exclusive Liquid Graphite-finish 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels are available. Vehicles with the Ultra Luxury Package also have an exclusive Black and Saddle interior.

The available touch-screen Lexus Navigation System with rear back-up camera allows the driver to enter a destination using the updated Voice Command casual-language voice recognition. The system integrates control for the Lexus Personalized Settings feature and adds Bluetooth phonebook download.

The ES 350’s elegance is reflected in its distinct front fascia that features arrowhead-shaped headlamps, integrated fog lamps, and chrome grille and grille surround. Chrome body-side molding underscores the car’s refined character. The arrowhead shaped design motif is also echoed in the large tail lamps.

Built on a 109.3-inch wheelbase, the midsize ES 350 provides a roomy and inviting interior. There are bright, clear Optitron gauges and premium wood.

The ES 350 has a 48-month / 50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months.

You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] or (248) 747-1550. Follow him on Twitter: @HawkeFracassa.

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