In recent years, the Lexus ES has been, by far, the company's most popular passenger car. For 2004, the installation of a new 3.3-liter V-6 transformed the ES 300 sedan into the ES 330. The ES 300 and ES 330 have been geared toward providing a passenger experience closer to that of the company's more costly LS 430. Burled walnut wood decorates the interior, which can be equipped with an optional DVD-based navigation system and a Mark Levinson stereo.
Freshened styling for 2005 featured a grille with more horizontal bars, new wheels, larger fog lamps and revised headlights with projector low beams. Steering wheels gained integrated controls, and the optional navigation system got voice activation. For 2006, the ES 330 remains largely unchanged. XM or Sirius Satellite Radio becomes available, and new Society of Automotive Engineers testing standards bring horsepower down slightly, though there's no decrease in performance.
Sharp contour lines are evident up front, and chiseled character lines run down the bodyside panels. Optional high-intensity-discharge headlights are packaged with rain-sensing wipers.
Narrow body gaps add to the sedan's precision appearance. Riding a 107.1-inch wheelbase, the sedan measures 191.1 inches long overall. Aluminum-alloy wheels hold standard 16-inch tires, and a one-touch power moonroof is standard. An optional Adaptive Variable Suspension continuously changes shock absorber damping in response to road conditions, speed, steering, braking and vertical vehicle movement.
Five occupants should have ample space inside the ES 330. California walnut trim accents the center console and all four doors. Both front seats are power adjustable, and leather seat upholstery is standard.
Standard equipment includes auto-dimming heated power mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control with air filtration, one-touch up/down power windows, a cassette/CD stereo and a HomeLink programmable garage-door opener. A powered rear sunshade, power-adjustable pedals, a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, XM or Sirius Satellite Radio and a DVD-based navigation system with a three-position tilt screen are optional.
Under the Hood
A 218-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 produces 236 pounds-feet of torque and meets ULEV-II emissions standards. Those numbers are down slightly from the 2005 model's 225 hp and 240 pounds-feet of torque due to new SAE testing standards, though performance is identical. The engine teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission. The drive-by-wire throttle system was borrowed from the LS 430.
Antilock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, side-impact airbags for the front seats, and front and rear side curtain-type airbags are standard. All seating positions have three-point seat belts. Lexus' electronic stability system, which controls wheel slippage to help stabilize the vehicle, is optional. The system includes a brake assist feature that applies full braking force in emergency stops if the driver fails to apply sufficient pedal pressure.