2013 Lexus ES 350 Video Review
Most luxury cars under 40 grand are small and sporty. Not the Lexus ES. It's big and comfortable, and unlike past versions, it's now more stylish and better to drive.
It comes in only one trim level that costs about $36,000 and includes most of the luxury car basics. There's a massive options list, though. This one costs around $44,000 and includes things like a a navigation system, ventilated seats and an automated parking system.
It also has advanced safety features like a blind-spot monitor and a lane departure warning system. If those don't prevent a crash, at least the Insurance Institute gave the ES the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength crash tests.
The back seat is enormous for a luxury car in this price range; it's pretty much a full-size sedan. The trunk can hold a generous 15 cubic feet of stuff or these two really large red suitcases.
As for the rest of the cabin, it's more modern in terms of both appearance and functionality than past ES models. One of the reasons for this is the Remote Touch interface. Basically you use this mouse to move amongst all the different vehicle system icons on the main screen.
It's not a bad interface, but it's not our favorite, either. You end up looking at the screen too much and look how much space it takes up. Also, not everyone's tech savvy. Some people just want a simple button to change a radio station.
Past ES models were known for being pillowy and very disconnected to drive. This one isn't. You definitely feel more in control and the ride isn't as soft as you'd expect.
The 268-horsepower V6 has more than enough power and it's surprisingly responsive, especially in Sport mode. Of course, if you want to achieve the EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined, keep it in Eco mode.
Now, given its size and driving character, we'd suggest cross-shopping full-size sedans like the Buick LaCrosse and Hyundai Genesis. They may not have the same prestige associated with them, but you'll save some money and lose very little in the process. If you gotta have a luxury badge, check out the Acura TL and Lincoln MKZ since they?re the closest in size, price and character.
For more information on the Lexus ES and all its rivals, go to Edmunds.com