2018 Lexus ES 350

2018 Lexus ES 350 Review

The Lexus ES 350 is a paradigm of quiet, comfortable transportation.
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

While other manufacturers have branched out and built cars to satisfy the latest fads and trends, Lexus has not ignored shoppers simply searching for a roomy luxury sedan. The 2018 Lexus ES 350 is just that vehicle.

While the ES 350's pricing is similar to that of other entry-level luxury sedans, it offers more room and more features than the norm. Top-notch build quality, a smooth V6 and a plush ride continue to be ES hallmarks as well.

Having said that, the ES isn't a car to excite drivers. Handling is not on par with that of more nimble competitors. The ES also lags behind rivals in the infotainment category. But if you're mainly interested in getting a traditional luxury sedan experience that prioritizes interior space and a quiet cabin above all else, the 2018 ES 350 will be a great choice.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 is unchanged.

We recommend

The standard 2018 Lexus ES 350 has just about everything we'd want in an entry-level luxury sedan. It offers a great combination of features and value. But to really enjoy the experience, you'll probably want to get at least a few extras. We'd opt for the Luxury package (leather upholstery, plus heated and ventilated front seats) and blind-spot monitoring. You'd think the latter would be standard in a car like this, but it's not.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 sedan comes in a single trim level. While there are a few stand-alone options, buyers need only pick colors and packages. A 3.5-liter V6 engine (268 horsepower, 248 pound-feet of torque) sends its power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, LED headlights (low-beam setting only), automatic wipers, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, simulated leather upholstery and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Also standard is the Display Audio interface (includes an 8-inch touchscreen and multipurpose control knob), Bluetooth, Scout GPS Link (smartphone navigation), a USB port, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, Safety Connect emergency communications, a forward collision warning and mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a lane departure warning and intervention system.

Many options and packages are available, but there are certain package prerequisites, and availability can vary depending on where you live.

The Premier package adds driver-seat memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, wood trim, and heated and ventilated front seats. The Luxury package includes the above plus leather upholstery. The Ultra Luxury package adds the Premium and Luxury packages' equipment plus a panoramic sunroof, manual rear door sunshades, ambient interior lighting, a power driver-seat cushion extender and passenger-seat memory functions.

Other notable options include a navigation system, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a power rear window sunshade, a wood steering wheel (with heating, if desired), bi-LED headlights, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a power-opening trunk.



Trim tested

Edmunds has not yet driven a recent ES 350, but we have experience with its cousin, the ES 300h hybrid. While there are differences in the powertrain, comfort and utility sections, the following is our first take on what's significant about it and what you can expect from the ES 350.

Driving

The ES 350 delivers a comfortable driving experience, bolstered by a smooth and responsive V6. At highway speeds, the cabin is remarkably silent. Bumps and ruts are also nicely absorbed, although the extreme isolation results in a less engaging driving experience.

Comfort

In classic Lexus fashion, the ES exhibits a soft ride quality that diminishes or altogether neutralizes any jitteriness that poorly maintained roads can cause. In testing, we found the heating and cooling for the front seats to be oddly ineffective.

Interior

We had minor issues getting into and out of the car, but the ES is easy to live with. Highlights include fantastic outward visibility and a spacious cabin. One caveat: We haven't tested an example with the panoramic sunroof, which could impinge on headroom.

Utility

The standard ES 350 features a 15.2-cubic-foot trunk and a rear seat pass-through (but the rear seats don't fold down). Upfront storage areas for personal items are decently sized.

Technology

All the latest safety systems are here, but the ES stumbles on other tech fronts. You have to interface with Lexus' app to have access to certain features, and using the infotainment system's mouselike controller takes your concentration away from the road.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.