Few premium automotive brands generate the kind of diverse lineup that Lexus does. Rather than offer one entry-level luxury sedan, Lexus offers two. For buyers who place a high priority on comfort and luxury, there's the midsize, front-wheel-drive Lexus ES 350 sedan. Those desiring a harder-edged sport sedan can go with the compact, rear-drive IS series.
Today's Lexus ES 350 is the latest version of the company's long-running ES series, and like its predecessors it's roomy, quiet, comfortable and assembled with care. Lexus offers plenty of standard and optional upscale amenities for the ES 350.
Today's ES 350 bowed in 2013 and has seen only minor upgrades each year since. The current generation improves on previous models with an upgraded interior and a slight lean toward more performance compared to its more sedate predecessor. Still, an ES from almost any generation is a good buy. Interior comfort is first-rate and reliability is exceptional. Buyers seeking utmost refinement and relaxation in a luxury sedan are certain to find the same appeal and satisfaction in the current ES 350 as every ES sedan before it.
Current Lexus ES 350
Debuting as a 2013 model, the current-generation Lexus ES 350 maintains its familiar and successful formula as a well-crafted, well-equipped luxury sedan that emphasizes quiet, comfortable driving over athletic handling. Handsome style and a cabin with a modern, almost futuristic aesthetic keep the ES from disappearing into a sea of bland midsize appliance sedans.
Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 (268 horsepower, 248 pound-feet of torque) paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
The ES 350 is available in just one trim level. Standard feature highlights include 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, premium vinyl upholstery, a rearview camera, an 8-inch touchscreen media interface, Bluetooth phone and audio, Scout GPS Link (smartphone navigation), and an eight-speaker sound system.
Options are grouped into a few packages, but highlights include leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a power rear sunshade, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system, Remote Touch tech interface (mimics the movements of a computer mouse), a suite of smartphone app services (Enform Remote), and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
In reviews, we've found the ES 350 delivers a refined driving experience bolstered by its smooth and energetic V6 engine. Handling is more buttoned-down than models from the preceding generation, though this is still no sport sedan. The ES trademark is quiet transport for drivers ranging from harried commuters to road-tripping families.
Used Lexus ES 350 Models
The current-generation ES 350 debuted in 2013. To the eye, it's not that different from the preceding generation. The styling features slight tweaks and tucks borrowed from the sportier GS sedan, but otherwise stays true to the legacy design. The interior was a far more dramatic upgrade, however, as was a slight progression toward a more performance feel.
Minor additions for the 2014 models include xenon headlights and the Siri Eyes Free iPhone control system. The base premium vinyl seats with ventilation and bamboo interior trim were also made available. Changes for 2015 included upgraded leather upholstery, a standard touchscreen interface, an enhanced optional Mark Levinson audio system, the addition of Lexus Enform services (enabled remote smartphone app control of certain functions), and a limited special-edition called the Crafted Line. The latter offered an exclusive paint and interior scheme, and a two-piece set of Tumi luggage.
In 2016, the ES 350 received improved sound-deadening in the cabin, minor interior tweaks, and refreshed front and rear styling. Bi-LED headlights became an option, while a revised safety package included updated versions of Lexus' pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. An optional panoramic sunroof was also offered.
Produced from 2007 through 2012, the second-generation Lexus ES 350 didn't change much through the years, making low-mileage, well-kept examples top used-car choices. This generation shared its basic underpinnings and mechanicals with the 2007-'11 Toyota Camry. The ES 350 had different exterior and interior styling as well as more luxury features. Power was provided by a 3.5-liter V6 that generated 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque and put its power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment included a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, power front seats, leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control and wood trim. Popular options included a panoramic sunroof, a Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, a navigation system, adaptive xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control and heated and ventilated front seats.
In our reviews, our editors found this entry-level luxury sedan pleasant to drive. The V6 engine was smooth, and if you're not particularly interested in sporty dynamics, the ES 350's isolated and soft ride will be to your liking. Inside, materials quality and the overall level of opulence are impressive for this segment. For buyers seeking an affordable used luxury sedan, the ES 350 makes a great choice.
The previous generation of the ES, which ran from 2004 to 2006, was known as the ES 330, while 2002 and 2003 models were sold under the ES 300 name. Although they weren't as powerful as the ES 350, the 300 and 330 are fine choices for a used entry-level luxury sedan, thanks to their capable performance, serene cruising demeanor and high-quality cabin treatments. For any ES, reliability is typically well above average.