Premium midsize car; Built in
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $23,600 – $33,900*


2013 Lexus ES 350


2013 Lexus ES 350


2013 Lexus ES 300h


2013 Lexus ES 350

Pros:
  • Interior materials
  • Quietness
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Handling/roadholding

Lexus has improved its best-selling car in a number of ways. Though not a performance car by any stretch of the imagination, this ES is more entertaining to drive than its predecessor. Yet it retains the coddling comfort that has made the car such a favorite. Improved rear-seat room means that everyone aboard can enjoy what the ES has to offer, and the ES 300h gas/electric hybrid is a welcome addition to the lineup. If outright performance isn’t high on your automotive wishlist, this Lexus is a fine executive vehicle.

Overview

The ES was the best-selling car from Toyota’s luxury division. Offered only as a 4-door sedan, the ES slotted between the smaller IS 250 and larger GS 350 sedans in Lexus’ model lineup. The 2013 ES was redesigned with new styling, new features, a 1.8-inch-longer wheelbase, and the addition of a gas/electric Hybrid model. The hybrid was called the Lexus ES 300h. The traditional gas-powered model retained the ES 350 name.

Competitors for the ES 350 included other front-wheel-drive-based premium sedans including the Acura TL, Lincoln MKZ, and Volkswagen CC. There weren’t many direct rivals to the ES 300h, at least within its price range. The closest was the Lincoln MKZ hybrid.

The ES 350 and ES 300h each came in a single trim level that included a high level of equipment. Standard features included a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link, and keyless entry/engine start. A voice-activated navigation system with Lexus’ Remote Touch control interface and Enform infotainment system was optional.

A Premium Package included a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, wood interior trim, and driver-seat memory. A Luxury Package added leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, Park Assist, and a power rear-window sunshade. An Ultra Luxury Package included ambient interior lighting, front passenger-seat memory, manual rear side-window shades, heated steering wheel, power trunk lid, and a panoramic sunroof.

The ES 350 reprised the 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission from the 2012 model. The ES 300h used a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine paired with an electric motor for a combined 200 horsepower. It was connected to a CVT transmission that behaved much like an automatic. Both models were front-wheel drive.

The ES 350 was EPA-rated at 21 city/31 highway. EPA estimated fuel economy for the ES 300h was 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway. All ES models used regular-grade gas.

ES models included all the expected safety features plus driver and front-passenger knee airbags, rear-side airbags, and also offered a rearview camera, blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, Pre-Collision System, and Safety Connect assistance system.

Yearly Updates

2013 ES
The only change of note for 2014 was that both models now came with Siri Eyes Free Mode that allowed Apple iPhone users to enable various voice-command functions.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

The ES 350 was fitted with a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The ES 300h had a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine paired with an electric motor for a combined 200 horsepower. It mated with a CVT transmission that behaved much like an automatic. Both models were front-wheel drive.

dohc I4/electric2
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/144
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 156
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
CVT automatic

40/39

34.8

dohc V61
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/211
Engine HP 268
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 248
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

21/31

22

1. ES 350. 2. ES 300h. Combined gas/electric torque not available.

Road Test

ES 350 accelerates confidently in any driving situation. The 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth and alert. Standard is a Drive Mode selector that allows the driver to choose from Normal, Sport, or Eco settings. Sport sharpens throttle and steering response; Eco softens the throttle and changes air-conditioning settings to maximize fuel efficiency.

ES 300h is a bit leisurely on takeoff, but it picks up speed nicely after the first few dozen feet. The CVT provides smooth power delivery. The hybrid also includes the Drive Mode selector that adjusts throttle, steering, and other systems among three settings. Response is dullest in the Eco setting. Normal is fine for most driving tasks. Sport provides surprisingly brisk power delivery. The 300h adds an EV mode, which allows the car to operate solely on electricity for approximately one-half mile at speeds up to about 25 mph, provided the battery has enough charge.

In Consumer Guide testing, an ES 350 averaged 22.0 mpg and the gas/electric ES 300h averaged a thrifty 34.8 mpg. Both use regular-grade gasoline.

The ES is tuned for cushioned comfort. The ride is very absorbent overall, though some moderate bobbing over large bumps is noticeable at highway speeds. ES 350’s optional 18-inch wheels have little effect on overall ride quality.

Cornering prowess has never been the ES’s forte, but this model has slightly sharper handling than its predecessors. Still, most premium-midsize class rivals offer crisper moves all around. The Sport Mode dials in slightly heavier steering in the ES 350. As the ES 300h is heavier than its conventional gasoline counterpart, it feels a bit more ponderous. Some testers complained of vague steering feel, a condition that did not improve with the Drive Mode selector in the Sport position. The hybrid’s regenerative brakes (using heat and kinetic energy to recharge the battery) work well, but hard stops induce considerable nosedive.

Quietness is an ES strong point; overall sound levels are impressively hushed. The main source of noise is some wind rush from around the exterior mirrors, and the hybrid’s tires kick up a fuss on coarse pavement. The ES 350’s V6 sounds rich in rapid acceleration and fades to silence at cruising speeds. The ES 300h’s 4-cylinder engine note can become intrusive as the CVT transmission holds high rpm during acceleration.

Large gauge faces are clearly marked and easy to read. The optional navigation system comes with Lexus’ unique Remote Touch Control system. It garners mixed reviews among our testers. Some appreciate that you have free reign to move the cursor around the screen, able to more easily access the functions you want. Other “all-in-one” interfaces rely on a rotary “joystick” that requires circulating around different menus. Other drivers are not so keen on Lexus’ arrangement, citing that it is very easy to overshoot your intended destination and select the wrong function. Thankfully, the navigation screen is deeply inset and shrouded, so it’s not susceptible to washout in bright sunlight conditions. No models without navigation have been made available for testing.

ES interior materials and assembly are of high quality, and overall cabin ambiance is pleasingly tranquil and classy. A variety of trim and color options allow for personalization. The ES comes standard with Lexus’ NuLuxe faux leather upholstery, which has a convincingly upscale feel. Genuine leather is available as well.

Up front, headroom is 6-footer adequate and legroom is ample. The seats are well-cushioned and long-haul comfortable. The tilt/telescopic steering wheel and a broad range of seat settings help fine-tune an ideal driving position. The placement of the rearview mirror can block the view for tall drivers on curvy roads.

The increased rear seat space is a high point of the ES’s redesign. Six-footers should have adequate headroom and legroom, and the cabin is wide enough for three-abreast travel. Entry and exit are easy.

Trunk space is generous in the ES 350, though sickle-type hinges intrude on overall space. The optional power trunk, new for 2013, is a handy convenience feature. The ES 300h’s hybrid battery pack cuts into cargo volume: it has 12.1 cubic feet versus 15.2 for the ES 350. The trunk is useful for a week’s worth of groceries or a weekend’s worth of luggage for two, but not much more. However, the lack of fold-down rear seat backs is a bit disappointing. The 350 must make do with a center pass-through, but the 300h doesn’t even have that.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2013 ES 350 with 18-inch wheels

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 8
80%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 8
80%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 8
80%

Total: 66

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
111.0 192.7 71.7 57.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.2 17.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.5 37.5 41.9 40.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2013 ES 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

None
Description:

Recall History

2013-14 ES 350 and ES 300h
Description: The optional Pre-Collision System may detect a steel plate or joint in the road as a object and unexpectedly activate applying the brakes.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.