All new, but still exactly what you expect from a Lexus.
The ES350 has long been the brand’s best-selling sedan, and its 2013 redesign is unlikely to mess with that success. Previously based on the Toyota Camry, the latest ES is built off the larger Toyota Avalon. As a result of the longer wheelbase, rear-seat legroom is much improved. The interior is far more modern than its dowdy predecessor’s, and the new exterior styling apes the look of the larger GS. The biggest change, though, is the addition of a hybrid model. The ES300h borrows its four-cylinder gas/electric powertrain from the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Total output is only 200 hp, but the upside is exceptional fuel economy: 40/39 mpg city/highway. The standard ES350, with its 3.5-liter V-6, can’t come close to those numbers, but it has seen an increase over last year’s: 21 mpg city (up 2 mpg) and 31 highway (up 4 mpg). The V-6 still makes 268 hp, which is enough to send the ES350 from 0 to 60 mph in a respectable 7.1 seconds. Lexus has tightened the suspension and quickened the steering, but the essential nature of this car is unchanged. There’s a standard Drive Mode Select feature, which alters powertrain mapping and steering effort, but you won’t dial up a sport sedan. Instead, the ES delivers traditional Lexus virtues: a smooth, quiet ride; a plush interior; and plenty of luxury features.
new for 2013
The ES350 is completely redesigned for 2013. The Hybrid model is a new addition. It is $2750 more expensive than the V-6 sedan but is EPA rated at a stratospheric 40/39 mpg city/highway.
Front, knee, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; stability and traction control; and a backup camera are standard. Precollision warning is included with optional active cruise control. Lane-departure alert, a blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert are optional. Lexus’s Safety Connect system includes collision response and a one-year subscription.
Great fuel economy (Hybrid)
Not at all sporty
Languid response (Hybrid)
No all-wheel-drive option
Base Price Range: $36,995–$39,745
TRIM LEVELS: ES350, ES300h
BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.5L I-4/electric hybrid, 200 hp
3.5L V-6, 268 hp, 248 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed automatic, continuously variable
PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A
CARGO SPACE: (ES350/ES300h) 15.2/12.1 cu ft