By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
The 2013 Lexus ES 350 marks the sixth generation for the luxury automaker's mid-size sedan, its number two best-seller behind the RX SUV. The car has been revamped outside and in, and is available for the first time as a hybrid – the ES 300h. The sedan's base engine is a V6 that carries over from the previous generation yet is still potent enough to effortlessly move this 5-passenger, front-wheel-drive car. The new design gives the 2013 Lexus ES a more aggressive exterior, but its ride still heavily favors comfort rather than the sporting nature of a BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS or Acura TL. Strong reliability and above-average predicted resale value bolster the ES' good reputation.
If you want a mid-size sedan that's quiet, comfortable and filled with amenities, the Lexus ES is among the top in its class. The 2013 ES further benefits from the strong reliability record of its parent, Toyota, and the availability of a high-mileage hybrid model.
Want your luxury sedan to offer some thrills on twisty roads? A better choice would be the BMW 5 Series, Acura TL or Cadillac CTS, which have tighter driving dynamics than the cushy Lexus ES. Those looking for even more value should consider the Buick LaCrosse.
For its 6th-generation debut, the 2013 Lexus ES has a slightly larger design with fresh sheet metal, more interior amenities, better fuel economy, and a hybrid model named the ES 300h that uses a 4-cylinder gasoline engine and battery-powered electric motor to achieve up to 40 mpg.
Driving Impressions The 2013 Lexus ES 350 drives much like its predecessors, which is to say marshmallow-soft and very quiet. If you seek a car that acts as a cocoon from the...outside world, the 2013 ES 350 and 300h hybrid should be on your shopping list. With its 268-horsepower V6, the ES 350 has a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, which means it can swiftly get up to speed on freeways and has good passing power once there. That, though, is pretty much where its dynamic driving behavior ends. Even when the car is set to "sport" mode via a new rotary dial, the ES feels soft. The hybrid ES 300h has less power, but adequate acceleration, and here the "sport" setting helps much more in getting the car up to speed. Transitions between the hybrid's electric motor and gasoline engine are very smooth, except when in "eco" mode, in which the throttle response feels muted and the powertrain nervous. Both cars are exceptionally comfortable.
The 2013 Lexus ES 300h hybrid essentially replaces the HS 250h, but the ES 300h's powertrain is much more refined. The car is rated at 40 mpg combined, and from our experience that number is realistic.
The Lexus ES has a host of options that can make it an oasis on wheels. Some of our favorites include the heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and Mark Levinson audiophile sound system that pumps out 835 watts through 15 speakers.
No Lexus is Spartan when it comes to interior amenities, and for 2013, the ES has upped the ante. The cabin's design is much improved over the prior model, which was starting to appear dated. The more contemporary design boasts clean lines and soft surfaces. All models now receive a dial above the shift knob that can set the car to "normal," "sport" or "eco" modes, and hybrid models have a button that allows the car to drive a short distance on battery power alone, similar to the Toyota Prius. The seats are comfortable for four adults thanks to a roomier back seat.Exterior
One look at the front of the 2013 Lexus ES is all it takes to know this is a new car. It is there that you'll see the spindle grille that is defining new models in the Lexus lineup. On the sides, flared fenders and a high beltline give a slightly aggressive impression. Around back, the snubbed trunk flows smoothly from the C-pillars. The ES 350 has twin tailpipes peeking from beneath the bumper, while the ES 300h hybrid has just one that is hidden below a spoiler running under the bumper. The Lexus ES rides on low-resistance tires and 17-inch alloy wheels, with larger wheels optional.
Even a base model of the 2013 Lexus ES comes well equipped with push-button start/stop, dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and smog sensor, a moonroof, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, HomeLink garage door opener, and an 8-speaker AM/FM/6-CD/satellite radio audio system with USB and iPod inputs. Seats are now trimmed in Lexus' NuLuxe material, with leather optional. On the safety front, the 2013 ES has 10 airbags, a backup monitor, and a service that offers emergency assistance at the touch of a button, and Lexus' Automatic Collision Notification in the event of an accident.
The Lexus ES can go from good to grand via a handful of packages or by checking off the boxes on individual options. Among the amenities you can add are a navigation system, heated and ventilated seats, a panorama glass roof, a power rear sunshade, and a Mark Levinson premium sound system. Drive-centric options include lane-departure warning system, radar-based cruise control, parking assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
Lexus ES 350 models use a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes an ample 268 horsepower and is connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Though this is the same engine and transmission as the prior model, fuel economy has improved through the use of low-friction materials. ES 300h models use a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and battery-powered electric motor that creates a total of 200 horsepower. The hybrid model uses an automatic, continuously variable transmission (CVT). Both models can run on regular 87-octane gasoline.
Lexus ES 350
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg
Lexus ES 300h
2.5-liter inline-4 + hybrid electric motor and nickel metal hydride battery module
156 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm (gasoline engine); 200 total horsepower
156 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm (gasoline engine)
EPA fuel city/highway fuel economy: 40/39 mpg
By Hoosier on Friday, March 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ride, sounds system"
Cons: "uncomfortable seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I love everything about this car except the seat is extremely uncomfortable. The seat back is concave and forces your back to curve. I've tried adding cushions, using after market pillows, but it's still uncomfortable. Other than that, the car drives great. The Levinson sound system is the best I've ever heard. The blind spot detection system is very useful."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Tellitlikeitis on Friday, November 21, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: new corvette
Pros: "Great looking car, very reliable"
Cons: "18" wheels are great looking, but they ride harder"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Lexus makes the JDPowers top list all the time for few repairs, but they discourage and give you a hard time to correct a problem if it costs too much. My Lexus had 14M when I showed my dealer that that coating on all 4 wheels looked like the coating was getting thin and was spotty. Very noticeable. Pictures were then sent to Lexus for review. After about 4 weeks, Lexus informed me that they would not repair or replace them. I am retired and take excellent care of my car. It doesn't take any Einstein to figure out that it was a defect in material or workmanship! It's always nice when you don't have to deal with issues like this one."
29 people out of 33 found this review helpful
By ALIVE01 on Saturday, September 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cheap lease, reliability, looks good"
Cons: "Loud, ride, plastic everywhere, seat coolers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is my 3rd ES. The others 05 and 09 had a quality of build far beyond the 2014. Lots've plastic. The Seat Coolers are WORTHLESS and Lexus told me to put the AC vent on the floor to make them work ... NOT. You can hear the road and feel the bumps not so in the 09. Closing the doors sounds like a piece of tin.Thank god it's a lease can't wait to turn it in! Last Lexus I will buy ..."
23 people out of 33 found this review helpful
By Jeff on Saturday, July 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "smooth ride; roomy vehicle"
Cons: "no compartment for sunglasses"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"had my Acura TL for 10 years and mileage getting up there. Wanted better gas mileage. considered Tesla but wife too nervous about new technology. ES300h nice compromise. good pick up and has very smooth ride. kids love the large back seat (much bigger than TL). getting used to hybrid system, but have been in low 40's with premium fuel. so far no problems but is early. love the technology package. excellent sound system (my dtr is phono-phile and she likes it). miss compartment for sunglasses but only minor complaint. Probably over paid but compared to Tesla, still cheap."
15 people out of 27 found this review helpful
By Lenn K on Friday, May 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,111overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "All around great! Uses REGULAR Gas with high MPG"
Cons: "N O N E"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I owned a 2008 and thought that it could not be beat. Purchased a 2013 ES350 Ultra and it is wonderful! If I wanted to nit-pick......A little noise from tires at high speeds(7o+). I'll fix that when I replace tires, hopefully not for 20,000 more miles."
21 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By Cantfish2much on Saturday, May 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,750overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ride is very smooth."
Cons: "Radio/screen interface could be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had a 2013 Acura TSX I traded in for this Lexus ES300h because the Acura rode so stiff. I've owned many Toyotas, Hondas and Acuras and this is by far my favorite. The hybrid was only $1800 more than the non and I figure I will break even in about 3 years with $3.50 gas. I generally keep cars about 10 years so I should save A LOT over that time. I love the ride."
11 people out of 18 found this review helpful