By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.4
After six generations, the Lexus ES sedan is still going strong for 2014, taking a backseat only to the RX crossover SUV in overall Lexus sales. BMW may make a sportier handling sedan and Audi may have a more opulent interior, but the ES's reputation for bulletproof reliability and resale speaks volumes about what matters most to luxury car buyers. A modest but capable V6 (in the ES 350), respectable handling and a long list of luxury features are the ES strengths, while the hybrid ES 300h offers all this plus 40 mpg. Aggressive yet handsome, the ES doesn't stray too far from the formula most buyers find appealing, and its user-friendly interfaces are a welcome relief from overly complex touch screens and button-littered dashboards. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.
If you're looking for luxury that is as reliable as it is impressive, the 2014 Lexus ES should hold a special place on your shopping list. The ES 300h hybrid model sacrifices nothing in return for its 40-mpg fuel economy.
If you're idea of a luxury sedan is one that can deliver a thrill ride while winding through twisting mountain roads, the ES is not the sedan for you. A rear-drive sport sedan, such as the Cadillac CTS or BMW 5 Series, makes a better choice.
Fresh from a complete remake last year, the 2014 Lexus ES receives only a few notable changes. LED fog lights replace the old fashioned bulb lamps, and heated and cooling seats can now be ordered with Lexus' faux-leather NuLuxe perforated seat trim. Apple's Siri Eyes Free technology is added to the equipment roster.
Driving Impressions The 2014 Lexus ES 350 delivers one of the most comfortable and quiet rides in the segment. Both the ES 350 and ES 300h are extremely quiet at highway speeds,...... so much so that it's sometimes hard to hear the engine working. But punch the accelerator and the ES 350's 268-horsepower V6 emits a subtle growl no amount of insulation can shut out. Capable of sprinting to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds, the ES is no slouch and delivers ample power for passing or merging. A selectable drive mode features a "sport" setting that changes the transmission's shift patterns to deliver better acceleration. Oddly, this setting seems to work better in the hybrid model, perhaps due to the added torque provided by the electric assist motor. The 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.
The 2014 Lexus ES 300h hybrid 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 2014, the ES has upped the ante. The cabin's design is sophisticate yet still logical and easy to figure out. The more contemporary design boasts clean lines and soft surfaces. All models employ 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 roomy back seat.Exterior
One look at the front of the 2014 Lexus ES is all it takes to know this is not the Lexus of old. Up front the ES shows of a dynamic spindle grille that is defining new Lexus models. 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 aluminum-alloy wheels, with larger wheels optional.
Even a base model of the 2014 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 2014 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 last-generation ES, 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 alone)
Total system horsepower: 200
156 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm (gasoline engine)
EPA fuel city/highway fuel economy: 40/39 mpg
The base manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for a 2014 Lexus ES 350 starts just under $37,500, including destination charge. The MSRP on a 2014 Lexus 300h hybrid is just a shade over the 40,000 mark. At these prices, the Lexus ES is comparable to the Acura TL and Cadillac CTS, higher than the Buick LaCrosse, and below the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Infiniti Q60. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are actually paying for the 2014 Lexus ES in your area. Down the road, resale value of the Lexus ES is expected to remain strong.
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 ..."
8 people out of 13 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."
11 people out of 18 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."
18 people out of 26 found this review helpful