2013 Lexus ES 350

The Good:
– Ride and handling
– Cabin legroom and features
– Decent engine power
The Bad:
– Rivals offer better fuel economy
– Limited rear headroom
– Pricey with options

When a Lexus ES 350 is on your shopping list, it can mean one of two things. Either you have realised you’re getting old. Or you are more interested in appearing rich more than you’re interested in cars, but you really aren’t rich as you clearly worry about resale value. However, we have to say that if the all-new Lexus ES 350 is still on your shopping list, you are getting a much better car now.

To differentiate from the Toyota Camry, the new Lexus ES is based on the Toyota Avalon platform, which is essentially a stretched Camry. It was a good move, considering the ES is all about passenger comfort anyway. The exterior design is fine, and owners will be glad that it looks like a GS or LS from far away.

Inside, the cabin is trimmed nicely for the most part, with tasteful amounts of wood. That full-colour LCD screen nestled within the soft-touch dash looks elegant, while the doors, armrests and seats are all padded with nice cushy leather. The only nitpick is the area below the a/c console, which is made of hard plastic and looks the part too. Also, we checked out a privately-owned ES 250, and noticed less-cushy materials and an uglier monochrome screen, so you have to pay up for an interior like the one you see here.

Cabin volume has apparently increased thanks to the new longer wheelbase. It remains spacious up front, while the rear has almost as much legroom as a proper full-size sedan. The leather seats have minimal bolstering. While you can stretch out your legs, you have to watch your head in the back, because taller passengers will have their hair nearly touching the headliner. It’s an odd decision to sacrifice rear headroom for swoopy styling in a car that has no sporting pretensions. At least there are lots of cup-holders, and the boot is big, even if awkwardly shaped along the sides.

Opt for the top models, and you’ll have all the gadgets you’ll ever need. The joymouse-controlled LCD computer, unique to Lexus, replaces the traditional touchscreen now, and integrates the solid 8-speaker CD/DVD/MP3 stereo, USB player, Bluetooth phone, navigation and other settings all in one. The mouse-pointer system is ingenious, although it can be gimmicky to use on the move, but thankfully some basic stereo controls can be found on the centre-console as well as the steering wheel, while the strong tri-zone climate control has separate buttons too, with rear passengers getting controls and a/c vents too. There’s also adaptive cruise control, HID headlights, pull-up rear-window sun-shades, vented power front seats, smart key, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitor, lots of airbags, and a panoramic glass roof.

The 3.5-litre engine is the same as before, still making 272 hp at 6200 rpm and 346 Nm of torque at 4700 rpm. It’s a good engine, even without the benefit of modern direct-injection tech, as it managed to haul our 1685-kg test car strongly on the road if not on the drag-strip, with an as-tested 0-100 kph run of 7.4 seconds in hot September weather. With the aid of a smooth 6-speed automatic, we were burning 13.3 litres/100 km of petrol in spirited driving, which is average for the class.

For a car that was a bit of a boat before, the handling has improved a lot in its latest iteration. While it won’t chase BMWs, the ES 350 actually handles rather well, to the point where we were fairly confident in taking corners quickly, thanks to those 215/55 tyres wrapping its 17-inch alloy wheels. Understeer comes on late and predictably, the body roll never gets excessively floaty, and the grip limits are surprisingly high. The steering lacks feedback, but there is now a little bit of weight to it, while the brakes work linearly and more than adequate.

The ES 350 remains a good cruiser, with a fairly smooth and quiet ride. Wind noise is slightly noticeable at 120 kph, while some uneven surfaces are sometimes felt inside the cabin, but they are minor concerns. The engine is barely audible most of the time.

In our minds, the Lexus ES 350 is finally a car that doesn’t fall in the “boat” category by default any more. With its new-found prowess, it can actually be entertaining to drive while retaining the characteristics that made it popular with luxury-taxi fleets and old people in the first place. Of course, the price has gone up considerably now for the V6 variant, so you have to pay for all these improvements, and pay some more if you want all the toys.

Price Range:
Dh 180,000-220,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2013

Body Styles:
4-door sedan

Engines:
3.5L 272 hp V6 / 346 Nm

Transmissions:
6-speed automatic

Setup:
Front-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1640-1685 kg

Length:
4900 mm

Wheelbase:
2820 mm

Top Speed:
228 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
7.4 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
13.3 litres/100km

24 comments to 2013 Lexus ES 350

  • max

    better you buy nisan maxima, cheaper and far better option than lexas es350

  • Said Hassan

    LOL..boat category. What type of classification is this?

  • Shahzad Haider

    Love this review….

  • Marwan

    Personally I love this car as I drove the last generation for sometime. It is a car that fits its purpose well and its seats are way more relaxing that the german cars. The only thing is that the design is conservative more than it is supposed to be..but yet its design is better than that boring old face of the GS..:)

  • Ziraj

    Excellent review!i so agree “When a Lexus ES 350 is on your shopping list, it can mean one of two things. Either you have realised you’re getting old. Or you are more interested in appearing rich more than you’re interested in cars, but you really aren’t rich as you clearly worry about resale value”! well said

  • Q8_Nomad

    Very good review. Balanced, informative & fun.
    Thank you!

  • Azoy

    Wow! 220k! O_O I remember when I bought mine in 2008. It was only 160k for the full optional model. :s

  • max

    why to pay 220k for nothing………..pay less and get every thing, buy nisan maxima…

  • zia

    Well said about car, was on my top list , excited about the car, took a test drive, and realize that its just a refined camry with 180k price tag, even i felt that camry is better in driving than this es350, it is best for “Uncles” or ladies……

  • Anil

    for 220k….infiniti M56

  • Spark

    now I think of it as a cheap GS
    really similar to each other
    except the price tag

  • Xalan Mustafa

    Nice Camry

  • fahd

    has anyone purchased this car, specifically the es250 – can anyone share their feedback?

  • hamid

    recently purchased the car (ES350)for 142K. I think it is a good deal for this kind of car comparing with other cars in the similar spec.

    • fahd

      hi hamid, did you get it for 142k?? are you sure, i check the dealer the es350 is for atleast 190k

    • Waqar

      I bought an ES 250 Platinum. It has all the needed features smart entry, premium leather, wood, 3-zone AC, Lexus remote touch, cruise control. An awesome car if you are looking for a comfortable cruiser, with a pleasing interior, and silent ride. I don’t care about going fast and tails at corner.

      I did not buy GS, even though its exterior looks better, the interior at the rear is slightly cramped plus the big hump for the rear wheel drive. It is sportier and trades off comfort.

      I was disgusted by ES and GS earlier because of their ugly styling, but the new interior has made me a fan.

      And I am 29.

  • Moaz

    Test drove one today es250 currently own a 2012 maxima
    Maxima is a disappointment in NVH they screwed up the car
    Es 250 is just absolutely amazing to drive for my taste no non sense noises no rattle no clucking drives like a dream tried 350 as well but felt it nose heavy due to added weight of v6 while certainly powerful and has gut however es250 does a fine job and handles bit better in corners and long curving ramps
    The six speed tranny is by far the smoothest unit I have driven heck it felt as smooth as a cvt the pick up n go and downshift just felt buttery smooth …..

    It’s on my list and I am 32 and my reason ain’t trying to look rich or resale .. It’s NVH & reliability of a Toyota product which no german car can ever match !

  • Sunil

    Like the first para.

  • Dr Debasis Biswas

    I drive a Lexus ES350 Titanium. Ride quality definitely exceeds your expectation for this price, features are handy, radar control of pre crash system works wonderfully well and noiselessness is impressive. I have a Mark Levinson music system which is worth paying the extra money for. I found the review unimpressive and, going by the review, you may miss out on buying a real good car. Before I bought it, I asked many of my (truly rich) friends who had a ES350 in addition to having other more expensive makes. Each of them used the same expression “it is an amazing car”. I strongly suggest you to take a test drive. If you are tight on budget, go for the “Prestige”, ie, with less options. I suspect, you will look no further.

    • Adil

      I suppose you and your truly friends have never sat in a truly luxury car to be impressed by this taxi.

    • Dr Debasis Biswas

      The pungency of Mr Adil’s personal attack does not reflect an educated mind.
      Two comments.
      1. The ‘taxi’ that picked me from Vienna airport was a S500 Merc. The ‘taxi’ in Las Vegas was an even more expensive Limo. The term ‘taxi’ would mean something cheap only to somebody who has not seen enough of the world.
      2. At 210K, we surely are not discussing Rolls or equivalent.

    • prado

      to add on the fun factor here… I was picked by E class Merc Taxi from Singapore airport… :)..

      back to the topic, ES 350 is certainly a great the buy, the problem is when you reach 200K… one can easily go for a A6, E class or even 5 series..

  • umar khan

    Guys you buy camry maxima or whatever….but lexus is Being a culture of emirati’s Since 90s then obviou price will be high

  • Kodvar

    Guys i need an advise, I am planing to switch Camry to ES350 , please let me know fuel efficiency, i am traveling more than 300 km everyday.

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