Reviewed by Susan Frissell

A reliable standby in the Lexus stable, the ES 350 has been a very popular sedan. For 2014, there are a few changes, including the available high-intensity discharge headlamps now accompanied by LED fog lights. Buyers can also opt for the Bamboo interior trim (also available in the hybrid version), as well as heated/ventilated seats with leather interior. Also new is the Siri Eyes Free Mode for the iPhone 4S and 5. enabling various voice commands (placing calls, playing iTunes music, texting, emails, getting directions, calendar, listening to notifications, performing a search, appts., etc).


esextThe 350 ES is available in only one iteration, unlike other luxury sedans that offer a longer version. There is plenty of rear seating room in the ES and passengers can expect a comfortable ride over the long haul. In fact, the ES sports more legroom at 40 inches than its big sisters the LS at 35.8 inches and the GS at 36.8 inches. Driver’s seating, however, isn’t as comfortable; nor is it as supportive as some of its competitors. Our test version came equipped (below) with the optional Luxury Package which includes the beautiful Bamboo trim and heated/cooled leather seating. For the most part, the ES’ interior is “luxurious,” but nothing outstanding.

As in the LS, the ES uses the mouse-like controller to operate the sound system and navigation. While we have become accustomed to using it, it is somewhat clumsy. Trunk space is plentiful at 15.2 inches and easily reachable when loading. A small pass-through is the only connection to the trunk as the rear seats in the ES do not fold flat. This is a disadvantage. The Mercury MKZ’s seat does fold down, however, another competitor, the Hyundai Genesis does not.

Extra space is limited in the ES 350. There are map pockets on the door and a center console that provides space to hid things. But in general, this is not a generous interior. Cupholders are at a premium, too. Maybe Lexus is thinking “why would anyone want to be eating or drinking in this luxo-sedan?” I can remember the days that was true of this writer. No one was allowed to even entertain any spills in my ride! My, how things have changed.

The optional equipment on our test ES 350 included Blind Spot Monitor w/rear cross traffic alert ($500); High Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps w/LED Daytime Running Lights ($565); Power Rear Sunshade ($210); Luxury Package (perforated leather-trimmed interior, heated/ventilated front seats, Bamboo interior trim, Power tilt/telescopic steering wheel,Lexus Memory Systemfor driver’s seat, outside mirrors, steering wheel, Remote keyless entry-linked memory ($1,370); Hard Disk Drive Navigation system with backup camera, 8-inchVGA screen, voice command, single CD/DVD player, Lexus Enform w/destination assist and eDestination, subscription-free App Suite ($2,625); Intuitive Parking Assist ($500), Rain Sensing Wipers with deicer ($155), Wood and leather Trimed steering wheel ($300).

Competitors to the ES 350 currently include Hyundai Azera and Genesis, Volvo S60, Lincoln MKZ, Acura TL, and in the not to distance past, the Infiniti Q50 (G37) and the Audi A4. While the Lexus ES 350 sedan remains a great car, there are so many more sedans on the market today. Not necessarily in the ‘near luxury’ category but strong contenders, nevertheless: Including such cars as the Kia Optima.


We didn’t find the ES 350 as comfortable a car as some as it hovered over ruts and bumps. Bottoming out when navigating a speed bump at low speeds surprised us. Maybe because we just got out of a week in the Lexus LS. Hardly a comparison, I suppose.

Some believe that the ES 350 offers a lot for the $43,605 price tag. This writer would argue, which near luxury sedan doesn’t? True, the ES 350 offers roomy rear seating and a fair amount of luxury on the inside. Styling, although somewhat changed for 2014, is still dated.

What was once available at between $30,000-$35,000 in the ‘near luxury’ category, is now priced at between $40,000-$45,000. The ES 350 added additional space when it switched to the Toyota Avalon platform in 2013. If you prefer a sportier car, Lexus offers the IS (only $520 more than the ES). For those who want additional size and bulk, the GS fits that bill, at some $10,000 dollars more.

As with all Lexus offerings, the ES 350 drives effortlessly. It’s clear why so many consumers elect to drive the ES. It’s an easy car to drive every day. Parking, maneuvering and handling accommodate most driving needs. Somewhat dull for those of us who prefer a performance car feel, the ES still can’t be faulted for all it offers the average driver.

When driving at highway speeds, the ES isn’t perfectly soundproof. As noted above, the ES was surprisingly harsh over bumps and less desirable road surfaces. No complaints about Lexus’ 3.5-liter engine, the same engine in many of Lexus’ vehicles. This is a very capable, quiet and powerful-enough engine. Front-wheel-drive, teamed with traction control and vehicle stability control makes for good handling during the winter months.

As expected, safety features abound on the ES. In fact, in 2014, the ES earned the National Highway Safety Administration’s highest overall crash test rating.


MSRP: $36,470, total vehicle price $43,605, destination $910

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC four-cam, 24-valve V6, 268 hp., all-aluminum, dual VVT

Transmission: Electronically-controlled w/intelligence (ECT-i), 6-speed with sequential shift, FWD

Wheelbase: 111.0 in.

Length: 192.7 in.

Width: 71.1 in.

Height: 57.1 in.

EPA fuel economy: 21/31/24 mpg.

Tires: 215/55R17

Wheels: 17-inch aluminum alloy split 6-spoke

Warranty: 4 yr/50,000-mile basic coverage, 6-yr/70,000-mile powertrain coverage, 6 yr/unlimited mile corrosion perforation.