With top safety ratings, an impeccable interior and a strong V6 engine, the 2018 Lexus ES 350 is a traditional luxury sedan for buyers who’d rather be at the theater than swapping concert photos on Snapchat.
Sure, the ES buyer may have been on Max Yasgur’s farm in 1969 for Woodstock, but they’ve grown up since then. They’ve given up their VW vans in favor of more conservative rides with class and taste. That’s why they’re likely to like the new ES 350.
The ES hasn’t changed much for 2018, but that could be what attracts ES buyers. They’re not chasing the latest trends and fads, but want a solid, comfortable, reliable luxury car.
They get it in the 2018 ES 350.
We’ll start with the interior, a place where Lexus traditionally excels. Surprisingly, aniline leather is not standard in the ES, but is included in the $3,500 “Ultra Luxury” package, which also adds wood trim, heated and ventilated seats, a tilt and telescoping heated steering wheel, a rear power sunshade, upscale ambient lighting and a panoramic glass roof and power moonroof. Without many of these features, the car just isn’t the same, so you’ll likely want to opt for this package.
The cabin is roomy, with 37.5 inches of headroom in both front and rear seats. Legroom in back is a generous 40 inches.
On the outside, the current generation of the ES 350 has stepped up its style game with a dramatic new front end and sleek lines. The ES has the company’s signature spindle grille, sharp lines and an aggressive stance. Flared fenders and twin tailpipes help give this sedan a sporty elegance. The ES has standard 17-inch wheels, upgradeable to 18-inchers.
The new ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that develops 268 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and the combination is a winner when it comes to performance and fuel economy. Lexus says the ES 35 will hit 60 miles per hour in 7.1 seconds.
The 2018 ES 350 will take you 21 miles on city streets and 30 miles down the interstate on a single gallon of gas. But if you’re into saving even more gas, you should check out the hybrid version of the ES 350. It promises 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The bonus is both versions of the ES run on regular 87-octane gas.
On the road, the front-wheel drive ES 350 doesn’t outperform some of its European rivals, but it still has plenty of oomph with an immediate throttle response. Steering is linear and centered, and hard corners produce limited body roll. Driver selectable modes include normal, Eco and sport.
The ES 350 has pushbutton start, dual zone automatic air, heated mirrors and sophisticated safety equipment that helps the sedan win the highest safety marks.
The ES has a full complement of 10 airbags, including knee airbags, and the standard Lexus Safety System + includes a pre-collision feature, automatic collision notification, lane departure alert, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control and intelligent high beams.
The government gives the 2018 Lexus ES 350 five overall safety stars, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the ES its “Top Safety Pick” award, handing out the agency’s top “good” score in every category.
Lexus offers laptop-type pads to control vehicle systems on some of its vehicles, and mouse-type controllers on others.
The ES uses the latter, a mouse-like controller that governs most vehicle systems through the multimedia screen at the top of the center stack. Being a desktop user, I much prefer that system. It’s just, well, easier and more intuitive.
For connectivity and charging, there are two USB ports, a 12v outlet and an auxiliary jack inside the center console.
2018 Lexus ES 350
$38,900 ($48,260 with options)
EPA mileage estimates:
21 mpg city/30 mpg highway/24 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: