The 2013 Lexus ES 350 is a value luxury vehicle that looks good and feels even better. It has incredibly comfortable seats and a spacious, eye-pleasing interior in keeping with the Lexus name. Although its focus is clearly on pampering its passengers, performance still counts, and the car does deliver.
There have been a lot of changes to the 2013 Lexus ES 350 starting with a restyled exterior that includes a new hourglass-style ‘spindle grille’ and side view mirrors that have been moved back for better aerodynamics and a quieter ride. It’s got a more stylish, aggressive look overall, but it’s on the inside where this car really shines.
The interior has been completely redone making the cabin feel larger and more open. First, the dash no longer has wrap-around styling and is pushed-back, losing the cockpit-like design of the previous model. The navigation screen is then set into the long lines of the dashboard so as not to break things up, which adds to the clean, open look.
There is now an expansive backseat that can easily accommodate three adults thanks to a 2″ longer wheelbase that’s no longer the same as the Camry, but closer to the Avalon. This makes the 2013 Lexus ES 350 a quiet, roomy and unbelievably comfortable car for passengers and drivers.
It also has a new wider center console which houses storage and the one feature I found awkward. If you get the audio and navigation upgrade, then the console also has the Remote Touch controller that lets you navigate the screen. It looks great, but it’s just not easy to use.
The controller starts off well with a nicely contoured area where your arm and wrist rest, like an ergonomic mouse pad, but the square controller at your fingertips is ungainly. It’s easy to accidentally hit it twice instead of once, sending your cursor off in the wrong direction which makes it distracting and difficult to operate.
Under the hood, the 2013 Lexus ES 350 has a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 like what you’ll find in a Camry but it’s not like driving a Camry at all. Greater noise reduction combined with the more luxurious interior make this a much smoother ride. It’s so smooth that you won’t notice how quickly you’re up to speed which may be a drawback for some drivers. If you want more of a performance feel, the solution is to switch the drive mode selector to Sport.
Sport mode gives increased responsiveness, a tighter feel to the wheel and better control, especially during acceleration. Normal mode is a carefree, cushy ride that just carries you from point A to point B with little thought for the drive itself, but Sport lets you have a little fun.
If you’re feeling environmentally conscious, or just want to get the higher end of the mpg estimates, then flip it to Eco mode but be prepared to feel the difference in a less responsive, more restrained drive. It’s rated 21 mpg city and 31 mph highway with a 24 mpg combined rating so fuel economy is already pretty good. I didn’t like the Eco mode, simply because it felt like it neutered a vehicle that was otherwise an athletic drive.
As a luxury car, even a value one, you’d expect a lot of gadgetry and the 2013 Lexus ES 350 complies. It’s sold in mono-spec with just one trim level and several option packages, but even without those options, there is no shortage of things to make you smile.
It has automatic dual zone climate control, 10-way adjustable driver and passenger power seats, heated outside mirrors, push-button start, premium audio system with 6-disc CD player, power windows and locks, an analog clock, HomeLink garage-door openers, a 3.5-inch color info display, and an eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth streaming audio, USB/iPod connectivity, and SiriusXM capability. That’s all standard but you can add more.
Options like a one-touch power trunk, rain sensing wipers with deicer and intuitive parking assist are available. The Ultra Luxury Package includes upgrades to the interior trim levels, heated and ventilated leather seats, a panorama glass roof, power rear and manual door sunshades and ambient lighting
There’s also the Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio package which includes 15 speakers, hard disk drive navigation with backup camera, Lexus Enform with App Suite and voice command. All of these add ons complement an already luxe interior and amplify the car’s focus on comfort and convenience.
The 2013 Lexus ES 350 starts at $36,100 but the one I drove included the Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package and Ultra Luxury Package so it came in at $47,300. That makes if very nicely equipped at just under the $50,000 mark. It’s competition includes the Acura TL and the Cadillac CTS both of which offer a sportier drive, but you just can’t beat the Lexus in terms of comfort. If you’re looking for a supremely comfortable entry-level luxury car, then this is an excellent choice. More performance minded drivers who want to get behind the wheel of a Lexus should check out the Lexus GS.
On the TFLcar.com recommendation scale of:
– Buy it
– Lease it
– Rent it or
– Forget it
I give the 2013 Lexus ES 350 a BUY IT!
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. When not drooling over cars, Nicole writes for Wired’s GeekMom.