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2013 Lexus ES350 Rocky Mountain Review By Dan Poler

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2013 Lexus ES350

2013 Lexus ES350 Review
By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

In Lexus' ES line, the aim has always been to blend luxury and value. Based upon the Toyota Camry, the ES provides a touch of sophistication without breaking the bank. The new ES350 is completely redesigned inside and out for 2013, providing a host of new enhancements. We got to spend a week with an extensively equipped tester (you know that a car which includes an “ultra” luxury package is going to be decked out indeed) to explore Lexus’ latest updates.

Lexus has taken steps recently to create something of a corporate image for its sedans; recently updated models all bear some resemblance to one another. On the outside, the ES350 borrows from the GS350 at the front end and the LS460 at the rear end, but being smaller than either, seems combining the package in what almost feels like a scale model. The ES350 wears the design well, although as with all of the updated Lexus designs the low front overhang can be a challenge in parking lots and snowy weather.

Inside the cabin, we find all of Lexus’ latest updates. The cabin is quiet and refined, with soft perforated leather seating surfaces and extensively adjustable seats – as an example, power adjustable thigh support for the driver being one of the many nice-to-have options available. The unique double sunroof provides for an airy, open feeling in the cabin. Climate controls are logical and easy to use, but unfortunately things grow complex from there. The ES350 utilizes Lexus’ Remote Touch system which uses a sort of trackpad / joystick interface to manipulate on-screen selections to drive the wonderful Mark Levinson audio system, navigation, telephone, car configuration, and other features. The interface requires some getting used to and we suspect that some buyers may be turned off by the complexity of the setup, and although it works decently well with some practice, onscreen graphics feel a bit cluttered and dated compared to its peers.

But what about driving? This is an entry-level luxury sedan and in the ES line, Lexus has always stuck to the luxury side of things, trusting that buyers will favor the IS for a more sporty package that won’t break the bank. As a result, the ES350 is quiet and composed, more sedate than its IS and GS brethren. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun! Steering is low-effort but feels remarkably well connected, and even this luxury sedan has a Sport mode that can kick it up a notch in putting power down from the 3.5 liter V6’s 268 horsepower. The ES350 handles well straight and in the corners; although it’s never going to be a full-blown canyon carver, it can more than hold its own with a bit of spirited driving. We averaged 24 MPG overall, about average for this type of vehicle.

And here’s a surpise: In some respects, the ES350 actually seems to fare a bit better than the GS350 we had some weeks ago (SEE REVIEW) – whereas the GS seemed to have some trepidation in gear selection, we experienced none of that in the ES which provided a smooth, comfortable ride.

On the safety side of things, the ES350 comes equipped with ABS, traction and stability control, rear and front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and front knee airbags. Lexus Safety Connect is included to provide collision notification, stolen vehicle location and an emergency assist button. Warranties include 4 years and 50,000 miles for basic coverage and 6 years and 70,000 miles for powertrain coverage.

The ES350 represents an excellent update to an already excellent entry-level luxury sedan. Despite the shortcomings of the Remote Touch interface we expect that buyers will enjoy the ES350 as a stand-out offering in a crowded segment of the market. One thing to be conscious of is the effect of options on the price; options add up quickly, and our test model came equipped with very nearly $10,000 in options.


2013 Lexus ES350
Engine Type: All-aluminum V6 with dual VVT-i
Engine Size: 3.5L
Horsepower: 268
Torque (lb-ft): 248 @ 4700 RPM
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic with Sequential Shift
Wheelbase / Length (in): 111 / 192.7
Curb Weight: 3,549
Pounds per HP: 13.24
Fuel Capacity (gal): 17.2
Fuel Requirement: Regular unleaded
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL400; P215/55VR17
Brakes, front/rear: Ventilated disc / solid disc
Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson Strut / MacPherson Strut
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG
city / highway / observed: 21 / 31 / 24

Options and Charges

Ultra Luxury Package: $2,935.00 (Perforated semi-aniline leather trim interior, front passenger seat memory, panorama glass roof, heated & ventilated front seats, power rear & manual door sunshades, driver seat power cushion extender, dark bird’s-eye maple wood trim with ambient lighting, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel)

Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package: $3,745.00 (835-watt Mark Levinson premium audio with 15 speakers & single DVD/CD player, hard disk drive navigation system with backup camera, Lexus Enform with app suite, destiniation assist, & eDestination (includes 1-year trial subscription), Lexus insider voice command, SiriusXM NavTraffic, SiriusXM NavWeather, & SiriusXM

Sports & Stocks

17” split 10-spoke wheels with liquid graphite finish: $110.00
High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps: $515.00
One-touch power trunk: $400.00
Intuitive parking assist: $500.00
Rain sensing wipers with deicer: $155.00
Wood & leather trimmed shift knob and heated wood & leather trimmed steering wheel: $480.00
Cargo net: $64.00
Trunk mat: $105.00
Delivery: $895.00
Price as tested: $46,004.00