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$39,900 - 44,635 MSRP

2020 Lexus ES Review

The 2020 Lexus ES is refined, comfortable, and spacious. It also earns outstanding predicted reliability and crash test ratings. The ES places in the top half of our luxury midsize car rankings, losing a few points for its challenging tech and uninspiring performance.

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth, comfortable, and quiet
  • Excellent predicted reliability rating
  • Roomy cabin and large trunk
  • Lots of standard safety features and great safety score
  • Infotainment system is challenging to use
  • No high-performance engine options

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Lexus ES's #4 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Midsize Cars category. Currently the Lexus ES has a score of 8.1 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 24 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 7.0
Safety: 9.5
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Lexus ES a Good Car?

Yes, the ES is a good car. You don't have to be a genius to figure out that it's one of the smartest buys in the luxury midsize car segment. Not only does it have one of the lowest starting prices in the class, but even the base trim is brimming with interior niceties and a full suite of advanced safety systems. Additionally, this vehicle has excellent crash test ratings, as well as one of the highest predicted reliability ratings in our rankings. Though it costs less than its Volvo and Mercedes counterparts, nothing feels low-grade in the ES. Its well-constructed cabin showcases an appealing collection of luxurious materials.

For 2020, Lexus continues to improve on its infotainment interface, adding Android Auto smartphone integration to its bag of tricks. This joins Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa in the ES' standard features list. However, the system is far from state of the art, as its mouselike touchpad is difficult to use, especially while driving.

Should I Buy the Lexus ES?

You should consider the ES if you want a luxury sedan that earns high praise for value, safety, reliability, and comfort. Tech-savvy shoppers may wince at its frustrating infotainment system, which isn't as user-friendly as what you'll find in the Audi A6 or Volvo S90. Spirited drivers who balk at the ES 350's comfort-oriented tuning may instead want to check out a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF.

Though all of these are very nice alternatives, they also cost thousands more than the Lexus. If you're looking for user-friendly technology, a luxury-grade interior, and lively performance in the low $40,000s, check out the Genesis G80.

Compare the ES, 5 Series, and G80 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus ES?

Lexus launched the latest generation of the ES for 2019, and there were few changes for 2020. By opting for a 2019 Lexus ES 350, you'll likely save a few dollars without missing out on any exciting changes. The only exception might be for Android phone users. For 2020, Android Auto is now standard in the ES (it was unavailable for 2019), and it may help alleviate some of the anguish caused by the frustrating infotainment system.

The current generation is much better than the previous one, which spans the 2013 to 2018 model years. The newer generation has a stronger engine, better handling, and added tech features. Prices get lower the older you go, but you'll forgo some appealing changes if you pick a 2018-or-older model.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 ES, 2018 ES, and 2019 ES reviews to help make your decision. Read more about the brand's certified pre-owned program, which won our award as the Best Certified Pre-Owned Program of 2019. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used cars.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 ES »

We Did the Research for You: 24 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this vehicle in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 24 professional Lexus ES reviews.

This 2020 review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which runs from 2019 to 2020.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Lexus ES Cost?

Pricing for the 2020 Lexus ES 350 starts just below $40,000, making it one of the least-expensive luxury midsize cars. The higher trims of the ES also have attractive prices compared to those of competing models from other brands.

Upgrading to the hybrid ES 300h costs another $1,900 or so. We cover the Lexus ES Hybrid in its separate review.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus ES Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus ES or Lexus GS?

The Lexus GS and ES both reside in our luxury midsize car rankings. The GS takes the performance approach with lively engine offerings that range from a 241-horsepower four-cylinder to a 467-horsepower V8. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and you can opt for all-wheel drive, an adaptive suspension system, and other performance upgrades. This is the one to pick if you want a meatier luxury car than the ES, but those that value calm cruising should stick with the ES. 

Which Is Better: Lexus ES or Toyota Camry?

The Toyota Camry is the ES 350's counterpart in the midsize car class. These two are similar when it comes to predicted reliability ratings, safety scores, and standard tech features. The Toyota forfeits many of the luxury amenities that come standard in the Lexus in exchange for a significant savings in price. You also get a better infotainment system in the Camry. Although you can get a V6 engine or a hybrid powertrain in both cars, only the Camry comes with a four-cylinder. The ES is more luxurious overall, though budget-conscious shoppers may want to consider a nicely equipped Camry XLE, which starts around $29,000.  

Compare the ES, GS, and Camry »

ES Interior

How Many People Does the ES Seat?

The Lexus ES 350 seats five people. It's a relaxing place to spend the day, thanks to a whisper-quiet cabin and well-cushioned seats. Furthermore, the back seat is incredibly spacious for this class. Perforated NuLuxe (Lexus' synthetic leather) and power-adjustable front seats are standard. Genuine perforated leather seats are available, as are heated and ventilated front seats.

ES and Child Car Seats

The ES 350 comes with two full sets of LATCH anchors for the rear outboard seats and an upper tether for the rear middle seat.

ES Interior Quality

This Lexus has an elegant interior that is brimming with top-notch materials, which is especially notable considering the ES' starting price. The cabin is well-constructed, and if you want to enhance it beyond the standard offering, Lexus offers upgrades like authentic wood and aluminum trim pieces, ambient lighting, and semi-aniline leather.

ES Cargo Space

The ES is a great pick if you need lots of luggage space, as its 16.7-cubic-foot trunk is one of the largest in the class. The optional hands-free power trunk lid opens with a wave of your foot, so you don't have to set down your bags to open the trunk.

ES Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Technology inside the ES 350 gets a momentous boost for 2020, thanks to the addition of standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

Despite these helpful features, the Enform interface is regularly labeled as one of the worst. The infotainment system's menus are complicated, an issue that's compounded by the lack of a touch screen, a series of buttons that are nearly indistinguishable, and a mouselike touchpad that demands a lot of attention to use.

Other standard features include Siri Eyes Free, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and an 8-inch display. Among the available upgrades are a navigation system with a 12.3-inch display, wireless smartphone charging, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

ES Performance

ES Engine: Smooth Cruiser

The ES comes with a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that feels refined and reasonably powerful. This Lexus is not intended to be a blisteringly quick car, as evidenced by its zero-to-60 time of 6.6 seconds, but it gets up to speed easily and has enough oomph to allow the ES to easily overtake a slower-moving vehicle on the highway. The standard eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly.

Lexus also offers this sedan as the ES 300h Hybrid, which we review separately. However, no meaty engine upgrades are available in the ES 350, which is unusual for this class.

ES Gas Mileage: Good for the Class

This vehicle gets 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. That's a little above average for a luxury midsize car. In comparison, the ES 300h Hybrid costs the average driver less in fuel costs by about $650, earning 43 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway.

ES Ride and Handling: Comfort Is King

The Lexus ES 350 coddles travelers with a quiet, silky ride and well-controlled body motions. This front-wheel-drive car is stable and refined. F Sport models dial up performance a bit with sport-tuned components. However, these models do not get a bump in horsepower and are not nearly as athletic as rivals like the BMW 5 Series.

Read more about performance »

ES Reliability

Is the Lexus ES Reliable?

The 2020 Lexus ES has an excellent predicted reliability rating of 4.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Lexus ES Warranty

Lexus covers its luxury vehicles with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

ES Safety

ES Crash Test Results

The 2020 ES 350 earned an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet released crash test info for the 2020 Lexus ES.

ES Safety Features

The ES comes standard with a rearview camera and Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. This suite of advanced safety features includes a pre-collision system, low-light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, road sign assist, lane tracing assist (which keeps you centered in your lane), lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Available safety options include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, parking sensors with automatic emergency braking, and a head-up display. While some car companies offer these upgrades only in the top trim levels, Lexus makes these features standard in the ES.

Read more about safety »

ES Dimensions and Weight

The ES is 16.3 feet long. It has a curb weight of 3,649 pounds and a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,740 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Lexus ES Built?

Lexus builds the ES in Kentucky.

Which Lexus ES Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Lexus ES 350 comes in four main trims: the base model, Luxury, Ultra Luxury, and F Sport. All come with the same 302-horsepower V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.

Additionally, there are three hybrid trims: ES 300h, ES 300h Luxury, and ES 300h Ultra Luxury. These models come with a 215-horsepower hybrid setup. See our separate Lexus ES Hybrid review to learn more about these models.

For the best value, we recommend sticking with the base model. This well-equipped trim is brimming with safety, tech, and comfort features. You can keep your costs low and add a few upgrades by cherry picking from the dozen or so available options, with prices ranging from about $75 to $1,500.

All trims are available with the Navigation package and the Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio package. The Navigation package ($1,820) comes with a navigation system, a 12.3-inch display, and enhanced voice controls. In addition to these features, the Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio package ($2,900) includes a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system.

Lexus ES 350

Standard features in the base trim include dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start. It also has synthetic leather upholstery, and the front seats have 10-way power adjustments. The standard infotainment system features an 8-inch display, 10 speakers, HD Radio, satellite radio, Amazon Alexa connectivity, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and Siri Eyes Free. You can connect your smartphone using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

In addition to a rearview camera, every ES comes with Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. This comprehensive suite of safety features contains a pre-collision system, low-light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, lane tracing assist, adaptive cruise control, and road sign assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Pricing for the 2020 ES 350 starts at $39,900. More than a dozen options are available. Some of these are bundled in to the trim's three available packages, starting with the $1,375 Premium package. It adds heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power-adjustable steering wheel, power-folding exterior mirrors, and memory settings for the driver's seat, outside mirrors, and steering wheel.

Lexus ES 350 Luxury

The Luxury trim (MSRP: $42,755) comes standard with all items included in the Premium package from the previous trim, along with perforated leather seats, ambient lighting, and wood trim.

Lexus ES 350 Ultra Luxury

In addition to all of the Luxury trim's features, the Ultra Luxury gets semi-aniline leather seats, a power rear sunshade, manual rear-door sunshades, a hands-free power trunk lid, and an upgraded suspension system. Prices start at $43,750 for this edition.

Lexus ES 350 F Sport

The F Sport trim (MSRP: $44,635) builds off the base model. Its standard features include the Premium package, 19-inch alloy wheels, F-Sport suspension tuning, and performance dampers. Interior styling elements include aluminum trim, unique gauges and pedals, and F Sport seats with heat, ventilation, and added bolstering. This performance-oriented model also boasts unique exterior styling elements and F Sport badging.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

See 2020 Lexus ES specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Lexus ES earns its spot in the top half of our luxury midsize car rankings because it achieves high levels of refinement and has a below-average starting price. Before you buy, make sure you can live with the challenging infotainment system in this Lexus. You also need to decide if its relaxed performance is a good match for your preferences.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2020 Lexus ES luxury-midsize sedan does the usual Lexus thing. That means superb build quality, tranquil traveling, great resale values, lots of standard equipment, and so on. Yet it also adds another element. After years of being the soft, spacious and somewhat anonymous one, the current ES … wears a bolder look and packs on a little more muscle. The implication is that while this new ES can still be roomy and relaxed, there's some extra involvement lurking, to be accessed whenever a driver wants … The 2020 ES is also kind of a bargain. This much space and equipment in a German car would cost a lot more." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • So if you liked the old ES, you'll love this one. But if you're looking for a luxury sedan with sporting intentions, this is not the one to buy. In fact, I'd recommend the ES300h hybrid over the rest of the family, and I'd choose this car over competitors from Acura, Infiniti and Buick, but probably not Cadillac." -- Autoweek (2019)
  • On paper, all of the ingredients for another successful generation of the ES would appear to be present and accounted for. The gear is there, the power is too, and from a comfort perspective the 2019 Lexus ES 350 and ES 300h each offer the kind of composed, transparent ride that continues to be the brand's calling card. Out in the wild, however, there's not much here that isn't available elsewhere – and, in some cases, with more room, sleeker styling, and better driving dynamics for nearly the same price." -- New York Daily News (2019)
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2020 Lexus ES

MSRP: $39,900 - $44,635

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