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2013 Lexus ES Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2013 Lexus ES was new.


Interior: 7.5

The redesigned Lexus ES 350 lives up to reviewers’ expectations, offering an exquisitely designed cabin with excellent build quality and more passenger space than most upscale midsize cars. However, critics lament the fact that features such as leather and Bluetooth, which were standard on the 2012 model, are now optional. To make matters worse, many agree that Lexus’ infotainment system can be difficult to use.

  • "While cabin quietness mostly lived up to our expectations, some of Oregon's coarse road surfaces incited tire roar that was impossible to ignore." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "But what about luxury, the car's raison d'etre? The prerequisites are all accounted for: solid, quiet cabin, acres of rear legroom, … rear sunshades and wood trim on the dash, doors and steering wheel. In addition to the seats, the dash gets leather, too, and all of the stitching is first-rate." -- AutoWeek 
  • "Of course, the quality of materials depends on whether you opt for one of the luxury packages, but build quality is excellent in typical Lexus fashion." -- Edmunds 
  • "While the previous car's cabin had all the pizzazz of a Holiday Inn Express, the new ES evokes some cues worthy of a boutique hotel." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Last year's ES had standard leather. The NuLuxe feels synthetic, but it's softer than the often-stiff leatherette, aka vinyl, competitors serve up." -- Cars.com 
  • "The backlit instrument panel is attractive and bright, and sitting inside the ES is pleasant overall. It's not overstyled and you never feel like you're having to hunt-and-peck for buttons or controls. It's elegant, it's refined and it all just... works." -- Autoblog 


Reviewers say that the redesigned ES 350 offers comfortable, supportive front seats and one of the most spacious back seats you’re likely to find. Leatherette upholstery and 10-way power-adjustable front seats are standard, while options include leather seats, as well as heated or climate-controlled front seats. Despite the spacious, comfortable accommodations, one reviewer notes that the ventilated front seats don’t offer much cooling. Additionally, leather, which was previously standard, is now optional on the ES. Rivals like the Acura TL, Audi A4 and Infiniti G37 offer leather as standard equipment.

  • "Space is ample all around, with the ES 350 coming closer to the Avalon in size than the Camry to which it has traditionally been compared. We did note, however, that taller rear seat occupants will find their heads touching the roof in ES 350s equipped with the optional panoramic sunroof." -- Edmunds 
  • "Result: the new ES is a truly substantial car with more than four inches of added legroom in the rear seat. It's like a racquetball court back there; so huge, passengers emit giggles and ‘wows!’ as they pile in and stretch their legs in unexpected splendor." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The seats feature decent lateral bolstering, an unexpected treat in this segment, and the thickly-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is lifted straight from the GS." -- Road and Track 
  • "Heated and ventilated seats are optional, but the ventilation borders on useless. That's ironic since the Avalon has cooled seats that turned your chaps to ice." -- Cars.com 

Interior Features

The 2013 Lexus ES comes with standard interior features that include a moonroof, piano black trim, a HomeLink programmable garage door opener, push-button start and an eight-speaker stereo with a six-disc CD changer, auxiliary audio and USB ports and satellite radio. Optional features include parking sensors, a backup camera, a blind spot monitoring system, an upgraded stereo, a panoramic moonroof, wood trim, a power rear sunshade, Bluetooth and navigation.

While reviewers remain pleased with the ES 350’s build quality, they find a number of issues with its interior features. Models equipped with Bluetooth or navigation come with Lexus’ Remote Touch interface, which features a mouse-like controller to adjust audio and navigation settings. The system “locks out” access to a number of features when the ES is at speed, including some audio presets. A few reviewers say that while limited access may help drivers pay attention to the road, it doesn’t make much sense when a passenger could adjust the stereo. The system fails in other areas as well, as some critics mention that Remote Touch isn’t as easy to use as the MMI and COMAND systems that you’ll find in the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. Others mention that features like Bluetooth ought to be standard equipment and that the panoramic moonroof seems like an unrefined afterthought.

See 2013 Lexus ES 350 specs »

  • "When listening to Pandora Internet Radio, the system will only allow access to twenty-five stations at speed, an inexplicable frustration that's analogous to locking out certain FM radio frequencies." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The climate controls are still quite simple to use, but those for the audio system have become more complicated due to the increased number of available media types." -- Edmunds 
  • "Frustratingly, the system locks out numerous functions (even many radio presets) while the vehicle is in motion. Maybe Lexus is doing many of us a favor by forcing ES drivers to pull over before they attempt to mouse. Then again, at speed, even co-pilots are barred from making inputs." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The gimmicks continue with an optional panoramic moonroof. It's more like two small roofs separated by a massive divider, with clunky manual sunshades that short drivers won't like yanking." -- Cars.com 
  • "Opting for navigation - part of either the Premium, Luxury or Ultra Luxury packages - will get you an eight-inch display mated to Lexus' Remote Touch movable mouse-like joystick - a feature that, even after a few years, we still can't quite get used to." -- Autoblog 


The 2013 Lexus ES 350’s 15.2-cubic-foot trunk offers more space than the trunks in most upscale midsize cars.

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