2018 Lexus ES

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MSRP: $38,950 - 38,950

2018 Lexus ES Review

The 2018 Lexus ES ranks well in the upper half of the luxury midsize car class. It looks great inside and makes a fine commuter car, but some class rivals have easier-to-use technology and are more fun to drive.

Pros & Cons

  • Supple ride quality
  • Strong standard engine
  • Upscale interior and plenty of standard features
  • Above-average predicted reliability score
  • Lackluster handling
  • Frustrating infotainment controls

New for 2018

  • Lexus Enform Safety Connect and Enform Service Connect now complimentary for the first 10 years of ownership

Is the Lexus ES a Good Car?

Yes, the Lexus ES is a good car. It rides smoothly, and the V6 engine provides ample power. Inside, this Lexus brims with high-quality materials and provides plenty of space in both rows. However, the ES isn't perfect; some competitors handle better and have more user-friendly infotainment systems.

Should I Buy the Lexus ES?

With its solid ranking and below-average starting price, the ES provides good value for the money, making it a worthwhile choice for many buyers. However, that doesn’t mean it's the only car worth considering. If you're on a tighter budget, consider the Acura TLX, which has the lowest price tag. If you value performance, consider the smaller Audi A4, which also costs less than the ES. Lexus offers a fuel-efficient hybrid version of the ES as well. It has a higher starting price than the nonhybrid model, but the savings at the pump make up some of that price difference.

Compare the ES, A4, and TLX »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus ES?

The Lexus ES was fully redesigned for 2013, and it has since seen few changes. The 2016 model received minor styling updates, while the 2017 model added several new standard driver assistance features such as forward collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The 2018 model carries over essentially unchanged.

You can potentially save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used car instead of a new one. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Lexus ES and 2017 Lexus ES. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 ES »

We Did the Research for You: 41 Reviews Analyzed

For our 2018 Lexus ES review, we researched dozens of professional evaluations, along with safety scores, reliability data, and more, to help you make the best buying decision possible. This overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2013 through 2018 model years, which are all the years of the current generation.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our editorial team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our car reviews are unbiased, we don't accept expensive gifts or incentives from car companies, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Lexus ES Cost?

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 comes in only one trim and starts at $38,950, which is less than many luxury midsize cars. A handful of packages and several stand-alone options are available for between $200 and $3,500. A fully loaded 2018 ES can cost nearly $51,000.

For more information about the Lexus ES' standard and optional features, check out the “Which Lexus ES Model Is Right for Me?” section below

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 Audi A4?

The Audi A4 is a luxury small car, so it is a bit less roomy than the ES. Both cars enjoy solid rankings in their classes. The A4's base price is a few thousand dollars below the Lexus', and the A4 features a first-rate cabin and provides plenty of driving enjoyment. Though it's a small car, the Audi still has adult-friendly rear seats. The A4's two available turbocharged engines deliver solid power and better fuel economy than the ES, and you can outfit an A4 with all-wheel drive. You can’t go wrong with either car, but the ES is a better choice if you need more space. The Lexus also gets a better predicted reliability rating.

Which Is Better: Lexus ES or Acura TLX?

The Acura TLX is the least expensive luxury midsize cars, and its base price is more than $5,000 below the ES'. You get what you pay for though, as this Acura falls short of the Lexus in terms of quality. To avoid the TLX's weak base engine, you have to pay extra to upgrade to a V6. Also, the TLX’s seats aren't especially spacious or comfortable. On the bright side, the TLX is available with all-wheel drive, while the ES is not. The TLX has a smoother ride than ES, but the ES has the nicer interior. Unless budget is your top concern, go with the Lexus ES.

Compare the ES, A4, and TLX »

ES Interior

How Many People Does the ES Seat?

The Lexus ES sedan seats five on standard leatherette upholstery and comes with 10-way power-adjustable front seats. Upgrades include real leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a heated steering wheel, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The front seats are all-day comfortable. Rear-seat space is a highlight of the ES; even taller occupants should have enough legroom to stretch out. Headroom is decent, but lofty passengers might wish for more in models equipped with the optional panoramic roof.

ES and Car Seats

The ES has two complete seats of LATCH child-seat connectors and a top tether anchor for the middle seat. The system earns praise for its overall ease of use. The lower anchors are easy to find in the seat cushion, and there’s enough space to finagle your hands around and attach the car-seat straps.

ES Interior Quality

Though the ES is one of the least expensive cars in the class, you won’t sacrifice quality compared to rivals. Cabin materials are top-notch, with luxurious surfaces and a sleek, modern design. You can opt for swanky accents like bamboo or maple wood trim or piano-black pieces.

ES Cargo Space

The 2018 ES’ trunk measures 15.2 cubic feet. While that amount is average for the class, utility is hampered by the lack of a folding rear seat. If you need to carry long items, hope that they’re skinny so they’ll fit through the middle seat's ski pass-through.

ES Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the 2018 ES 350 luxury sedan include dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a USB port, an eight-speaker stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, proximity key entry, push-button start, a moonroof, an 8-inch infotainment display screen, and smartphone-linked navigation. Optional features include a panoramic glass roof, a power rear sunshade, navigation, voice command recognition, the Remote Touch controller, the Enform App Suite, a Mark Levinson sound system, and an in-dash DVD player.

Most physical controls on the ES' dashboard are simply laid out and easy to reach from the driver's seat. The optional Remote Touch controller, located on the center console, is a joystick-like knob that makes it hard to operate the infotainment system.

Read more about interior »

ES Performance

ES Engine: One and Done

The 2018 Lexus ES' standard 3.5-liter V6 engine makes 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. That may not seem like a lot for a luxury car, but it's enough to get the ES moving quickly, whether from a stop or for highway passing. The standard six-speed automatic transmission performs admirably. Shifts are smooth and precise, in line with the engine's power delivery.

ES Gas Mileage: Not Too Impressive

The 2018 ES 350 gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is a little below average for a luxury midsize sedan but only because some rivals come with smaller, more fuel-efficient base engines.

If fuel efficiency is high on your list of priorities, consider the Lexus ES Hybrid. It returns 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, which are great figures for a luxury hybrid. The ES Hybrid starts at $41,820, just a little above the nonhybrid ES’ $38,950 price tag. You’ll save about $750 per year in fuel costs by going with the hybrid instead of the gas-only ES, which means you could make up the cost difference between the two models in just under four years.

ES Ride and Handling: Soft and Plush

The Lexus ES is not a car you buy if you want a sporty or engaging drive. It treats its occupants to a cloudlike ride, easily absorbing bumps and ruts in the road. There's not much handling feedback, but the ES is easy to pilot around turns thanks to its light steering.

Read more about performance »

ES Reliability

Is the Lexus ES Reliable?

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 receives a predicted reliability score of four out of five from J.D. Power. A rating of three out of five is considered average for all new cars.

Lexus ES Warranty

The 2018 Lexus ES comes 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 2018 Lexus ES 350 received a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five out of five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. At the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it was named a Top Safety Pick and received the agency's highest rating of Good in all crash tests.

ES Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features in the 2018 ES include a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and Lexus Enform Safety Connect with automatic collision notification and emergency services request. A standard pre-collision system consists of forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection. Optional advanced safety features include front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Read more about safety »

Which Lexus ES Model Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 sedan is only available in one trim. A hybrid version, the Lexus ES 300h, is reviewed separately. In lieu of higher trims, most options are added through packages that cost between roughly $1,500 and $3,500. You’ll want to at least check the box for the Luxury package, which includes leather upholstery and heated and ventilated front seats. A Navigation package might be tempting, but keep in mind that it comes with the widely panned Remote Touch controller. There are also several standalone options, including a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel ($300), a heated wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel ($450), a power trunk ($400), front and rear parking sensors ($500), blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert ($500), and bi-LED headlights ($515). Some packages may require the purchase of some individual options.

Lexus ES 350

The 2018 ES 350 starts at $38,950. Standard features include leatherette seats, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a USB port, an eight-speaker stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, proximity key entry, push-button start, a moonroof, an 8-inch infotainment display screen, a rearview camera, smartphone-linked navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and Lexus Enform Safety Connect.

Premier Package

The $1,480 Premier package includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and heated and ventilated front seats.

Luxury Package

You can also opt for the $1,670 Luxury package, which includes leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.

Ultra Luxury Package

For $3,500, the Ultra Luxury package comes with a panoramic glass roof, a power rear sunshade, leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.

Navigation Package

The $1,495 Navigation package adds navigation, voice command recognition, the widely disliked Remote Touch controller, and the Enform App Suite.

Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package

This last combination bundle costs $2,615 and features everything from the Navigation package plus a Mark Levinson premium audio system and an in-dash DVD player.

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 2018 Lexus ES specs and trims »

The Final Call

With a below-average price, a strong V6 engine, and a long list of standard features, the 2018 Lexus ES is a great value among luxury midsize sedans. Still, some rivals are more fun to drive and have more-intuitive features.

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

  • "Among midsize-luxury sedans, the 2018 Lexus ES 350 is about the closest thing to a sure bet. With its outstanding reliability and resale record, long list of luxury features and sophisticated styling, the 2018 ES is hard to fault. … Of course, most ES buyers flock to this sedan not for its world-class handling or sizzling off-the-line acceleration, but for its allegiance to the idea a luxury car should be as quiet and comfortable as it is responsive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "If you're looking for midsize luxury sedan that embodies quiet, comfortable transportation, the … Lexus ES 350 is a fine choice. You'll find many excellent sedans in this price range, though, so if you prefer a sporty driving experience or high-tech features, there are better options." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The verdict: The … Lexus ES 350 remains a hallmark of entry-level luxuriousness. … Versus the competition: The ES 350 is more of a practical luxury choice than a sporty one." -- Cars.com (2017)
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