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2018 Lexus ES Review

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 finishes near the top of our luxury midsize car rankings. This sedan offers a comfortable ride, a strong engine, and plenty of features, making it one of the more enticing options in the class.

Pros & Cons

  • Supple ride quality
  • Strong standard engine
  • Upscale interior and plenty of standard features
  • Great predicted reliability rating
  • Lackluster handling
  • Frustrating infotainment controls




Critics' Rating: 8.3
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 7.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.1
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Lexus ES Overview

Is the 2018 Lexus ES 350 a Good Used Car?

Yes, the Lexus ES 350 is a good used luxury midsize car. While it isn't the most fun-to-drive car in the class, the ES delivers on just about every other front. It's a great car for both the daily commute and a long road trip, though some drivers may have trouble with the finicky infotainment controller.

Take note of the 2018 ES' many strengths:

  • Potent V6 engine
  • Outstanding predicted reliability rating
  • Stylish interior design with high-end materials
  • Long list of standard and available features, including lots of active safety tech
  • Two rows of spacious seats
  • Below-average projected five-year ownership costs

And its short list of weaknesses:

  • Remote Touch controller is distracting to use while driving
  • Uninspiring handling

Lexus also built a hybrid version of this sedan, which you can read about in our separate Lexus ES300h review.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our Lexus ES review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 42 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than a combined 75 years of automotive industry experience. To ensure our impartiality, we never accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Lexus ES?

Based on listings for the 2018 Lexus ES on our site, the average price is $35,800. Prices range from $32,000 to $40,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Lexus ES Cost to Own?

The 2018 ES’ five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $26,750, or $5,350 per year. That’s below average for a luxury midsize car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New ES?

The price of a completely redesigned 2019 Lexus ES 350 starts at $39,750, and it has some notable changes over the 2018 model. The 2019 ES gets an additional 34 horsepower from its V6 engine, and a more athletic F Sport variant joins the lineup. New standard features for 2019 include a Wi-Fi hot spot and traffic sign recognition, and features like Apple CarPlay and a 12.3-inch display are newly available. If these updates aren't important to you, consider sticking with a used 2018 model instead of a new one. Doing so could save you thousands of dollars.

Read about the new Lexus ES »

For the Lexus ES, 2018 marked the final model year of a generation that began for 2013. There were few changes over these years. The 2016 model received minor styling updates, while the 2017 model gained several new standard driver assistance features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The ES saw no notable updates for 2018.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 ES »

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How Reliable Is the 2018 Lexus ES?

The 2018 Lexus ES has an excellent predicted reliability rating of five out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about ES reliability »

2018 Lexus ES Recalls

At the time of writing, there are no recalls for the 2018 Lexus ES.

See more information on Lexus ES safety recalls »

Which Used Lexus ES Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 sedan is only available in one trim. Standard features in the ES include synthetic leather upholstery, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker stereo, satellite radio, an 8-inch infotainment display, a rearview camera, navigation, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, a moonroof, and more.

In lieu of higher trims, Lexus added most options for the ES through available packages that include features such as heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic glass roof, the Remote Touch controller, a Mark Levinson sound system, an in-dash DVD player, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. That means that you can potentially find a 2018 ES equipped with any or all of these features.

Lexus also built a hybrid version of this sedan, which you can read about in our separate Lexus ES300h review.

See 2018 Lexus ES trims and specs »

What Does Lexus' Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Lexus offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles five years old or less and with fewer than 70,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Lexus extends its original new-car warranty to six years or unlimited mileage. From the day you purchase or lease your Lexus CPO vehicle, you receive complimentary maintenance covering the next four factory-recommended services for two years or 20,000 miles. Every CPO Lexus must pass a 161-point inspection. Additional benefits like loaner cars, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Lexus warranty page carefully.

According to our analysis, Lexus has the best CPO program in the industry.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the ES?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 Lexus ES the highest rating of Good in five crash tests and named it a 2018 Top Safety Pick. The ES also earned the top rating of Superior for front crash prevention. ES models equipped with halogen reflector headlights earned the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well they illuminate the road ahead, while models equipped with Bi-LED headlamps received the second-lowest rating of Marginal.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 ES an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. It received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover evaluations.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • forward collision warning
  • automatic emergency braking
  • pedestrian detection
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane departure warning
  • lane keep assist

Available advanced safety features:

  • front and rear parking sensors
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert

See ES safety scores »

2018 Lexus ES Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Lexus ES or 2018 Audi A6?

The 2018 Audi A6 can't match the ES' predicted reliability rating, but in some respects it's a better all-around car. The Audi is more fun to drive than the Lexus, and it offers two powertrains – including a performance-oriented option – that are more powerful than the ES' V6 engine. The A6 has a beautiful interior with two rows of comfortable seats, and it includes plenty of features. The one big drawback for the A6, besides its predicted reliability rating, is its much higher projected ownership costs.

Which Is Better: 2018 Lexus ES or 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has one of the poshest interiors in the luxury midsize car class. The front seats are supple, and the E-Class comes with features the ES doesn't offer, like Android Auto, driver drowsiness monitoring, and a 12.3-inch infotainment display. Both of these cars come as sedans, but you can also get the Mercedes in coupe and convertible body styles. The E-Class handles better than the ES, and it offers two high-performance models, but the Mercedes doesn't have anything in its lineup to compete with the ES Hybrid. On some fronts, the Mercedes is the better car, but the Lexus' much higher predicted reliability rating earns it a higher ranking.

Compare the ES, A6, and E-Class »

2018 ES Performance

How Does the 2018 Lexus ES Drive?

This Lexus' V6 provides plenty of power and good acceleration, and the smooth-shifting transmission pairs well with the engine. This sedan is composed around turns, but it lacks the agile feel and engaging handling of some competitors. Ride quality is a priority in the ES, and the suspension easily absorbs road imperfections.

  • Base engine: 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6
  • Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic
Does the 2018 Lexus ES Get Good Gas Mileage?

The ES 350 isn't as fuel-efficient as many of the other luxury midsize cars.

  • 21/30 mpg city/highway

Read more about ES performance »

2018 ES Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 ES Seat?

The 2018 ES seats five people in two rows. This Lexus has a stylish interior that incorporates plenty of premium materials. The front seats are comfortable and spacious. The rear seats have plenty of head- and legroom, even for taller adults. The available panoramic glass roof cuts into headroom somewhat.

Standard seating features:

  • synthetic leather upholstery
  • 10-way power-adjustable front seats

Available seating features:

  • genuine leather upholstery
  • heated and ventilated front seats
  • heated steering wheel
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Lexus ES?

The 2018 ES has two complete sets of LATCH child car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The system receives a top rating of Good for ease of use from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety because there aren't any issues with any of the anchor points.

2018 Lexus ES Features

It's easy to reach the center stack controls from the driver's seat, and adjusting climate and audio functions is a cinch. The available Remote Touch controller works like a computer mouse, which seems cool until you have to operate it; it's irritating and distracting to use on the move.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth, a USB port, an eight-speaker stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, and smartphone-linked navigation
  • Available infotainment features: the Remote Touch controller, navigation, voice command recognition, the Enform App Suite, a Mark Levinson sound system, and an in-dash DVD player
  • Additional standard features: automatic climate control, push-button start, and a moonroof
  • Other available features: a panoramic glass roof

See 2018 Lexus ES specs »

Read more about ES interior »

2018 Lexus ES Dimensions

Lexus ES Cargo Space

The Lexus ES has 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space. That's a decent number for a luxury midsize car. However, unlike many rivals, the ES does not have a fold-down rear seat, which means you don't get any extra flexibility if you need to haul large items. A power trunk lid is optional.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Lexus ES Length and Weight
  • Length: 16 feet, 1 inch
  • Curb weight: 3,571 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight rating: 4,696 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Lexus ES Built?

Lexus built the 2018 ES in Kentucky.

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