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2018 Lexus ES Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Lexus ES was new.


Performance: 7.5

The 2018 Lexus ES is focused on comfort above all else. Its sole available engine, a V6, provides good power but poor fuel economy. The ES has an admirable ride, but if you’re looking for sporty handling, look elsewhere.

  • "If a smooth ride and a hushed cabin are your idea of luxury, you'll find much to like in the 2018 Lexus ES 350." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The … Lexus ES 350 delivers a refined and comfortable driving experience, bolstered by a healthy V6 engine that's smooth and responsive." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "But while the recently redesigned ES features more aggressive exterior styling than its predecessor, calling it a sports sedan would of course be a stretch. This front-wheel-drive, Camry-based cruiser is still focused on gliding over bumps and keeping the outside world at bay." -- Autotrader (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The ES comes standard with a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. The ES gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which is on the lower end of class estimates. Power and acceleration from the V6 are strong, and the transmission delivers smooth shifts.

  • "With 268 horsepower, the 3.5-liter V6 engine that's standard in the 2018 Lexus ES 350 has plenty of grunt to get this sedan moving quickly. It's connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission that's a model of smooth operation." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Power comes on strong and is well-controlled by a crisp-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission. I prefer a well-built six-speed over a half-baked dual-clutch or eight-speed automatic transmission, but the ES 350's EPA-estimated gas mileage isn't very impressive. It's rated just 21/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined, and that's where small, turbocharged engines and more advanced transmissions help." -- Cars.com (2017)
  • "The ES 350's tried-and-true V6 is a Toyota/Lexus mainstay. But it's still a fantastic engine, ready to emit a subdued growl when revved hard. That's not typical ES-driver behavior, of course, but it's good to know the performance is there." -- Autotrader (2017)

Handling and Braking

The ES focuses on providing a plush ride quality, absorbing rough pavement while limiting road and wind noise. However, handling and other driving dynamics are fairly unexciting.

  • "The ES soaks up road imperfections like a sponge in water, yet its driving dynamics are far from soft or disconnected." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "At highway speeds, the cabin remains remarkably silent with little wind, road or engine noise. Bumps and ruts in the road are also nicely absorbed, though the extreme isolation results in a less engaging driving experience." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "Sportiness is not the ES 350's strongest characteristic; in fact, it doesn't do sport well at all. You may think that's a knock against a car priced in a range that preaches sportiness (BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4), but the ES 350's casual ride quality is refreshing. Lexus hasn't ruined the way the ES 350 cruises down the highway by trying to make it handle well." -- Cars.com (2017)

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