SUM UP (3 Stars)

By Automobile Magazine

What's New for ES350 in 2014

After a thorough redesign for 2013, the 2014 Lexus ES gains only small changes: HID headlights now include LED fog lamps, heated/ventilated front seats are available in perforated NuLuxe (synthetic leather), and Siri Eyes Free is available...
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Vehicle Overview

The Lexus ES is based on the Toyota Avalon platform (no longer the smaller Camry), and offers a hybrid powertrain alongside the standard V-6. It fits below the GS and above the smaller CT in the Lexus lineup, while the similarly priced IS sedan captures buyers after a more sporty driving experience.

Summary

The Lexus ES comes in two styles: V-6 power, and hybrid efficiency. The 268-hp 3.5-liter V-6 makes 248 lb-ft of torque and gets paired to a six-speed automatic, which results in an EPA-estimated 21/31 mpg city/highway. The hybrid powertrain joins a 2.5-liter I-4 and an electric motor to a CVT for a net 200 hp and an EPA-estimated 40/39 mpg. Whatever the powertrain choice, the interior is well appointed with a number of expected luxury features. Available highlights includes the 835-watt Mark Levinson sound system, heated/ventilated front seats, bamboo interior trim selection, 40-inches of rear legroom, and driver-selectable drive modes.

Both variants of the 2014 Lexus ES (the ES 350 and ES 300h) received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and were considered Top Safety Picks by the IIHS for 2013, but have not yet been tested in the small front overlap category, so they have not met the criteria to be fully evaluated for 2014.

What We Think

In a Driven review of a 2013 ES 350 we said, “The engine is plenty powerful and it's genuinely rewarding to experience how the revs build quickly, smoothly, and almost musically toward the top end of the tachometer. The six-speed automatic is well behaved, though largely unexceptional compared to the fast-acting, telepathic behavior or BMW and Audi's eight-speed automatics.” During the drive we noted, “Body roll is reasonably controlled, but the ES still places the emphasis on a comfortable ride. To that end, the updated car boasts revised suspension components and geometry that calm some of the higher frequency disturbances that made their way to the driver's seat in the previous model.

While cabin quietness mostly lived up to our expectations, some of Oregon's coarse road surfaces incited tire roar that was impossible to ignore.” The hybrid ES 300h (powertrain borrowed from the Camry and Avalon hybrids) actually encroaches on the territory of the smaller CT 200h, while still delivering a driving experience that one comes to expect from Lexus. As with the CT, we opted to keep the car in sport mode, as it was closest to what a car should feel like, while normal and eco strangled the performance too much.

You’ll Like

  • V-6 power and refinement
  • Hybrid still drives like a Lexus
  • 40 inches of rear legroom

You Won’t Like

  • App-integration for infotainment locks out certain apps at speed
  • Some features, standard on the competition, are extra on the Lexus
  • Reasonable acceleration kicks you out of EV mode immediately

Key Competitors

  • Buick LaCrosse eAssist
  • Lincoln MKZ 2.0H hybrid
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Kia Cadenza
  • Cadillac CTS

Rating

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