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. In hybrid form, the 2018 ES 300h delivers up to 40 mpg without any measurable loss in performance.
You'll Like The 2018 Lexus ES If...
The 2018 Lexus ES 350 luxury sedan and ES 300h hybrid-luxury sedan appeal to buyers looking for a premium sedan with a heavy emphasis on reliability, safety and passenger pampering, although hybrid buyers will sacrifice some trunk space to the system’s battery pack.
You May Not Like The 2018 Lexus ES If...
The front-drive Lexus ES 350 for 2018 can’t hold a candle to the performance credentials of rear-drive sedans like the BMW 5 Series, Infiniti Q50 or Cadillac CTS, and Lexus doesn’t offer an all-wheel-drive or a diesel-engine option.
Lexus’ ES 350 and ES 300h hybrid for 2018 see only minor changes. The Premier package replaces last year’s Premium package, while the Enform Safety and Service Connect free trial period is extended to the first 10 years of ownership.
The 2018 Lexus ES 350 luxury sedan boasts upscale interior materials and the exacting fit and finish we’ve come to expect in Lexus vehicles. All models offer a centrally mounted multimedia screen above the center air vents, operated by a console-mounted mouse-like Remote Touch system, which some find overly sensitive and frustrating to use. The drive-mode selector in front of the shift handle allows drivers to switch among Normal, Sport or Eco modes with the push of a button. The seats are comfortable and the interior is roomy enough for four adults. Rear-seat legroom is ample.
Once the very definition of a conservative sedan, the current-generation Lexus ES has taken on a bold new look with sleek lines and the aggressive Lexus "spindle" grille. Yet it retains an elegant look that has the 2018 ES and ES hybrid falling right in line with the sporty Lexus IS sedan and RC coupe. Flared fenders and narrow windows give this Lexus a tough masculine look, and the lines flow smoothly from nose to tail. We like the sporty twin tailpipes on the ES 350, and that you can upgrade from the standard 17-inch wheels to a cool set of 18s.
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 and ES 300h hybrid-luxury sedans. The ES soaks up road imperfections like a sponge in water, yet its driving dynamics are far from soft or disconnected. Acceleration from the 3.5-liter V6 is robust, attaining 60 mph in just over seven seconds. A more aggressive driving style can be dialed in, thanks to the ES 350’s Sport mode that delivers more aggressive shift points for quicker passing and merging. This same feature on the hybrid offers even more thrills, thanks in part to the added torque from the hybrid electric-motor setup. The ES 300h hybrid is actually a more aggressive driver than the gasoline-powered ES 350, although when placed in Eco mode, both throttle response and powertrain reaction feel a bit dull.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2018 Lexus ES 350 is right around $40,000, including the $995 destination charge. If you want hybrid power, the ES 300h starts just under $43,000. Add options, and you can inflate the price of either car to just over the $50,000 mark, a relative bargain for a luxury brand. That's higher than cars like the Genesis G80 and the surprisingly good Buick LaCrosse, but notably less than cars like the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are actually paying for the 2018 Lexus ES in your area. Down the road, sleep well knowing that a strong resale value is one of the strongest selling points for the Lexus ES.
Every new ES comes with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a HomeLink garage-door opener. Also standard is the Lexus Safety System+ package that includes Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam (IHB) and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Bluetooth, heated outside mirrors, 10-way power-adjustable front seats and a rearview camera are also standard as are the sedan’s 10 airbags, and Lexus' Automatic Collision Notification, which notifies emergency assistance in the event of an accident.
Among features available on the lengthy options list for the 2018 ES 350 and hybrid ES 300h are a navigation system, leather and aniline-leather seats that can be heated and ventilated, a panorama glass roof, power rear sunshade, and an awesome Mark Levinson premium sound system. It also offers radar cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, parking assist and blind-spot monitoring. Fully loaded examples will also feature a heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, a one-touch power trunklid, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, memory seats, door sunshades and perhaps the ultimate luxury, a genuine wood-trimmed cup holder.
While some companies have been forced to roll back their rosy hybrid EPA fuel estimates, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h easily lives up to the impressive figures posted on its window sticker. Our test regularly saw a combined 40-mpg figure, even when pushing the 200-horsepower hybrid powertrain to its limits.
From its 835-watt, 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio to its heated steering wheel and panoramic sunroof, the Lexus ES luxury sedans for 2018 never fail to impress. Additional options include heated and ventilated front seats, intuitive park assist and a host of driver-assist safety features.
Under the Hood
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. Fuel economy is good for the class, but if saving fuel is part of your luxury experience, then the hybrid powertrain in the Lexus ES 300h is what you need. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine combines with an electric motor to develop a total of 200 horsepower, routing it through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). That's enough power for day-to-day driving, while also offering fantastic fuel economy. Both Lexus ES models are available only in front-wheel drive, and both run on regular 87-octane gasoline.
3.5-liter V6 (ES 350)
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg
2.5-liter inline-4 + hybrid electric motor and nickel-metal hydride battery module (ES 300h)
156 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm (gasoline engine alone)
Total system horsepower: 200
156 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm (gasoline engine)
EPA fuel city/highway fuel economy: 40/39 mpg
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. In hybrid form, the 2018 ES 300h delivers up to 40 mpg without any measurable loss in performance. 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. Sure, you can get better performance from a BMW 5 Series or Cadillac CTS, but you won’t find the same sense of serenity on the open road.