Related articles
Test Drive: 2012 Acura TSX Tech
Test Drive: 2012 Buick Regal GS
Test Drive: 2013 Lexus ES 300h
Test Drive: 2013 Lincoln MKS
Test Drive: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD

Manufacturer’s Website
Lexus Canada

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

Photo Gallery:
2013 Lexus ES 350

You’d do well to cue up Sade’s “Smooth Operator” while you’re reading this.

The newest version of Lexus’ venerable ES model is the best one yet. That’s what Lexus is telling us. Yes, what’s underneath is shared with a multitude of vehicles in the Toyota and Lexus family. And yes, it’s good stuff that’s being shared, and Lexus did a good job making improvements to this generation. But has everything improved?

The ES 350 starts at $39,500. That’s the well-equipped base model, to which you can add up to $12,250 in option packages.

There’s nothing terribly exciting under the hood. Lexus’ familiar 3.5L V6 makes yet another appearance, putting out familiar numbers. 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, and 248 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. The power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. The ES 300h hybrid version we have covered exhaustively in other reviews.

Fuel economy is pretty good even in the non-hybrid. The ES 350 is rated at 9.9 L/100 km in the city and 6.4 L/100 km on the highway. I managed to eke out 10.7 L/100 km during essentially all city driving, in cold weather and snow, with no effort to conserve fuel. The fuel tank holds 65 L.

Test Drive: 2013 Lexus ES 350 car test drives luxury cars lexus Test Drive: 2013 Lexus ES 350 car test drives luxury cars lexus Test Drive: 2013 Lexus ES 350 car test drives luxury cars lexus Test Drive: 2013 Lexus ES 350 car test drives luxury cars lexus
2013 Lexus ES 350. Click image to enlarge

I found the ES looked more stretched out than previous generations (the wheelbase has, in fact, been extended), and I liked its sleeker stance. Up front, you’ll find Lexus’ new corporate snout, the spindle grille. The headlight pods house a strip of LED running lights, and the foglights are nicely integrated into the air dam.

I liked that there wasn’t too much drama on the sides, and I enjoyed the flanks that show up behind the rear doors, making up part of the trunk lid plane.

The roof line seems lower than before, and the rump sports fresh taillights.

Test Drive: 2013 Lexus ES 350 car test drives luxury cars lexus
Test Drive: 2013 Lexus ES 350 car test drives luxury cars lexus
2013 Lexus ES 350. Click image to enlarge

The wheels are a surprisingly small (by today’s standards) 17-inch diameter. It doesn’t look bad, but to be clear, the 18-inch upgrade rims look much better.

Overall, I found the evolved ES to be the handsomest and least stodgy-looking ES yet. If it sounds like I’m excited about the new ES’ looks, I’m not. It’s all relative – it certainly is more exciting than the last one.

The fit and finish in the ES are exemplary. Although the materials are wonderful to look at and you’ll find soft-touch materials almost anywhere your hand might fall, I did encounter more hard plastics than I expected. You’ll also find nice stitching, contrasting trim and interesting “eyebrow” sculpting.

Entry is keyless – the ignition is push-start.

The interior is roomy. Headroom is decent (for my 5’10” frame) and the cabin feels wide and spacious. The 10-way power adjustable heated seats are clad in NuLuxe, a nice faux leather, and are very comfortable.

The power-adjustable steering wheel has controls for audio, hands-free operation, phone and the driver information screen.

Behind it sit two large gauges, separated by a great driver information screen. The graphics and fonts are crisp and the information is kept simple and useful.

Connect with Autos.ca