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Road Tested: The 2018 Lexus ES350

Written By | Sep 23, 2018

SEATTLE:  Even though the car hasn’t seen any major changes since 2012, the 2018 Lexus ES350 continues to be a hot-seller for Lexus and is the number-one selling vehicle in its class. The chief reason for this is that it starts at under $40,000.

Built on the same chassis as the Toyota Camry and Avalon, the ES350 is a rather roomy mid-priced sedan that is only available with front wheel drive. Powered by a 3.5 liter V6, the horsepower is an acceptable 268 horsepower with and 248 lb-ft of torque.

2018 Lexus ES350 Stats

The vehicle weight is just over 3,600 pounds, so you’ll see 0-60 times around 6.8 seconds. Not a speed demon at all but still adequate of getting out of the way when you need it to. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission option available and it shifts remarkably smooth through all of the gears.

While driving the ES350, it’s easy to understand why this car is so popular. It rides extremely well, is super quiet and feels like a well-put-together vehicle. It doesn’t do any one thing extremely well but does a good enough job with its adept handling, decent power-band and comfort that it is a compelling value in its price range.

Very few vehicles offer its level of refinement for under $40k – even if elements of it are a tad dated.

There is a bit of under-steer present, which is standard for most front-wheel-drive setups, however, it’s predictable and easy to adjust for.


Inside the 2018 Lexus ES350

When it comes to safety, there are collision detectors as well as adaptive cruise control. However, it’s an older system so it doesn’t work for stop and go traffic. You’ll have to finish braking and accelerating again after coming to a stop.

Inside the cabin, we have a mix of old and new. Old in the sense that there is still a great deal of plastic surfaces.  New in the sense of the technology. Including an updated touch-pad to control the infotainment system. In what is perhaps the worst interface available,

Lexus keeps doubling down on its problematic touch-pad setup that controls the on-screen commands of the infotainment system. Sure, you can get better at using it, over time.  But it’s far less intuitive than other interface options we see from competitors.

The sound of the 2018 Lexus ES350

The Nakamichi sound system offers superb sound quality and the screen clarity is very good. It’s a very easy to read display and does an adequate job with its built-in navigation. Thanks to voice commands – which work rather well – you won’t need to use the fussy touch-pad too often.


While the seats aren’t fully leather – they’re a “pleather” of sorts, they offer superb comfort, even for those long distance journeys. Ample leg room abounds for all passengers and there is seating available for five, however, it’s more conducive to four.

A large middle armrest folds down for rear passengers and there are rear vents for the climate system, however, no rear controls. Additionally, there is a DC power outlet back there as well.

Wrapping up:

While the ES350 has a lot going for it and offers a compelling value, the car is slated for a makeover in the 2019 model year. This means that it will likely bring about more current features but it also means if you wait a bit, that the prices on the 2018 could soften a bit.

However, if you can’t wait for the 2019, then this current year still makes a solid value that demonstrates why it’s a best-seller.

Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a lifestyle writer and CDNs Auto Editor. Pemberton loves anything that helps bring people together which is why he writes about food, wine, cars, and travel.