Hitting the absolute center of the class, the 2023 Lexus ES 350 represents a pretty good value.
Surprisingly, there are still a fair number of midsize sedans out there from virtually every luxury marque. With that in mind, is this Lexus ES still relevant among so many rivals?
The 2023 Lexus ES 350 featured in this video can trace its heritage all the way back to the late 1980s. Even in the early days, the ES was a logical, if somewhat underwhelming, option for the premium crowd. Usually, it sat near the entry level, and was on par with Buick and Lincoln products (among others). Ironically, none of those brands build sedans anymore.
Don’t let that sway you into the argument that crossovers have replaced all the sedans in this class — they haven’t. As a matter of fact, there are a TON of competitors in this class. Considering the various flavors you can get in the Lexus ES, it goes up against a massive group of luxury sedans.
Remember: the Lexus ES 350 we tested in this video comes with a 302 horsepower V6 and front-wheel drive. Other ES’ powertrains include hybrid and all-wheel drive.
With all of these powertrains, and with a rock-solid reputation for reliability, the ES has its hands full. Competitors from Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Genesis, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo – among others – are all relevant. While some are more advanced, and others are sportier, few can match the ES’ value. The 2023 Lexus ES 350 F Sport “Handling” in this video hovers around $53,000, but even the base ($43K) ES 250 gives you tons of luxury for the money.
No, it’s not a Camry in a tuxedo…
Sure, the Lexus ES has always shared drive components with the Camry and Avalon, but the tuning and character is totally different. For one thing: the interior is outstanding, both in fit and finish. The interior quality and design is outstanding, typical Lexus, but now it has a (finally) modern infotainment screen. There are other updates, which are covered in the video.
I’ve driven every Camry, and every ES. Unless you were told that they have similar powertrains, many of you wouldn’t know. That’s especially true with the ES F-Sport Handling package in this tester. The beefed up suspension is dialed in with enough isolation to make it feel almost European. If you’re obliged, ripping around corners and banging the eight-speed transmission (via paddle shifters) is possible, and somewhat rewarding. At the same time, it’s smooth and compliant.
If you’re hankering for real performance out of a Lexus sedan, look to the IS (particularly the IS 500).