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#16

in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $36,620 - $36,620
Invoice: $34,300 - $34,300
MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
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Lexus ES Performance

Test drivers say that the 2014 Lexus ES 350’s V6 engine is refined and powerful, and that its automatic transmission provides brisk, smooth shifts. Reviewers say the ES 350 offers a comfortable, quiet and pleasant ride. That said, they also point out that the steering has very little feel, and bland handling means that the ES isn’t likely to win the hearts of driving enthusiasts.

  • "It has never been one of the sportier models in the entry-level luxury sedan class, but between its smooth, refined V6 engine and quiet, composed ride, it's a pleasant car to drive nonetheless.” -- Edmunds
  • "Given that the ES350 drives like a reasonably powerful FWD entry-luxury sedan-it's sanitized to the point of blandness, perfectly capable at any speeds the average Lexus driver is likely to explore, quiet and extremely comfortable-driving impressions are mostly what one would expect." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "The enthusiast driver will find almost nothing to latch his soul to here." -- Motor Trend (2013)
  • "While this car won't compete in the sport-sedan segment, it was a surprise to feel how composed this once mundane family hauler was on twisty back roads." -- Road and Track (2013)
  • "What we have here are a decent powertrain, wafty suspension and very little in the way of steering feel. Sounds like the old ES, doesn't it? Granted, we didn't think the new car would be light-years better than the model it replaces, but we definitely didn't expect it to feel almost exactly the same." -- Autoblog (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Lexus ES has a V6 engine that makes 268 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. The ES gets an EPA-estimated 21/31 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for a V6-powered upscale midsize car.

Reviewers say the V6 engine is refined, sounds great and offers plenty of power for passing on the highway. Most auto writers say that the automatic transmission shifts smoothly, though one points out that it’s less sophisticated than those found in rivals like the Audi A4.

  • "The 2014 Lexus ES 350 delivers a refined driving experience that's bolstered by a V6 engine that's smooth and responsive." -- Edmunds
  • "Capable of sprinting to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds, the ES is no slouch and delivers ample power for passing or merging." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "The standard V-6 is a seasoned champ, frisky enough to serve in the Lotus Evora sports car. It's potent, smooth, and makes an aggressive yowl under a heavy foot." -- Motor Trend (2013)
  • "Torque steer, the arch-nemesis of fwd cars, is minimal, and the transmission shifts quickly in either automatic or manual modes." -- Road and Track (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the Lexus ES is tuned for a comfortable, smooth ride rather than sporty handling. Most reviewers dislike the ES 350’s steering system, which they say feels artificial and numb.

  • “However, don't expect complete isolation from road imperfections, as the current ES 350 is tuned to deliver more of a balance between out-and-out comfort and handling precision. Through turns, the steering is commendably accurate for a big sedan's, though the ES 350's Sport mode provides a welcome increase in steering effort as otherwise the steering feels a little too light in ‘Normal’ mode." -- Edmunds
  • "Body roll is reasonably controlled, but the ES still places the emphasis on a comfortable ride." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "The steering either feels non-communicative or downright fake. Take your pick." -- Autoblog (2013)
  • "Ride quality - a trademark of the previous car - remains sound. All ES models share the same suspension tuning." -- Cars.com (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

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