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2018 Lexus ES Overview

Willis Kuelthau
Automotive Editor - May 30, 2018

Lexus has been gradually making its line sportier, but underneath the aggressive styling the 2018 Lexus ES is old fashioned. It’s all about premium-badge luxury at a competitive price, and the hybrid option means efficiency doesn’t have to go out the window.

What's New for 2018

For 2018 the Lexus ES carries over without major changes. The only substantial addition is Lexus’ Enform Safety Connect, which includes services like stolen vehicle location, emergency roadside assistance, and maintenance alerts.

BMW 7 series

Choosing Your Lexus ES

Choosing a Lexus ES starts at the powertrain, which comes in gas-powered or hybrid configurations. The gas engine is a 3.5-liter V6 producing 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid pairs a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a total of 200 hp and 156 lb-ft. The gas engine is the quicker of the two, but it’s also thirstier: the EPA estimates mileage at 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. The hybrid bumps those numbers to an impressive 40/39/40 mpg.

The gas engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, but the hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The hybrid provides the usual three modes (Eco, Normal, and Sport) to customize throttle response. All ES models are front-wheel drive only.

Both models come with a healthy list of standard features, including 10-way power-adjustable seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker sound system, LED headlights, a rearview camera, and an eight-inch infotainment display. 17-inch alloy rims are standard, but 18-inchers are available as an option or among the various packages.

The two trims correspond to the powertrain choices: 350 for the gas engine and 300h for the hybrid. Both come with a choice of five packages: Premium, Luxury, Ultra-Luxury, Navigation, and Navigation/Premium Audio.

ES 350

The ES 350 starts at $39,895 after a $995 destination fee. Other than selecting exterior color and interior trim, customizing your Lexus ES 350 is simple—decide if you want any packages, then add options à la carte as needed.

Tech options begin at the Navigation Package, which costs an extra $1,495. It includes navigation (of course) on a high-resolution LCD screen, voice commands, a capable app suite, and even sports and stock updates. Tossing in another $1,120 gains the Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package, which includes the Navigation features plus a surround-sound system and an in-dash CD/DVD player

The Premium Package adds a wood-trimmed interior, a power tilt-and-telescope wheel, keyless entry, memory settings, heated and ventilated front seats, a leather steering wheel, and a 10-spoke rim pattern, all for $1,480. The Luxury Package includes all those options plus leather seats, which raises the price to $1,670.

Finally, the aptly named Ultra-Luxury Package adds a panoramic moonroof, power rear sunshade, ambient lighting, and a power cushion extender on the driver’s seat. The features from the Luxury Package are included as well, all for a cost of $3,500.

Oddly enough, none of those packages are available without selecting blind-spot monitoring and rear traffic alerts as a standalone option, which is another $500. Many elements from the packages are available on their own, like the 10-spoke rims ($40), leather steering wheel ($300, or $400 with heat), the moonroof ($500), and the power rear sunshade ($210). Other highlights are a powered trunk for $400, parking assist for $500, 18-inch rims for $880, and bi-LED headlamps for $515.

ES 300h

The hybrid version of the ES starts at $42,815. In addition to the usual standard features, the moonroof is standard on the 300h as well.

Inexplicably, both navigation packages cost $25 less on the hybrid, though they include the same features. That means $1,470 for the Navigation Package, and $2,590 for the Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio.

The Premium Package here includes the wood trim, power-adjust steering wheel, keyless entry, and memory settings, but no longer includes heated/ventilated seats or a leather steering wheel. That drops the price down to $730. The luxury adds those features back, plus a leather-trimmed interior, for $1,670.

The Ultra-Luxury Package keeps the same features as it did on the 350, but because the moonroof is already standard, the price drops to $3,000.

But once again, Lexus makes you select options before unlocking packages. The Premium package requires adding the leather wheel as a $300 option, and both the Navigation packages require that the Premium Package already be added. The Luxury and Ultra-Luxury Packages both require the option for blind-spot monitoring and rear-traffic alerts, which remains $500. Confused yet?

The standalone options largely carry over from the 350. A heated steering wheel is now $450, and the 18-inch rims aren’t available, but otherwise selections are the same.

CarsDirect Tip

Despite being the second-cheapest Lexus sedan, the ES gets expensive in a hurry after a package or two. The good news is that the standard features are plentiful, and Lexus’ renowned reliability costs nothing. Neither trim will please sportier drivers, but the hybrid is impressively efficient for a big sedan.

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