Available in three distinct flavours, the 2023 Lexus ES is the midsize luxury sedan engineered for those who prefer a quiet cabin, refined ride, modern styling, and the latest technologies.
Starting at $46,850, before freight and taxes, the ES 250 is the all-wheel drive option for those who want extra traction. The ES 350 starts at $50,550, and with 302 hp it’s the ES of choice for those who want a more exciting driving experience. Finally, the gas-electric ES 300h, which starts at $52,500 and boasts a combined fuel economy of 5.3 L/100 km, is the ES for those who prioritize fuel efficiency but still want luxury, too.
Sleek and muscular, the ES – and this 300h hybrid version in particular – is offered with expanded F Sport Design offerings for 2023, which means you can make the already athletic sedan model look even more jacked with the help of special alloy wheels, an exterior appearance package, and a rear spoiler. The cabin looks as upscale as the price tag would suggest. An eye-pleasing colour scheme and quality materials abound, while graphics are crisp and all the buttons and knobs feel right. While some Lexus interiors may have felt rather bland and vanilla in the past, the ES is thoroughly modern and sophisticated.
The ES gets a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and no matter which trim you choose, they all come fully-loaded with the most advanced safety systems and technologies. Besides 10 airbags, every ES comes with advanced features like lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beam headlights, lane tracing assist (prevents you from wandering out of your lane), forward collision warning with pedestrian and bicycle detection, front-to-front risk detection (automatically applies the brakes to help avoid head-on collisions), left turn intersection support (warns you of pedestrians or oncoming vehicles when making a left hand turn) and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is also standard, while rear pedestrian detection is available as part of a package on ES 350 and ES 300h models.
Besides a few nice-to-have features, the ES is very well equipped. Every model comes with a smart key and push-button start, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a heated steering wheel, eight-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats with two-way power-adjustable lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control with dust, pollen and deodorizing air filter, and much more.
A 12.3-inch touchscreen and wireless charging are standard in the ES 350 and ES 300h and optional in the ES 250, which has an eight-inch screen as standard. Although all the ES models come pretty much fully-loaded, Lexus offers a number of packages you can add on for even more creature comforts. Some of the more notable items in these packages include an adaptive suspension, engine sound enhancement, a surround-sound stereo with 17 speakers, head-up display, panoramic sunroof, and power rear window sunshade, just to name a few.
Lexus has done a great job designing the layout of the interior. The focal point of the cockpit is the impressive touchscreen with crisp graphics and an easy-to-use interface. All features and functions are intuitive and user-friendly. Connecting to the wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is easy, and once your phone is connected the system works well. Wireless charging is a welcome feature, and it works flawlessly. Front- and rear-seat occupants will find it easy to get in and out of the ES, and the seats are comfortable and supportive.
While the ES has room for five, whoever draws the short straw and has to sit in the middle seat in the second row won’t be a happy camper. At 394 L, the trunk is larger than what competitors like the Acura TLX (382 L), Audi A4 (340 L), or BMW 3 Series (368 L) offer, but the rear seat does not fold down, which means you won’t always be able to fit larger items in the trunk on your weekly big box store run.
Subdued and quiet, the interior of the ES is a sanctuary of solace where noises from the outside world are shunned. Occupants are isolated from the bumps and thumps of the world, while both road and wind noise come across as mere whispers you almost have to strain to hear. It’s a soothing experience where even the engine is hard to detect, except when you stomp on the accelerator.
All models come with seats covered in synthetic leather, but it feels so real you won’t believe that it’s not. Authentic leather is available as an option in the ES 350 and ES 300h
Depending on which model you get, you may be thrilled with the engine or simply satisfied. The ES 250 comes with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that produces 203 hp. The same engine is used in the ES 300h, but with the addition of the hybrid system, power output is slightly higher at 215 hp The ES 350 has the biggest and most powerful engine: a 3.5L V6 that produces a total of 302 hp.
While the ES 250 and ES 350 get eight-speed automatic transmissions, the ES 300h comes with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) that can be a bit whiny when you mash the accelerator. This tester, the ES 300h, clearly wasn’t designed to offer neck-snapping acceleration. Rather, its forte is fuel economy. Although it never felt as though it couldn’t pass another vehicle or accelerate quickly from a dead stop, if you enjoy more spirited driving and want more grunt out of your engine, then you’ll definitely prefer the ES 350 instead.
Driving Feel: 9/10
Luxury car shoppers will appreciate the civilized ride and composed handling of the ES. Although it’s not for customers who want to toss their cars into corners, the ES can certainly handle bouts of spirited driving between an otherwise serene experience.
You do tend to feel a bit isolated from the road when driving an ES, but then again that has its appeal. If you like to feel connected to the road, and want to feel every undulation in the road underneath, then the ES is not for you.
Fuel Economy: 9/10
According to Natural Resources Canada, ES 250 is rated at 9.5 L/100 km in the city, 7.0 on the highway, and 8.4 combined. Due to its larger engine, the ES 350 is rated at 10.7 in the city, 7.3 on the highway, and 9.2 combined.
The hybrid ES 300h has by far the best fuel economy of the bunch: 5.5 around town, 5.2 on the open road, and 5.3 combined. This test returned an average closer to 7.3 L/100 km combined.
In comparison, Natural Resources Canada rates the Acura TLX at either 9.8 or 11.0 L/100 km combined, depending on the engine; the Audi A4 is rated at 8.7 or 9.1 ; and the BMW 330i is rated at 8.6 L/100 km.
You can get a very well equipped ES 250 starting at $46,850, an ES 350 starting at $50,550, and an ES 300h starting at $52,600, before fees and taxes. Freight adds $2,205 to every trim, and that charge is non-negotiable.
In comparison, a well-equipped Acura TLX starts at $52,000, a well-equipped BMW 3 Series starts at $55,000, and while the Audi A4 starts at $48,950, you’ll have to pay extra for some of the more advanced safety systems the ES comes with as standard equipment.
The 2023 Lexus ES isn’t cheap, but none of the sedans in this midsize segment are. You get what you pay for, and whether you’re shopping for power, fuel economy, or all-wheel drive, Lexus has an ES for you. If you take advantage of the F Sport appearance packages, you can even dress up your luxury ride with a bit more attitude and style. With an inviting interior, a refined ride, and with a full roster of advanced safety technologies and other amenities and creature comforts, it’s definitely a top contender in the luxury sedan segment.
|Engine Cylinders||I4 Hybrid|
|Peak Horsepower||215 hp|
|Fuel Economy||5.5 / 5.2 / 5.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||394 L|
|Model Tested||2023 Lexus ES 300h|
|Price as Tested||$57,405|
$2,500 – F Sport Design package, $2,500