Our Luxury Car Best Buy of 2023
Famously comfortable, reliable
Rear seats don’t fold
The Lexus ES is our highest-rated luxury car in its segment and a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award winner. Pricing starts at $41,340.
The heart wants a new luxury car, the head says it’s OK to buy a 2023 Lexus ES sedan. If the ES had to be described in two words, they could be responsible indulgence.
Compared with its rivals, the ES is priced competitively. And it holds its value well. That’s why we’ve made the ES a winner of the KBB Best Buy award for its class five years in a row.
The ES isn’t just responsible from a fiscal point of view, especially if we’re talking about the ES 300h hybrid, which is classified as a super ultra-low emissions vehicle. Even the non-hybrid variants qualify as low-emissions vehicles.
Yet there’s still the indulgence of fine cabin materials and superb build quality, a cushioned ride, plus plenty of room for adults in both rows.
The 2023 Lexus ES
2023 Lexus ES pricing
The 2023 Lexus ES starts at $41,340. For that price, you can choose a smaller engine with all-wheel drive (ES 250 AWD) or a more powerful engine with front-wheel drive (ES 350). Hybrid power is available starting at $42,540 (ES 300h). With all the bells and whistles, the ES tips into the low-$50,000 range.
In the context of midsize luxury sedans, the 2023 Lexus ES pricing is sharply competitive. The Genesis G80 is priced from about $50K, with the Audi A6, BMW 5
Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Volvo
S90 all starting in the mid-to-high 50s.
2023 Lexus ES: Starting at $41,340
Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
8-inch infotainment touchscreen
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Simulated leather seating surfaces (perforated)
10-way power-adjustable front seats
17-inch alloy wheels
2023 Lexus ES Luxury: Starting at $46,510
Diamond-stitched/perforated semi-aniline leather upholstery
Wood/leather heated steering wheel
14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
Powered rear shade
18-inch alloy wheels
Rear parking sensors
2023 Lexus ES Ultra Luxury: Starting at $50,130
12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen
Manual rear side-window shades
Noise-reducing 18-inch alloy wheels
360-degree camera system
Rear pedestrian detection
Before buying a new ES luxury sedan, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to know what you should really pay. Owners often praise the Lexus dealership experience as more pleasurable than most.
Read: Buying a car from the factory sounds expensive, but it can actually save you money. Here’s how to do it.
Class-leading resale values
In typical Lexus fashion, the ES has the strongest resale values in the luxury midsize sedan category, reducing the overall ownership costs. Even though buyers of luxury cars don’t need to be especially careful with expenses, they still like a good deal.
The 2023 Lexus ES
What’s new for 2023?
The most dramatic change to the Lexus ES this year is the infotainment system update. The universally unloved Remote Touch Interface has been ditched. Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration comes on board as standard, along with Drive Connect bringing cloud-based navigation, Destination Assist, and Intelligent Assist (activated by saying “Hey, Lexus”).
The center console has been redesigned to accommodate a new wireless charger, cup holder, and sunglasses holder. A new Macadamia material replaces the old Rich Cream, and Ash Bamboo joins the list of wood trim choices.
The F Sport Handling package now comes with Sport+ and Custom driving modes, plus an adaptive suspension, rear parking sensors, and a heated steering wheel. The F Sport Design bundle becomes eligible for a panoramic roof.
You might like: The 2023 Genesis GV80: This midsize luxury SUV impresses with a sumptuous interior and the best warranty in its class
Driving the 2023 Lexus ES
Admittedly, there are F Sport packages for both the ES 350 and ES 300h models — adding things like sport front seats, extra aerodynamic parts, and the option of an adaptive suspension. But the 2023 ES luxury sedan tends to excel in a different direction, where comfort and tranquility are prioritized.
The ES is for drivers who don’t want to know how rough the road surface is and would rather have an easy commute than a demanding one. That’s the whole point of a luxury car, right?
It could be argued that the luxury experience is better when there’s a decent amount of power to exercise. So unless all-wheel drive is imperative, the front-drive ES 350 (priced similarly) is nicely muscular, with 302 horsepower created by a refined 3.5-liter V6.
The ES 250 AWD is hampered a bit by having just 203 horsepower, plus the extra weight of a standard all-wheel-drive system.
The lower-emissions alternative is the 2023 ES 300h. Once again, 215 horsepower is not especially impressive, and there are no official combined torque figures. Electric motors invariably provide a kick when accelerating away from a standstill, though. So the ES 300h doesn’t seem underpowered.
Regenerative braking energy systems in hybrids sometimes result in a weird pedal feel, but that’s not an issue here.
We’ve spent hundreds of hours driving and researching the current collection of midsize luxury sedans, including this Lexus ES.
Calm and spacious, the 2023 ES emphasizes comfort as well as quality materials. And for a touch of the exotic, the aluminum accents that come with the F Sport treatment are inspired by traditional Japanese swords.
Rear legroom of 39.2 inches is excellent for the class, and the backs of the rear seats are angled to optimize headroom. A powered rear shade is standard in the Luxury model.
If there’s a gripe, it’s that the rear seats are fixed. They don’t split and fold to provide extra cargo-carrying versatility. Trunk space, however, is ample at 16.7 cubic feet. That’s the same for the ES 300h hybrid as well.
Check out: The new 2023 Toyota Crown: There’s nothing quite like this high-riding hybrid for fuel efficiency, AWD and power
Thoughtful exterior design
LED headlights are standard with the 2023 ES, with triple-beam premium versions available as an option across the lineup. The ES 350 also offers the option of a panoramic moonroof.
Special alloy wheels designed to reduce road noise are standard with the Ultra Luxury and optional with the Luxury.
The ES 300h hybrid has a drag coefficient of 0.26 (with 17-inch wheels), which is quite impressive for a midsize luxury sedan. An earlier generation of the Prius slipped through the air with a drag coefficient of 0.25.
ValueDespite all their attractive qualities, luxury cars, in general, have an unenviable reputation for losing their value. The Lexus ES steers away from that rut by being relatively affordable in the first place and retaining its worth over the years better than any competitor.
Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android AutoSmartphone integration without the inconvenience of fishing your device out of your pocket or purse and connecting a cable. It’s little things like this that make a difference every day. And it’s standard across the lineup.
Hybrid drivetrainA hybrid makes a lot of sense. The ES 300h is a roomy and plush luxury car, yet it can achieve 44 mpg on the highway. There’s also the reassurance that Lexus and parent company Toyota have completely mastered the hybrid art.
Adaptive cruise controlThis radar-based system is standard, works at all speeds, and is enhanced with a lane-tracing feature adding small steering corrections.
Premium packageIn many instances, it’s a good idea to skip the base vehicle and look at the next one up. But the 2023 ES has a generous amount of standard equipment, and the optional Premium package ($2,430) is a cost-effective way of gaining extra features (such as a heated/power-adjustable steering wheel, driver’s-seat memory settings, heated/ventilated front seats, wireless charging, and rear parking sensors) without stretching to the Luxury trim.
Mark Levinson surround-sound systemA Mark Levinson audio system is a highlight of Lexus ownership. The one available in the Luxury and Ultra Luxury models delivers 1,800 watts through 17 speakers.
Engine and transmission
It’s a mixed bag in the most affordable Lexus ES sedan, the 2023 ES 250 AWD. On the one hand, all-wheel drive is standard. On the other, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine makes just 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. There’s no option for more power. Nor do the other drivetrains offer all-wheel drive — they’re front-wheel drive all the way.
Check out: Wishing for an electric car with a stick shift? Lexus is working on it.
A more appropriate amount of muscle for a luxury sedan comes in the ES 350, propelled by 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft from a 3.5-liter V6.
Both the 250 and 350 models deploy an 8-speed automatic transmission. The ES 300h hybrid drivetrain includes a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Lexus doesn’t provide torque figures for its hybrids, but the ES 300h’s combination of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two electric motors results in a total of 215 horsepower.
Regular gasoline is acceptable with any variant.
ES 250 AWD:2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine203 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm184 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000-5,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg
ES 350:3.5-liter V6302 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (ES 350), 22/31 mpg (F Sport)
ES 300h:2.5-liter 4-cylinder engineTwo electric motorsTotal system horsepower: 215EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/44 mpg
More Lexus ES fuel economy information is available on the EPA’s website.
A basic new-car warranty from Lexus lasts four years or 50,000 miles, whichever happens first. The standard powertrain warranty is six years or 70,000 miles. However, hybrid systems are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, with the hybrid battery protected for 10 years or 150,000 miles. These warranties are typical for the luxury car sector.
The first two scheduled services are complimentary. Intervals are six months or 5,000 miles (whichever comes first) and 12 months or 10,000 miles.
KBB’s car review methodology.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.