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All models of the Lexus ES appear to be a blend of reliability, comfort, and performance. With so many to choose from, we wonder which is the best year Lexus ES

The 2019 Lexus ES is excellent for performance, reliability, and even modern technology. The car also has a very fuel-efficient hybrid variant. The 2019 ES is reasonably priced for luxury shoppers. But if you want to go more pocket-friendly with the same reliability, you can opt for the 2012 Lexus ES

Lexus began with a bang in the US in 1989. The company launched the LS400, which redefined the luxury car market. Alongside the best came another variant of the Lexus brand, the ES, an entry-level luxury car. However, the car developed into a more premium model and acquired its own recognition over the years.

Toyota was concerned about launching a new brand with only one luxury car. They decided to add ES to the Lexus lineup to allow the brand to take its place in the market. At the launch, the resemblance of the ES with the Toyota Camry was uncanny. Many car reviewers even dubbed the Lexus ES as a luxurious Toyota Camry, a reputation that the ES tried to shake off for many years to come. Although it was built on the Camry chassis, the ES is no traditional car. Technological advancements have made the car stand out in its segment of luxury sport sedans.

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2019 Lexus ES

If you find the 2012 model outdated and do not mind shelling out (more than quite) a few extra dollars, the best year Lexus ES would be the 2019 model. This model, which belongs to the seventh generation, seems to be quite an upgrade from its predecessors.

With its sleek and stylish body, the 2019 ES flaunts multiple personalities. It comes in three different flavors; the ES350, The ES300h Hybrid, and for those looking to go even more sporty, there is an F Sport.

All variants are front-wheel drive. The ES350 and F Sport are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces around 302 horsepower. To get that power to the wheels, paired along is the eight-speed automatic transmission.

The car boasts impressive handling and cornering abilities. We do not find the extensive body roll anymore, and the car performs well to its name. The F Sport version is equipped with a Sports+ mode, which improves throttle response, and tightens the steering to give a more racing feel in the luxurious car.

Then there is the ES300h, powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, coupled with an electric motor and a battery hidden under the rear seat. The powertrain on this variant produces 215 horsepower. But more importantly, the hybrid technology can get you 44 miles for every gallon of fuel, which is nothing short of remarkable for such a large sedan.

For the tech-savvy, there is plenty to play around with. All cars come with a standard eight-inch infotainment system which can be upgraded to a 12.3-inch navigation version. The car comes with Apple CarPlay but misses out on Android Auto. If you don’t want to stretch your hand out to touch the screen, there is a trackpad beside the shifter, which you can use to control the infotainment system. Hidden all around the car are speakers from the Mark Levinson premium sound system.

Styling Features

2017 brought about a sea of change for car aesthetics. Gone were the bland and traditional looks, and the 2019 ES is one of the best results yet. With an unmissable grille in the front to the charmingly unbalanced dashboard inside, there is nothing traditional about the 2019 ES.

In a world full of hexagonal grilles, the signature grille on the ES instantly makes it stand out as a Lexus. With the grille standing tall, and the roofline trails boldly coming down to match the accent, the car seems to have tossed tradition in the bin. The shoulder creases on the back also blend perfectly with the uniquely shaped taillights.

With the introduction of the F Sport variant, Lexus has partially succeeded in building the reputation of the ES as more of a sport sedan. The car, however, still flaunts its long history of comfort and luxurious personality.

Performance Features

The ES350

The 302 horsepower from the V6 is 34 more than the previous model. The eight-speed automatic transmission can also be used as a manual. The car has 267 lb-ft of torque, which will quickly push you deep into its plush seats, when it leaps from the start. The ES350 can make it to sixty in just under 6.6 seconds.

With the modern suspension, the car handles corners elegantly. There is no more careless body roll on the ES. The vehicle remains noiseless at highway speeds and tones down most bumps on the road with the advanced damping suspension. The steering is responsive and handles well, even at high speeds. Although, you might hear the tires wailing on tight bends.

The ES F Sport

Take all you have on the ES350, add some adaptive dampers, and tighten up the suspension. Don’t forget to toss in the sport seats and sturdier trim. What you have now is the ES F Sport.

Under the hood, the ES350 and F Sport have the same powertrain. But Sport+ mode on the F Sport allows the dampers to maintain a firm setting.  The car boasts 19-inch alloys and lower-profile tires. The suspension is adaptive to the crests and dips on the road. But push it too fast around a tight, and you will have your tires squealing for mercy. Remember, the ES series is a luxury sedan with a sporty touch, not vice versa.

The ES300h

If you are more into fuel economy than performance, you will be delighted to sit on the driving seat of the ES300h.

Take what you have on the ES350, replace the V6 with a smaller 2.5-liter engine, couple it with a CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission, add a nickel hydride battery, and some fancy electronics. What you now have is the Lexus ES300h that cuts down by almost ten percent on the ES350’s performance as the fuel mileage skyrockets to 44 mpg.

The hybrid will dash to sixty in 8.1 seconds and offer a smooth and comfortable ride, with just a tad more noise than the ES350. If you are not an enthusiastic driver drooling over performance, the ES300h will be your loving partner for all your daily driving needs.

The 2012 Lexus ES

If you are looking for a pocket-friendly and reliable Lexus ES, we highly recommend touching on the 2012 Lexus ES350. With virtually zero complaints and recalls, the 2012 model for the Lexus ES stands out.

With its stylish features, and an affordable price (for luxury car buyers), the 2012 ES350 is an optimal choice for those looking to rake in performance, luxury, and comfort together in one car, but at the same do not want to stand out in the crowd.

If we had to describe the ES 350 in one word, we would call it understated. The conventional, or rather a bland exterior, overshadows all the stylish features and luxuries inside the car. Struggling to stand apart from the Toyota Camry, we cannot term the ES350 trendy or flashy. But it does have a touch of the luxury car look.

The car prioritizes passenger comfort over everything else, even performance. Driving around, you will find the vehicle soft and smooth on all types of roads. It seems to swallow up a lot of the unevenness and small bumps on the road. Thanks to the insulation, even the 272 horsepower V6 engine performs exceptionally well without making much noise.

But if we have said that performance comes second, it does not mean that the car does not perform well on the road. The powerhouse of an engine, coupled with six-speed automatic transmission, can take the car to sixty in only 6.8 seconds.

On the undercarriage, the suspension is designed with only one thing in mind; passenger comfort. This is a reason why it might not be very tempting to swerve around at high speeds in this car. It does not seem to take corners too well; the body roll can feel scary during sharp bends. But it is essential to keep in mind that this car is not designed for racing around; it is designed to offer luxury and comfort.

The ES350 is a beautiful companion to have along for long road trips. It is comfortable, responsive, and enjoyable to drive. You might not find the seats as lavish as other German sedans, but we have to remember that this is an entry-level luxury car, and the seats are elegant enough for the price you pay.

Inside, there is enough legroom for all passengers, whether seated in the front or the back. The aesthetics are enhanced by the maple and walnut wood trims and the gracefully wrapped leather upholstery. All interior materials and trims are impressive enough to envy anyone who sits inside.

If you are lucky enough, you might find a 2012 ES350 with the Ultra Luxury Package. In this variant, you will find:

  • A panoramic moonroof
  • Ventilated and heated front seats
  • Power-operated rear sunshade
  • Xenon headlamps with adaptive cornering
  • Navigation system coupled with a satellite radio
  • Lexus Enform App Suite
  • Bluetooth audio and hands free features

Safety Features

During testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Lexus ES 350 was awarded ‘good’ ratings in side and frontal impact. The new roof also passed the test with flying colors. But in the event of a rear impact, the car could only reap a ‘marginal’ score, which points towards more chances of whiplash injuries.

There is a lot of safety equipment on the 2012 ES 350, which is another reason that makes the vehicle a good buy. The ES 350 has:

  • Ten airbags, including two side airbags for rear passengers
  • Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) coupled with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD); an intelligent system that applies more brake force to the wheels that need it the most
  • Stability Control
  • A Safety Connect System, which can send out crash notifications, stolen car location, and even call for emergency assistance using the SOS button.

In addition to those mentioned above, the ES 350 has quite a few intelligent safety systems, which include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control with radar to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead
  • Pre-collision system with an audio warning, which can:
  • Tighten Seatbelts
  • Initiate Emergency braking

Luxury Features

As you might have already assumed by now, the ES 350 comes with a long list of luxury features. Even a bird’s eye view of all the features will leave you nothing short of impressed. The list is extensive, but here are some of the salient features:

  • 17-inch alloy rims
  • Power adjustable and telescopic steering wheel, mounted with controls to the infotainment system
  • 10-way adjustable, power operated front seats
  • Elegant Optitron Gauges
  • Rain-sensing automatic wipers
  • Power Moonroof, upgraded to Panoramic glass roof with the Ultra Luxury Package
  • Self-dimming mirror
  • Trip Computer

Fuel Economy

If you do not expect to go too green, the 2012 ES 350 will not disappoint in fuel economy. With typical ratings of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on highways, the fuel economy seems pretty good compared to other similar sedans.

In fact, the Lexus ES350 is considerably fuel-efficient when compared to other V6 engine sedans. With the 2010 upgrade, Lexus cars no longer required premium fuel, which means that you can use lower-priced fuel on your 2012 ES450, making savings with every refill.

What Makes 2012 Stand Out?

For any car owner, reliability is a crucial factor. Your car should safely take you where you want to go and whenever you want to go. One of the noticeable features that grabbed our attention was that the 2012 model did not have any recalls or significant registered complaints.

The other thing that makes 2012 one of the best years for the ES350 is what you get for your hard-earned money. The 2012 ES350 can be had for anything between $11,000 and $18,000. This is an excellent bargain for all the luxury features that come with the reliability of a Lexus.

Best Year Lexus ES

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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