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USED GUIDE: 2013+ Lexus ES luxury cruiser ‘a great investment’

  • Model: 2013+ Lexus ES
  • Vehicle type: Luxury Sedan


Model year 2013 saw Lexus launch the sixth-generation of their popular ES sedan. This four-door, front-wheel-drive luxury sedan was available with standard gasoline or hybrid power, and numerous optional equipment bundles let shoppers pick the perfect ES setup for their tastes and budget. Equipment may include climate-controlled seats, a premium Mark Levinson stereo, push-button ignition, and a broad range of advanced safety equipment.

Memory seating and a heated leather steering wheel could be specified as well. Available grades included touring, premium, technology and leather/navigation packages, which bundled numerous up-level features.

Model-year 2014 saw an increase in standard equipment levels and, from 2015, revised styling was applied to update the ES’s look.

The standard ES 350 was propelled by a 3.5-litre, 268-horsepower V6. Hybrid models were called the ES 300h and got a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder with hybrid drive, for a total of 200 horsepower.

What owners like

The ES impressed owners with its swanky cabin, a massively relaxing highway driving experience, low noise levels, lots of detailing and quality, and good overall fuel mileage. The performance and sound of the V6 engine is said to be pleasing when called upon.

What owners dislike

Common complaints include a sludgy steering feel, road noise on some surfaces, and a reduction in trunk space on hybrid models, thanks to the large trunk-mounted battery.

The test drive: Play the stereo for a portion of your drive and note that any sudden shut-off of the system, or the playback audio, indicates a problem with the stereo system head unit. The likely fix is a hard reset of the unit, or some dealer servicing. If the stereo system on the ES you’re considering is still under warranty, have any issues checked by a dealer technician as soon as possible.

A weak battery may cause problems with the ES’s multi-information display, which is a small colour screen on the dash. Other frustrating electronic problems are possible if the battery on the ES you’re considering is weak or dying. If any of the ES’s electronics seem to be operating sporadically or strangely, start by assessing the condition of its battery with a professional battery diagnostic test.

Confirm that all windows operate as expected from all possible switches, and that all door-mounted buttons and controls, including door handles, are in proper working order. Some owners have replaced door lock actuators, which mechanically work the door locks, often more than once. Others have had issues with slow or non-functional power windows.

Test-drivers are advised to have any unwelcome sensations relating to driveability addressed by a Lexus technician before their purchase. These may include hard shifting, excessive hesitation, or a numb or “dead” feel to the throttle. In many cases, revised computer programming installed by a Lexus dealer is the fix.

Confirm proper operation of the climate control system at all temperature settings, and note that any failure of the system to consistently provide air at the selected temperature likely indicates the need for adjustment of the system, or the installation of revised software via a dealer technician.

Finally, if you’re considering a Lexus ES 300h Hybrid, a pre-purchase inspection of the vehicle, with a focus on the hybrid driveline, should be considered absolutely mandatory. A hybrid-trained Lexus technician is the best person for this job. Lexus has built and sold more hybrid-powered luxury car drivetrains than other manufacturer, and commonly-reported problems are rare. Still, given the complex nature of hybrid vehicles, a professional inspection by an expert is ideal for peace of mind.

The verdict

Lexus ES should make a compelling buy for the luxury shopper after years of worry-free driving from an upscale sedan that’s built for comfortable highway cruising. A used model with full service records should prove a great investment for years to come.

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