Best And Worst Years For The Lexus ES 350

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Known for its reliability and high performance contrasted with its luxury architecture, the Lexus ES 350 is a popular variant of the Lexus ES series.

This particular series started with a bang way back in 1983 and continues to be in production to day.

Alongside excellent performance, usage of modern technology, and excellent reliability, the vehicle is also fuel-efficient.

However, while the ES is a stellar vehicle, certain years in which the quality dropped and issues propped up frustrated consumers.

Here, we will be making a list of the best and worst years for Lexus ES 350:

Best Years for Lexus ES350 Series:

  1. 2019
  2. 2012
  3. 2018
  4. 2017
  5. 1996

Worst Years for Lexus ES350 Series:

  1. 2007
  2. 2008
  3. 2011
  4. 2013
  5. 2014
  6. 2015

With the list of years out of the way, I will now be turning my attention to providing details of each year, analyzing their respective qualities or shortcomings.

So, without further ado, let us get into it!

List Of The Best Years For The Lexus ES 350: What Years To Buy

Check the pros and cons of the Lexus ES 350 review

Now, I will firstly be looking at the years of the ES 350, which are regarded as the best for the vehicle.

This will look at each year on the list in comprehensive detail, showing why each year is given the place it has.

#1 Best Year: 2019 Lexus ES 350

The 2019 Lexus ES 350 is a significant upgrade on its predecessors, belonging to the seventh generation of the vehicle’s manufacture.

The model boasts a signature grille which is only the tip of the iceberg for its splendid styling and aesthetics. It truly matches the look of a luxury sports sedan.

In terms of performance, the ES 350 variant has a horsepower of 302 hp and torque of 267 lb-ft with a V6 engine, all of which is a significant improvement from its previous model.

The modern suspensions allow for easier turning, while the car’s handling is quite comfortable.

There is little to no noise on driving, making for a truly pleasant all-around experience.

#2 Best Year: 2012 Lexus ES 350

The 2012 Lexus ES 350 is comfortable, reliable, and solid in performance.

Prioritizing passenger comfort, this vehicle will be soft and smooth on all roads. The suspensions too are designed in a way to maximize passenger comfort.

However, it is also solid in performance, with 272 hp V6 output that performs well due to good insulation. The vehicle is reliable for long distances and is subject to virtually no complaints.

It does fall short with regards to its exterior design, which is shallow compared to the interior luxuries.

This, however, does not take away from the fact that it is an incredible entry-level luxury vehicle.

#3 Best Year: 2018 Lexus ES 350

The 2018 Lexus ES 350 model is part of the sixth generation of Lexus vehicles offered after 2013.

With a 3.5-liter V6 engine providing 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission, this vehicle is quite solid in performance and output.

It also sustains the Lexus ethos of providing luxury and passenger comfort over everything else.

Despite no significant changes from its predecessor models, the 2018 ES 350 has adapted technologically to create a perfect atmosphere for drivers.

However, the vehicle may run into some problems regarding handling, and the navigation system may be confusing for some.

However, it is still a solid entry-level luxury vehicle for any driver.

#4 Best Year: 2018 Lexus ES 350

This 2018 Lexus ES 350 model also maximizes consumer comfort and therefore has a very stylish cabin, upgraded multimedia system, and a redesigned front which gives it a more luxurious feel.

Its class-leading rear legroom alongside the cabin makes it a benchmark for luxury sedans as well.

For an entry-level mid-size sedan, this model also has a good track record in terms of performance, with comfortable and responsive handling that gives you the quintessential luxury feel.

However, it still falls short on certain miscellaneous components, such as a complicated navigation system and longer brakes.

This makes it relatively less value for money than the 2012 Lexus ES 350 model.

#5 Best Year: 2016 Lexus ES 350

The 2016 version of the Lexus ES 350 follows up on most of the qualities of the sixth generation mentioned above in the other versions as well, namely, greater passenger comfort, solid reliability and performance, and brilliant responsiveness to passenger needs.

The only aspects where it misses out on are complicated multimedia and navigation systems—however, the superior handling and rear-wheel spaciousness more than make up for it.

Hence, it deserves a place on this list.

List Of The Worst Years For The Lexus ES 350: Worst Years To Buy

With the best versions out of the way, it is now time to focus our attention on those models of the ES 350 that fell short and frustrated customers.

In other words, these are the Lexus models you should be avoiding:

#1 Worst Year: 2007 Lexus ES 350

The 2007 model was the launch of the 5th generation of Lexus vehicles and the debut season of the ES 350.

However, the number of issues of this vehicle led to several complaints, making it the worst model of the vehicle so far.

Most issues are related to the melting of the dashboard, causing pungent odor and safety hazards, blown engine head, and oil leaking from the timing chain cover.

These issues are symbolic that Lexus was slow to adapt to the market’s changing demands.

The model quickly fell out of favor with drivers because it was seen as unreliable and quite a lethargic customer support system.

#2 Worst Year: 2008 Lexus ES 350

The 2008 Lexus ES 350 relating to customer support as well. However, the model still fell short of expectations, with many issues of the old model seeping into its successor.

Oil leaks remained notorious causes of complaints about the drivers, leading to inefficient fuel economy and excessive oil consumption.

There was also the issue of infotainment blackout, meaning that the multimedia system could stop working suddenly, and frustrating consumers.

In addition to this, the issue of the melting dashboard also persisted with this model. All in all, it wasn’t a very positive year for the ES 350.

#3 Worst Year: 2011 Lexus ES 350

This 2011 Lexus ES 350 model was one of the last versions of the 5th generation but still had several issues that were only really fixed with the significantly better 2012 version.

The primary reason to be on the list is that the next year’s version was significantly better at a similar price rate—the issue of melting dashboards corresponded with frequent GPS failures, creating a nuisance for regular drivers.

Furthermore, transmission problems are also present, indicated by shifting delays, whining and grinding upon acceleration, and burning smells.

These issues need to be addressed immediately upon discovery, but repair costs can be quite high.

#4 Worst Year: 2013 Lexus ES 350

Despite being a version of the new sixth-generation and a successor to the very successful 2012 version, the 2013 year for the Lexus ES 350 fell short of expectations.

While not bad per se, certain complaints warrant this year to be on the list. These issues include unintended acceleration, which unfortunately caused minor accidents.

Besides, oil leaks due to a burst in the VVT-i oil line were also quite prominent. This led to excessive oil starvation and increasing costs of maintenance.

However, due to the infrequency of these issues and the overall improvement in performance, this year doesn’t deserve a higher spot on the list.

#5 Worst Year: 2014 Lexus ES 350

It may be somewhat unfair to add the next two vehicles on this list since they aren’t genuinely bad options.

However, in keeping with the high standards of the Lexus ES 350, these two still fall short.

The first is the 2014 Lexus ES 350 version, which despite its high performance and comfortable interior, has a lot of issues to cope with.

The first is the notorious oil leak issue, which is prominent in this version of the vehicle. As evident from complaints, a loss in oil pressure has frustrated several drivers.

Secondly, Lexus didn’t do well adapting to new technological developments. For instance, the navigation tool guide is quite complicated and can be a nuisance for drivers.

#6 Worst Year: 2015 Lexus ES 350

The second is the 2015 version of the Lexus ES 350.

Once again, despite the improvements in performance and output, this version falls short on many key departments while bringing in additional problems.

The first of these is brake failure and unintended acceleration, which means that the car may jolt forward or backward despite the application of brakes.

This issue is most prominent in the 2015 version. In addition, transmission problems are again quite common.

However, Lexus did well to repair issues relating to oil leaks, which created a markedly better oil management system than its predecessors.

What Are The Most Common Problems With The Lexus ES 350?

Now that we have looked at the best and worst years for the ES 350, we will now be turning our attention to some of the common issues that pop up in the Lexus.

These issues may be more prominent in some versions than others, but their commonality brings them together in this list.

1. Melting Dashboard

This problem is prominent primarily in the versions from 2007-2010 but may also arise later.

The plastic on the dash can actively melt under the sun, which is a problem for several reasons.

Firstly, this melting may release VOCs harmful to the driver and passengers.

Secondly, it is a cosmetic issue that may hurt the overall attractiveness of the vehicle; since Lexus prides itself on interior architecture, this would be a striking blow.

Lastly, it can interfere with the function of other installments on the dash, such as the airbag or other electronic devices.

2. Oil Leaks

Again, a common problem with most versions of the Lexus ES 350 from the 2007-2016 versions is the oil leaks.

Sudden and excessive oil leaks are subject to major complaints, and this issue reduces engine performance while also creating greater costs for repairs.

If left unchecked, the oil starvation can also lead to complete engine failure.

This usually happens due to a burst in the VVT-i oil line leading to lower pressure and, consequently, the greater probability of oil leaks.

However, from the 2016 version on, this issue has drastically reduced in its frequency.

3. Unintended Acceleration

Unintended acceleration usually happens due to an electronic defect, which causes the throttle to expand and the vehicle to accelerate without pressing the gas pedal.

While this issue may not be present in all the vehicle versions, it is a very dangerous issue that needs to be known by any prospective driver.

There may not be any response to the application of brakes either. This issue is quite serious and demands serious attention from licensed mechanics if spotted.

Unfortunately, minor accidents have taken place due to this problem.

4. Infotainment System Issue

Some of the Lexus ES 350 may have outdated software installed in their multimedia, leading to a malfunction of the infotainment system.

This may include a complete blackout of the system, disabling the user from accessing Bluetooth, radio, or navigation.

There have also been complaints of drivers not being able to use their heater control due to the failed software.

Appropriate software can later be installed from the appropriate dealerships, but this is still a frustrating issue for drivers.

The primary reason for this is that Lexus prides itself on interior comfort and accessibility, so issues in the infotainment system do not sit well with that reputation.

Fortunately, it doesn’t happen for most of the models of this vehicle.

5. Blown Cylinder Head

A significant issue with some Lexus ES 350 vehicles is the fact that the cylinder head can get blown.

This can happen due to head gasket failure, coolant loss, or excessive heating that impacts the gasket’s alignment.

Once the cylinder head fails, the vehicle may exhibit other issues such as engine misfires, white smoke emissions, and coolant leaks.

Hence, this issue is also quite pertinent and needs to be handled with care.

Related: Why Won’t My Lexus ES 350 Start?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is The Lexus ES 350 Expensive To Maintain?

The maintenance cost for an average Lexus ES 350 is less than the industry average for luxury sedans, which stands at $6216.

The ES 350, in comparison, takes around $5,488 for maintenance and repairs over the course of 10 years.

This is cheaper than the industry standard, and so we can say that the Lexus ES 350 is not expensive to maintain in comparison to the alternatives available.

However, during this ten-year time, there is still a 15% chance that the vehicle will require a major upgrade.

In such a scenario, it becomes important to note that the maintenance costs may jump upwards drastically.

Q2. What Is The Difference Between The Lexus ES 350 And The ES 250?

The ES 350 and the ES 250 are brother vehicles of the same luxury midsize sedan.

They have an almost identical interior and aesthetic. However, the main difference arises in their engine and overall performance.

Firstly, the ES 250 has a four-cylinder engine, while the ES 350 has a zestier V6 engine alongside a front-wheel drive.

There is a difference in performance, with the former providing more modest acceleration and lower horsepower in comparison to the latter.

The ES 350, therefore, feels zippier in its acceleration than the ES 250, which is more modest.

Q3. Where Is The Lexus ES 350 Built?

There are five main manufacturing centers for Lexus vehicles, all of which are regarded as a state of the art factories.

The ES brand, in particular, is manufactured in Lexington, Kentucky, and Kyushu, Japan.

Q4. Does Lexus Still Make The ES 350?

Lexus has used the ES 350 as an intro-level mid-size luxury sedan for a number of years.

The production of the vehicle started in 2007 and continues into 2022, with the refreshed 2022 model of the ES 350 released with several upgrades.

There have been numerous generations of the ES vehicle, and the ES 350 began its manufacture from the 2007 5th generation launch onwards.

In short, Lexus continues to produce what is a very popular and profitable enterprise for them.

Q5. What Is The Difference Between ES 350 And ES 350 F Sport?

Firstly, both these variants of the ES vehicle have a lot of similarities in terms of their navigation systems, infotainment display system, Bluetooth, and other technological variations.

However, the stark difference lies in performance equipment; the ES 350 F Sport has larger wheels, chassis dampers, a rear spoiler, and a unique grille.

There is also an aluminum interior trim, sport front seats, and special interior gauges. Hence, the F Sport is much more performance-oriented than the ES 350.


The Lexus ES 350 is a very good reliable midsize luxury sedan that has a lot to offer.

In terms of both performance and comfort, this vehicle has you covered, providing you with the best passenger experience you could ask for in an automobile.

There are some issues here and there relating to the oil leaks and general irrationalities, but these are minuscule in comparison to the many qualities that this vehicle holds.

So I hope you were able to find the right model with my list of best and worst years for Lexus ES 350.