IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
The Lexus ES is one of the most comfortable luxury sedans around, and it delivers upscale trimmings and available features at prices that significantly undercut its rivals.
Some drivers find the touchpad infotainment interface to be finicky, and the rear seat backs don’t fold, which compromises cargo-carrying versatility.
In both fuel efficiency and sticker price, the ES 300h is the most economical hybrid of the few available in the premium midsize-car class.
WHAT IS IT?
The ES is Lexus’s “mainstream” midsize sedan, and it was redesigned on a new, slightly larger platform for 2019. The ES 350 model is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 302 horsepower and is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. A sporty F Sport version of the ES 350 gets adaptive variable suspension, a variable exhaust system (for a throatier sound on demand) and specific interior/exterior styling touches. The ES 300h hybrid has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder/electric powertrain that makes a total of 215 horsepower and comes exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). New for 2021 is an ES 250 version, which comes with all-wheel drive and a 203-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. The ES’s available equipment includes a panoramic sunroof, hands-free power trunk lid, heated and ventilated front seats, power rear-window sunshade, and a heated steering wheel. Other available features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, Amazon Alexa connectivity, a WiFi hotspot, and automatic rear braking (which will sound a warning if an obstacle is detected when backing, and then apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t). Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist with lane centering, a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality are standard safety features.
In addition to the ES 250 all-wheel-drive version mentioned above, some ES models get additional standard equipment, and a uniquely trimmed, limited-production Black Line Special Edition model (based on the F Sport trim level) joins the lineup.
The ES 350 is rated at 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway in regular trim, and 22/31 in F Sport form. The all-wheel-drive ES 250 is rated at 25/34, and the ES 300h is rated at 43 city/44 highway. In Consumer Guide® testing, an ES 350 F Sport averaged 23.2 mpg in 60-percent city driving, an ES 350 Ultra Luxury averaged 23.8 mpg in 55-percent city driving, and an ES 300h averaged 36.1 mpg in 70-percent city driving. Lexus recommends regular-grade gas for all ES models.
VALUE IN CLASS
The cushy, comfortable Lexus ES excels at coddling, but it’s also more dynamically engaging than it was in years past—particularly in F Sport trim. The ES 350’s V6 delivers smooth, satisfying power, while the ES 300h delivers class-leading fuel economy with little compromise in overall refinement. The new ES 250 adds the all-season capability of all-wheel drive to the lineup. Despite a few control-interface quirks, the ES is a shoo-in for Best Buy status.
|BASE PRICE RANGE||$39,900 – $50,810|
|BODY STYLES||4-Door Sedan|
|AVAILABLE ENGINES||302-HP, 3.5-Liter V6; 203-HP, 2.5-Liter 4-Cyl.; 215-HP, 2.5-Liter 4-Cyl./Electric|
|DRIVE WHEELS||Front or All-Wheel Drive|
|BUILT IN||Japan, USA|
|EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE||22-44 MPG|