The ES isn’t the most distinctive model Lexus sells but it still features the family face in the form of a large, X-shaped ‘spindle’ grille and slim LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. There are also alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, a sloping roofline, a boot lid spoiler and slim taillights.
The Lexus ES arrived in the UK in 2019 but it’s got a long history in other countries, originally making its debut in 1989, when it was based largely on the Toyota Camry. In fact, Lexus is Toyota’s luxury brand, and the ES still borrows much of its tried-and-trusted tech from other models.
The Lexus ES arrived in the UK in 2019
What’s it like to drive?
The ES was designed with comfort in mind rather than sporting prowess, which is what ES rivals focus on. As a result, the Lexus’s ride quality is very good, especially on the 17-inch wheels that come with entry-level ‘ES’ trim. F Sport trim adds adaptive suspension and larger wheels.
Every version of the ES is good to drive, with decent handling on twisty roads and excellent body control that keeps things on an even keel. The steering does a good job of letting you know what’s going on beneath the front wheels and the hybrid engine has plenty of power for use on all roads.
The ES was designed with comfort in mind.
Most Lexus ES models come with an 8-inch screen on the top of the dashboard, with Takumi trim switching it for a 12-inch screen. It’s operated by a touchpad next to the gear lever, with shortcut buttons that take you straight to various menus. Next to the screen is a rather snazzy analogue clock, while the rest of the interior features lots of quality leather, metal and soft-touch plastics.
Every ES from 2020 gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – both of which let you connect your smartphone and use various apps – plus sat-nav, heated front seats, auto headlights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, a digital screen in front of the driver and adaptive cruise control (which uses radar to maintain a set distance from the car in front). The Mark Levinson sound system found on most cars sounds terrific.
Electric adjustment for the steering wheel and driver’s seat make it easy to find a good position, and there’s plenty of room in both front seats. There’s also a vast amount of legroom in the rear seats, although tall adults may find their heads brushing the sloping roof. There’s room for 3 in the rear but the centre passenger’s feet will have to straddle a hump in the floor; the rear seatbacks can be reclined on top-end Takumi trim.
The ES’s door bins have enough room for bottles and, up front, there’s space beneath the central armrest, a glovebox and a pair of cup holders. Rear-seat passengers get pockets in the backs of the front seats and a couple of cup holders in the arm rest.
The saloon boot opening may hamper the ES’s ability to accommodate awkward-shaped loads but the load space can take a couple of full-sized suitcases and some squashy bags. The rear seatbacks are fixed in position but there’s a flap, allowing you to carry narrow, longer items, such as a pair of skis.
Running costs and reliability
There’s just 1 engine available on the ES: a 2.5-litre petrol unit paired with an electric motor – this is what’s known as a full hybrid. The ES can run on pure electric power for short distances and replenishes the electric motor’s battery when you’re braking or coasting. There’s no plug-in hybrid option (known as a PHEV) but official average economy is up to 59mpg, which is impressive for an executive car.
What cinch loves
We love the Lexus ES’s refinement. This is the perfect car for travelling long distances, thanks to its comfortable seats. But it’s also great in town when the petrol engine switches off and the ES can be powered silently by its electric motor. It’s well suited to those who love a luxurious interior yet want to minimise the impact their motoring has on the environment.