The ES is the midsize level luxury sedan from Lexus that doesn’t try too hard to be sexy and sporty like a majority of its rivals, but instead aims for comfort and sensibility. What do you need to know before you buy a Lexus ES? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.
The Lexus ES might be the chillest ride there is. It’s not trying to offer anything resembling “sportiness.” It exists to get people from A to B without them feeling a single thing in between. It’s a sanctuary guarded from the outside world by sound deadening, supple suspension dampers and cushy seats.
The Lexus ES doesn’t do firm suspensions, interior space-invading design lines, and fake engine noises that have to be pumped in to the cabin. The Lexus is too good for that nonsense. It aims to go after those seeking comfort and peace. It’s got a huge rear seat, perfect for when you just want to sit in luxury and forget about the world. Though that gaping hourglass shape on the front may be too much for some, the ES isn’t trying to be bold. It’s shooting for the suave “refined” look.
And it’s a simple car, really. You don’t get lots of drivetrain and powertrain options, and you only really get two trim levels. But, of course, you get tons of options like a “Premium Package,” a “Luxury Package,” and of course, an “Ultra Luxury Package.”
Notice the absence of a “Sport Package.”
Lexus carries over the notable reliability from its parent Toyota which, when combined with a supple ride and suitable technological features, make this the perfect family ride. And if you, your spouse and your 2.2 kids are itching to get a little crazy on your vacation to Mount Rushmore, go ahead and click that “Sport Mode” button. But don’t kid yourself, that button won’t turn this thing into an AMG Mercedes.
The Lexus ES is already on its sixth generation after it launched as a 2013 model at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. That new XV60 generation is still built on the Toyota K Platform, the same platform found under the Toyota Camry and Avalon, but it’s got all-new styling, a longer wheelbase, updated infotainment and the first ever ES hybrid, the ES 300H.
Seating, lighting and infotainment options got a few tweaks in 2014 and 2015, but 2016 brought the more significant changes.
For 2016, the ES gets a nice refresh, with new front and rear fascias bringing bolder looks than the 2015 model. The new ES also gets new wheel designs, new interior accents and finishes, standard LED headlights, and a new Safety System+ Suite, which includes Pre-Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, high beam control, and high-speed adaptive cruise control.
The Lexus ES presents the buyer with only two options, though they won’t be left wanting, because each option can be positively decked out with additional features. The two trims are the ES 350 FWD and the hybrid ES 300H. Both ES models are front-wheel-drive and automatic, though the hybrid gets a CVT and the ES 350 gets a standard six-speed auto.
The decision really boils down to fuel economy and power. While the 41 MPG hybrid offers a measurable increase from the ES 350’s 24 MPG combined rating, you’ll have to sacrifice 68 horsepower and $3,000. For those who do a lot of city driving, plan to keep the car for a very long time and don’t need the ES 350’s power, this may be the better option as it should end up recouping that premium in the long run, but beyond that you’re going to get a smooth, quiet ride no matter which trim you decide.
If it’s us, we’re grabbing the ES350 and throwing the Ultra Luxury Package on it. Sure, it costs an extra $3,500, but the only reason we’d be buying an ES is to bathe in a cabin of opulence so we can look down at all the peasants in their Camrys. So let’s grab the Ultra Luxury Package and its “Espresso Bird’s-eye maple, Matte Honey Bamboo” or “Linear dark mocha wood interior trim.” Doesn’t that sound fancy?
That package also adds a panoramic moonroof, a power rear sunshade, a power seat cushion extender for the driver, heated and ventilated front seats, remote keyless entry, perforated leather-trimmed interior and power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, memory front seats and mirrors. This is on top of standard features like dual-zone climate control, 10-way power front seats, 10 airbags, LED headlights, a backup camera, HD radio, selectable drive modes and much more.
All in with destination, we’d have to plop down $42,440 for this smooth-sailing modern-day Cadillac.
Important Facts At A Glance:
MSRP: $38,000 - $40,920 Top Speed: 130 MPH [ES350]
Acceleration: ~7.1s to 60 (estimated)
MPG: 40 city/ 39 hwy / 40 combined [ES300h]
Engines: 3.5-liter V6, 2.5-liter hybrid inline-4
Max Horsepower/Torque: 268 hp/248 lb-ft [ES350]
Curb Weight: 3,571-3,660 pounds IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick +
Transmissions: CVT, 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD
Photo credit: Lexus