Lexus ES review
The Lexus ES is a very comfortable and refined executive saloon to rival the BMW 5 Series and Volvo S90 with impressively low running costs
Almost all of the main rivals for the Lexus ES focus on a sporty driving experience, and judged on this criteria the executive saloon is significantly behind the competition. However, where the ES claws back ground is how comfortable it is, with a high-quality interior, low noise levels and a smooth ride - as long as you avoid the F Sport model. Add in the ES's very efficient hybrid powertrain, and it has a unique but strong appeal for those looking for a comfortable, discreet saloon that doesn’t skimp on luxuries. It also provides very low running costs alongside impressive emissions, which will be a big plus for business and private owners.
The Lexus ES is a new name in the UK, but there has been an executive saloon for sale with the name since Lexus first appeared in 1989. In fact, globally it’s the best-selling car that Lexus makes. In the UK, the ES replaces the GS, with the big difference between the two being a switch from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive.
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As with the rest of the Lexus range, the ES comes as a petrol-electric hybrid, with a single ES 300h model offered in standard, F Sport and Takumi trims. As it’s a large executive saloon, the main rivals for the ES are the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6, while the Volvo S90, Jaguar XF and possibly the Volkswagen Arteon could be considered as alternative choices.
The Lexus ES takes a markedly different approach to all of these rivals, both in terms of the range of models available, but also in bodystyles and powertrains, which may have an impact on its appeal for some potential buyers. Unlike the BMW, Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes, the ES is only available as a saloon, with no estate or coupe version available. The ES also only comes with front-wheel drive, whereas the competition all offer four-wheel drive variants. And it only comes with a single petrol-electric hybrid powertrain mated to a CVT transmission – there’s no diesel, and definitely no high-performance version offered.
Three trim levels are available; the standard 300h version is well equipped and includes features usually listed as cost options such as adaptive cruise control with level 2 autonomy. Above that sits the F Sport model, which adds adaptive suspension and larger alloy wheels, both of which change the character of the ES to a significant degree. The top specification model is the Takumi, which adds luxury features like reclining heated rear seats, a premium Mark Levinson audio system and a head-up display. ES and F Sport models are also available with option packs that bundle several features together.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Lexus ES is a very comfortable and refined executive saloon to rival the BMW 5 Series and Volvo S90 with impressively low running costs
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe ES is easy to drive and undemanding, but isn’t well suited to enthusiastic driving
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsImpressive fuel consumption and low emissions mean the ES hybrid makes sense for business and private owners alike
- 4Interior, design and technologyA comfortable cabin with excellent materials, but the infotainment system lacks some key features
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceA comfortable and spacious cabin is offered, but the boot space is inflexible
- 6Reliability and SafetyLexus’s reliability record is one of the best, while standard safety equipment is comprehensive