In-depth reviews

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£33,754 to £45,004
  • Luxurious, comfortable cabin
  • Overall refinement
  • Low running costs
  • Lack of driving excitement
  • Powertrain noise
  • Firm F Sport model

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.

• Best executive cars to buy 

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.

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.

More on ES

New Lexus ES 300h Premium trim introduced
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8 Sep 2020

New Lexus ES 300h Premium trim introduced

New Lexus ES 300h Premium trim level adds thousands of pounds of extra kit for a minimal outlay over the base model, while extra safety tech is includ…
Lexus ES Takumi 2020 review
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Lexus ES Takumi 2020 review

Lexus has added ‘Digital Side-View Monitors’ to the top spec Takumi version of its ES saloon in place of regular side mirrors, but it needn’t have bot…
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Lexus ES vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90 - header
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Lexus ES vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90

Can the new hybrid Lexus ES make an impression on exec saloon big-hitters such as the BMW 5 Series and Volvo S90?
New Lexus ES 300h 2019 review
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10 Jan 2019

New Lexus ES 300h 2019 review

The new Lexus ES is aiming to shake up the executive saloon market but can it compete with the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class?
Lexus ES pricing and specification released
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19 Sep 2018

Lexus ES pricing and specification released

Japanese BMW 5 Series rival starts from £35,150, comes in three trim levels and is available as a petrol hybrid only
Lexus ES launches in Japan with cameras instead of wing mirrors
Lexus ES
13 Sep 2018

Lexus ES launches in Japan with cameras instead of wing mirrors

Optional cameras to replace wing mirrors 2019 Lexus ES, but they're only available in Japan for now