In-depth reviews

Lexus ES review - Interior, design and technology

A comfortable cabin with excellent materials, but the infotainment system lacks some key features

The exterior design of the ES is instantly recognisable as a Lexus, combining the distinctive grille shape and slim headlights with a curved rear roofline, giving a coupe-like feel. Despite the strong nose treatment, the ES is relatively conservative in its design and is unlikely to put off many buyers as a result - in particular, the strong metallic red paint option brings out the best of the shape.

Although a brand-new design, the layout of the ES follows the template set by the LS and previous GS models, with an unfussy design, a slim grouping of buttons on the dashboard with a large transmission tunnel housing the main controls for the infotainment system. The quality of the materials is impressive, if not quite as good as the best in the class, but the result is a cabin that is comfortable and soothing, and feels built to cope with many thousands of miles.

Standard equipment is generous across the range, and even the entry-level model comes with heated electric front seats and adaptive cruise control with level 2 autonomy – usually a cost option in this segment. The top-spec Takumi model brings a larger infotainment screen, a Mark Levinson audio system and a head-up display.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment 

The Lexus ES now comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus wireless phone charging as standard with the Tech & Safety Pack, which is great to see – because it means you can bypass the built-in infotainment system, which we find poor.

The Lexus’ touchpad is fiddly to use, working like a very slow laptop trackpad, occasionally snapping to certain on-screen icons with little consistency. It’s hard to use, makes an annoying noise every time you move the cursor, the menus seem poorly thought out and the graphics are dated. You can adjust its settings, but it’s still not that user-friendly. Although we like the simple dials and the integration of the screen into the dashboard, the interface is a real letdown.

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