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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.

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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 standard infotainment system provides an eight-inch screen, while Takumi models have a 12.3-inch display screen as standard, and other models can be upgraded to this. The display itself is clear and easy to read, but the input device is a touchpad which can be awkward to use and is less accurate than those offered by rivals. The ES can’t be specified with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, though, which will be a significant omission for some. By contrast, the Mark Levinson audio system is a particular highlight, with speakers set at shoulder height around the cabin for superior sound quality.

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