The Lexus ES Lives on in a Dramatically Smaller Segment

The Lexus ES sedan is staying around even as the similar Toyota Avalon goes away after 2022. The ES won’t follow the GS into oblivion and continues with the IS and LS as Lexus’ remaining sedan offerings. The segment has shrunken dramatically in recent years with premium brands such as Buick and Lincoln switching to utility vehicles only. Although ES sales are modest, Lexus offers a formula that’s hard to dismiss.


2022 Lexus ES Hybrid front


2022 Lexus ES, by the Numbers

The Lexus ES is a midsize, luxury sedan with room for five. It comes with standard front-wheel drive, available all-wheel drive, and supplies a hybrid variant. We recently had the opportunity to test drive the ES 300h, the hybrid model.

2.5 – Safety Features

Lexus equips all ES models with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 bundle. This collection includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and road sign assist.

But that’s not all as the bundle features enhanced lane tracing assist, technology that keeps the sedan centered while driving. Adaptive cruise control with full stop and go, and automatic high beams complete the collection.

Separate from the safety system is blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. It is also standard equipment. A 10-inch color head-up display is available ($500).

3 – Models Available

The Lexus ES is comprised of three models: ES 250, ES 300h, and ES 350. Each model offers distinctions not matched by the other. Besides that, all three are roughly the same with the differences apparent in the powertrain and drivetrain.

Choose the ES 350 and this one comes with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine develops 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Power routes to all four wheels utilizing an 8-speed automatic transmission. Notably, this is the lone all-wheel-drive ES available.

Buyers who prefer more power will likely consider the ES 350. This one comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Power routes to the front wheels utilizing an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The third choice belongs to the 300h. This hybrid model utilizes the same engine as the ES 250, but it operates on the efficient Atkinson cycle. Therefore, the engine musters just 176 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. Working alone wouldn’t be sufficient power to motivate this sedan. But Lexus adds a pair of electric motors up front to add power and run independently when needed. Thus, the ES earns a combined 215 horsepower under full throttle.


2022 Lexus ES Hybrid seats


5 – Maximum Number of Grades

Lexus offers the ES 300h in five grades: 300h ($43,690), F Sport Design ($48,075), Luxury ($48,860), F Sport Handling ($49,985), and Ultra Luxury ($52,480).

If you prefer the gas models, four grades are offered. Interestingly, most grades are priced the same. Those costs range from $42,490 to $51,280. Lexus includes the delivery fee with these costs.

8 – Touchscreen Size

Lexus will need to do some catching up with its infotainment system interface. The standard 8-inch touchscreen display seems small these days, especially as many models include 10.25 or 12.3-inch screens.

Opt for the available navigation package ($1,030) and a 12.3-inch screen becomes available. It’s bundled with navigation and Lexus Enform apps.

Other tech features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa integration. Multiple USB ports, Bluetooth, HD Radio, and satellite radio are included. The ES has a 10-speaker Pioneer audio system. Also available is a 17-speaker Mark Levinson system.

14 – Adjustable Driver’s Seat

The driver’s seat offers standard 10-way adjustment or available 14-way adjustment.

Speaking of the seats, they come wrapped in imitation leather or may be upgraded to semi-aniline real hides. The front seats are plush, comfortable, and supportive. The rear seats are near equally comfortable with sufficient room to hold three adults.

As for the rest of the interior, the ES is an excellent example of Lexus craftsmanship. Choice materials, including available wood pieces, authentic leather, and ambient lighting combine to deliver a thoroughly satisfying experience. Full power accessories, zoned climate control, an available power windscreen, rear side window sunshades, and a wooden steering wheel are other features of note.

16.7 – Generous Trunk Space

One of the many strong suits of the Lexus ES is its trunk size. Measuring 16.7 cubic feet, the cargo area is one of the largest in the segment. This number holds across the ES line.

If there is a downside to this that would be the fact that the rear bench seat is fixed. It does not fold down to offer additional storage capacity. On the other hand, a small pass-through makes it possible to bring long items such as a lamp or a pair of skis.


2022 Lexus ES Hybrid dashboard


17/18/19 – Wheel Sizes

Depending on the grade as well as the chosen options, the ES offers three wheel sizes. The standard 17-inch V-spoke alloy wheels with Dark metallic and machined finish wheels offer a pretty design.

A pair of 18-inch alloy wheels are available. The first one comes with a two-tone finish. The second has a high-gloss finish.

The 19-inch alloy wheels are dressed in Gloss Black and offer the sportiest design of the three. Naturally, they’re the wheels that go on the F Sport, the performance-oriented trim.

Lexus shods the wheels within Bridgestone or Michelin all-season tires. They’re staggered too: 235/45R18 are up front and 235/40R19 are on the rear.

44 – Stellar Mpg

Larger sedans aren’t efficient, or are they? The Lexus ES is, particularly with the hybrid model that earns an outstanding 43/44/44 mpg city/highway/combined.

Choose the ES 250 and this one makes a still respectable 25/34/28 mpg city/highway/combined. That’s particularly impressive even as this model shoulders the added weight of the all-wheel drive.

Select the ES 350 and the numbers are not too far from the ES 250. Indeed, this model makes 22/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined; choose the F Sport and those numbers drop by 1 mpg.

113 – A Matter of Inches

The Lexus ES measures 113 inches between the wheels. This compares to the Audi A6 with a 115.1-inch wheelbase and a Cadillac CT6 with 116 inches between the wheels. Overall, the ES is 195.9 inches long or 1.5 inches longer than the Audi and 2 inches longer than the Cadillac.

As for width, the ES measures 73.4 inches and is 56.9 inches tall. Most models tip the scales at under two tons.

On the Road

We give the ES satisfactory marks for step-off acceleration, particularly in hybrid form. This sedan moves at a leisurely pace but builds up to highway speed steadily under full throttle.

Given that we have driven this model equipped with the other powertrains, the V6 stands out. The 302-horsepower engine is matched well to this sedan. Torque steer, fortunately, isn’t much of a concern.

As for the standard four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive, it had us wanting more power. We understand why manufacturers utilize these engines as they match the performance of a V6 from earlier this millennium. The added weight of all-wheel drive holds it back somewhat too.

We applaud Lexus for imbuing the ES with reasonably weighty steering. Handling is good, not great, although F Sport models are buttoned-down to handle twisty roads and corners with ease. The suspension system is well damped, and the brakes are firm. The ES also supplies a near pillow-soft ride.


2022 Lexus ES Hybrid rear


Competitive Set

With sedans disappearing left and right, there are not many models left in this segment to consider. We already mentioned the Cadillac and Audi competitors. Others to consider include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti Q50, Volvo S90, and the Genesis G80.

Parting Thoughts

Sedans may eventually disappear and that seems a shame. We understand why – utility vehicles offer an improved view and enhanced storage capacity. But for the price, sedans cannot be beaten, and the ES is an excellent example of what’s possible. We only wish that all-wheel drive would find its way to the ES 350, a combination that would make this model a stronger competitor to the Audi A6.


See AlsoThe All-New 2022 Lexus LX600

Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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