Lexus ES Review logo

Lexus ES Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2018
      Body type
      Premium
      Fuel type
      Hybrid
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Comfy, quiet, almost too understated”

Best bits

  •  Vast cabin space
  •  Quirky but appealing
  •  Low running costs

Not so great

  • Non-descript looks
  • Performance lags class norm
  • Stodgy handling

Read by

Lexus ES front

Overall verdict

Lexus ES front interior

On the inside

Lexus ES front exterior

Driving

Lexus ES gearstick

How much does it cost to run

Lexus ES boot open

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Lexus ES is the direct replacement for the GS executive saloon. If you think that a mild change of name means any significant change in tack for the firm’s mid-size saloon, you’re in for a disappointment."

Lexus ES front

On the other hand, if you liked the Lexus GS, and there was plenty to admire about it, then the ES offers a lot more of the same. It is a sharper looking saloon than the GS, which slowly evolved to become a handsome if slightly anonymous car. The ES has crisp lines and a slightly coupe-esque profile, though it’s certainly not in the mould of the Mercedes CLS.


The rivals for the ES are the usual suspects from the executive sector, namely the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Mercedes E-Class. All of these cars have the added ace up their wheelarches of an estate model for anyone wanting more carrying capacity. This is an area where Lexus has long lagged behind its European counterparts as the ES remains resolutely only available as a four-door model with boot rather than tailgate.


On the inside, you won’t mind the ES isn’t an estate as the cabin offers up a whole load of room. This is certainly one area where Lexus has listened to critics of the GS and responded in very definite terms. In fact, you could almost accuse the firm of overreacting as the rear seat now serves up almost as much knee room as the LS luxury limousine in Lexus’ range. Still, we’ll take that over the cramped back seat of the GS that went before.


The front of the ES’s cabin is no less generous in the space it offers its occupants. The driver is presented with a very high-tech looking dash, which includes a couple of unusual column stalks poking out of the sides of the main binnacle. They are for the drive modes and, while they seem a little unusual at first, they are an example of Lexus daring to think differently and come up with a solution that works even if it appears a little left-field.


That thinking also underpins why Lexus has resolutely stuck with hybrid power for its mid-size saloon models for many years now. The petrol-electric set-up for the ES is familiar, but it now drives the front wheels rather than the back pair. Again, this puts the Lexus at odds with conventional thinking for this class of car, but there’s no denying it has upsides such as the huge rear seat space now provided in the ES.


As far as driving goes, the ES is much the same as the GS in that it is smooth and unflustered in most conditions, but try to exploit its grip or power and its poise begins to unravel all too rapidly. A BMW 5 Series will simply drive away from the Lexus on a twisting road with no apparent effort from the BMW’s driver. However, on crusty surfaces, the Lexus gets right back on terms with the plushness of its ride.


All of this blended with the Lexus ES’s low running costs make it an interesting package. Not necessarily a class-leading one, but definitely worthy of consideration.



Is the Lexus ES right for you?

The executive sector is full of cars with sporting touches and muscular appeal in a bid to draw in buyers, yet comfort is a much longer lasting talent to have and this is what the Lexus ES offers. Its supple suspension soaks up lumpy roads and whisks them away with barely any disturbance to its occupants.


For this reason alone the ES is a great car for anyone who has long commutes to complete. It deposits you at journey’s end feeling comfy, relaxed and ready for what comes next.


This calm demeanour is enhanced by the hybrid powertrain’s easy-going nature, while the cabin has masses of space and build quality that makes a bank’s seem a little slapdash. The interior is also packed with lots of standard kit to make your life easier and more cosseted.


Lexus also gets it right when it comes to running costs, which will be of vital importance to the many company car drivers faced with the choice of picking from the Lexus or the multitude of other executive saloons available.


What’s the best Lexus ES model/engine to choose?

Guess what? You don’t get a choice when it comes to the engine in the Lexus ES as there’s only one and it’s a petrol-electric hybrid. The 2.5-litre V6 petrol unit is spliced with an electric motor to produce a combined 218PS.


That’s not a lot when compared to the ES’s usual rivals with either petrol or diesel engines. So it proves on the road and against the stopwatch, with the ES needing 8.9 seconds to cover the 0-62mph dash, which is around two seconds slower than you’d expect from its direct rivals.


No matter, the ES’s engine combo rewards with smoothness and it pulls away from a standstill using just electric power for a very quiet, smooth start to your journey.


With just one powertrain, your big decision is which trim to choose. There are three to pick from, comprising ES, F Sport and Takumi. The latter is the most luxurious, while the F Sport has a more dynamic outlook. Yet there’s nothing missing from the standard ES, so this is the one we’d head towards.


What other cars are similar to the Lexus ES?

Lined up against the wall as rivals for the Lexus ES are the usual suspects. They are the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class from Germany, while the British connection is taken care of by the Jaguar XF.


The BMW is the one keener drivers will gravitate towards, while the Mercedes appeals for its comfort and solid build. The Audi A6 has a more avant-garde appeal, while the Jaguar is the Union Jack in automotive form and with a supremely comfortable ride.


Yet perhaps the closest rival in approach to the Lexus is the Volvo S90. The Swede is another that does things its own way and doesn’t give a damn what anybody else thinks. That’s rather attractive.


Learn more

Lexus ES front interior

On the inside

Lexus ES front exterior

Driving

Lexus ES gearstick

How much does it cost to run

Lexus ES boot open

Prices, versions and specification