Lexus ES Review

Lexus ES 2 2

Do you enjoy being comfortable? Are you a fan of peace and quiet? I have a car for you. It’s called the Lexus ES and it might just be the most refreshing car I’ve driven in a long time. I never thought I’d describe something as 'refreshingly comfortable', but here it is.

On first impressions, the exterior is unassuming at best, plain at worst, but its understated looks are part of its charm. However its looks were never meant to be the party piece; it’s the interior and quite incredible levels of standard features that really shine here.

Lexus ES interior features

Climbing aboard, it becomes immediately clear what the makers of this car have prioritised. The front seats are quite possibly the most cosseting pieces of furniture I’ve ever encountered in a vehicle. The hand stitched leather is plush, the cushioning almost over the top. It’s built for the American market, sure, but maybe the Americans are right about some things.

The front seats are almost dangerous; after 5 minutes I wanted to take a nap. In fact, many of my passengers did.

The dash is a bit overdesigned for my liking, with bold horizontal surfaces and rather large buttons for just about everything. But it is well kitted. A large screen dominates the fascia which is controlled with a device mounted next to the gear selector that is similar to a computer mouse, but much cleverer. The mouse has actuators which make it physically jump beneath your fingers, while highlighting the available options on the screen. It’s a little spooky at first, but once you’re used to it, operating the infotainment is a breeze.

The rest of the interior reminded me very much of our “formal lounge” that we weren’t allowed into as kids. Very plush carpets, very soft leather and an odd pot plant in the corner. Except without the potplant.

Lexus ES: Drive and handling

The thing is, these days it seems every car maker is obsessed with being sporty. Sedans are often marketed on their ability to tear up the Autobahn or attack twisty mountain passes. And don’t get me wrong, I like cars with a bit of an edge. But I like being relaxed almost as much and it’s difficult to find a car that is as obsessed with comfort as it is with going around corners.

It’s a large car this, it feels like it might be straddling two segments, somewhere between an E Class Merc and the bigger S Class. Interior space is generous, but the front seating area is cleverly designed to feel cosy so you don’t feel lost. And because it’s front wheel drive, a rarity in this segment, the rear seating is not intruded upon by the drivetrain, meaning extra hip and leg room. The rear seating can be described as vast; if you have small children you might want to fit them with a tracker or something similar.

The car’s drivetrain is a big clue to how this model has been conceptualised. A big front-wheel drive saloon was never going to win any dynamic awards, but I get the feeling Lexus don’t mind at all. This is a car designed to soak up mile after mile, wafting over long distances like some sort of mobile spa.

A soothing commuter

This car won’t appeal to everybody, but if you face a long commute every day, or a frustrating bumper to bumper grind to work, the big ES is a soothing alternative to many of the established players. To be frank, driving in cities is not fun. Commuting is not fun. It’s a chore. And you might as well be comfy while doing chores. Driving the ES is like wearing fluffy slippers while mowing the lawn.

Engines and power specs for the Lexus ES

There are only two derivatives available, the ES250 and ES300h. The 250 runs a 2.5 litre, 135kw petrol motor, offering 235Nm. On the face of it, those aren’t incredible figures for what is quite a big car, but in practice the car is not sluggish. Overtaking manoeuvres can be pulled off confidently as the 6-speed auto’box confidently kicks down a few gears to make the best of the available shove.

Lexus ES Safety and standard specs

Typically of Lexus, safety levels are high and there are loads of options as standard. Featuring 10 airbags, blind spot monitoring, a full infotainment system with SATNAV, electric heated seats, automatic rear blind and a decidedly luxurious interior, you certainly feel like you’ll be getting your money’s worth. In fact, it makes many other manufacturers look very Scroogish indeed with their options lists.

That said, the drivetrain is rather dated and dynamically at least, the Lexus ES does lag behind rivals that might even pre-date it. But again, this is a car designed in a bid to attract buyers who are more interested in inner peace than forced induction.

Lexus ES Summary

Keenly priced against a host of rivals, the ES is positioned in price terms against smaller cars in the segment below. If you are in the market for a car like a Mercedes C-Class, you could spend similar money here and park a much larger, much more luxurious and highly specced car on your driveway.

Prices start at R435 900 for the ES250 and the hybrid comes in at R515 000. While I haven’t sampled the hybrid, it runs a similar system (albeit with a bigger petrol motor) seen in the Lexus CT200h, which I found smooth and seemless. Fuel consumption for the hybrid is claimed at 5.5 litres/100km – impressive for a car this size.

Lexus ES250 price in South Africa

The Lexus ES250 retails for R435 900. Price includes a 4 year warranty or 100 000km. Also includes 4 year service plan

We like: ·   Soothing ride quality .   Vast interior space .   Incredible list of standard features

We don’t like: ·    Not for enthusiastic drivers .    Plain Jane looks .    Limited choice of engines

Lexus ES250 specifications

Engine:                   2.5 litre naturally aspirated petrol V6 Power:                     135kW @ 6000rpm Torque:                  235Nm @ 4100rpm Transmission:     six-speed automatic Wheels:                  17-inch alloy 0-100km/h:         9.8 seconds (claimed) Fuel economy:    8.0l/100km (claimed on the combined cycle)

Also consider: BMW 3-Series GT

Lexus ES photo gallery