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View all Lexus ES reviews
Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
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Luxurious, refined and well-equipped executive saloon

Lexus ES Saloon (19 on) - rated 3.8 out of 5
Enlarge 25 photos

PROS

  • Sleek and eye-catching exterior styling
  • Relaxed and comfortable interior
  • Smooth and efficient hybrid engine
  • Strong cruising refinement  

CONS

  • Styling won’t suit all
  • Rivals are very competitive
  • Lack of engine options
  • Interior well-built, but busy design

PROS

  • Sleek and eye-catching exterior styling
  • Relaxed and comfortable interior
  • Smooth and efficient hybrid engine
  • Strong cruising refinement  

CONS

  • Styling won’t suit all
  • Rivals are very competitive
  • Lack of engine options
  • Interior well-built, but busy design

Verdict

Lexus ES Saloon infographic

Lexus’s car line-up has long provided slightly leftfield alternatives to the usual suspects in the premium sector of the market, and this ES model takes the fight to established rivals like the Audi A6BMW 5 SeriesJaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

The ES is actually in its seventh generation, but it’s the first time it’s been available to UK buyers, and is in fact the bestselling Lexus saloon in the world. Quite important then.

Where does the 2019 Lexus ES sit within the range?

For the UK, the ES replaces the GS, which had become quite an expensive alternative to its German rivals, with prices kicking off at around £45,000 at the end of its life. The GS will continue to be sold in other markets, but the ES is now the one to challenge the A6, 5 Series and E-Class on these shores, with a competitive £35k starting price and a bundle of kit thrown in as standard.

Unlike its rivals, the ES is hybrid-only – and is offered in just one engine derivative, a 218hp 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid badged ES 300h with claimed fuel economy between 52 and 59mpg and attractively low CO2 emissions to lure cost-conscious buyers and company car drivers alike.

Lexus ES 300h front styling

There’s unlikely to be a plug-in hybrid model, though. As Pascal Ruch, Lexus’s director of Europe explained to Parkers: ‘For the short-term, the full “self-charging” hybrid is the most pragmatic solution. With what we have today, Lexus has the strongest offering.’ 

If you’re holding out for a diesel-engined ES, then forget it – there won’t be one.

Sharper Lexus styling

As we’ve come to expect from Lexus, the ES boasts a sharp design with a bold front grille, plenty of curves and creases in its body work and plenty of neat design details throughout that take influence from the much more expensive LC coupe and LS saloon.

Lexus ES exterior

Slightly long overhangs aside, we think the ES is one of the most cohesive pieces of modern Lexus design, with an incredibly sleek look when viewed side on, tidy proportions at the rear of the car and no unnecessary slashes or strakes in the body.

Granted, it won’t suit all tastes, but it looks good in any spec and really stands out among its rivals.

Lexus ES interior

The cabin of the new ES is a step-up compared with the GS too, featuring a curvier and less geometric dash layout. There are some neat metallic details throughout, which Lexus says are inspired by traditional Japanese sword-making.

Either way, at the cabin’s centre is a 12.3-inch multimedia display (on higher-spec models) controlled by its second-generation remote touchpad system.

Lexus ES interior

It’s still a fiddly set-up compared with rival infotainment systems, but the screen is brighter and crisper than in the GS, and it doesn’t take quite as much faffing around to get everything working. The system also offers connected services and voice recognition, as well as a fantastic Mark Levinson sound system.

Everything inside the ES is covered in plush materials, whether it’s Lexus’s fake leather, which is soft to touch and squishy to lean on, while the dashboard materials and buttons all feel expensive, well made and like they’ll outlive the owner. There are no complaints when it comes to the quality of the inside of the ES.

Lexus ES rear seats

It doesn’t feel as big as its rivals inside – at least width-wise – but there’s a vast amount of legroom available in the rear of the ES, with controls for the infotainment system and the ability to move the passenger seat out of the way. The ES could make an excellent chauffeur car.

New platform equals better safety  

That longer wheelbase is made possible because the ES is based on a new car platform that also enables a raft of safety features called Lexus Safety System+, which features on the ES in its second-generation form.

Headline among the kit is the addition of ‘daytime cyclist detection’ to the Pre-Collision System which already looks out for oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. The same system has also been adjusted in terms of its radar sensitivity and range to better spot pedestrians at night.

Lexus ES front grille

It's paid dividends with the ES scoring a full five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating at the end of 2018, with a huge suite of driver assistance technology including adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, a lane-keeping system and several airbags throughout.

What is the Lexus ES like to drive?

Lexus promises the ES is a better car to drive than previous versions – as well as the GS it’s replaced – with more responsive, quicker steering and more power and capability, while remaining comfortable and quiet like any other Lexus.

Lexus ES rear action

The biggest difference between this and the GS is that it’s front-wheel drive, while F Sport models come with Adaptive Variable Suspension (like you’ll find on the LC), while entry-level ES and Takumi models have a more traditional set-up that focuses on comfort.

The good news is that it largely delivers on this promise. The ES feels surprisingly agile and quick to respond with sharp steering and good body control.

It’s not quite a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF, but it’s certainly up there, but is best left as a relaxed cruiser because of the eco-focused hybrid drivetrain.

Lexus ES front driving

Could there be a hot Lexus ES F?

Given that there’s not been a high-performance Lexus ES F in any market where the saloon’s been sold before, it’s highly unlikely, even if we’re on the lookout for the unexpected...

Lexus didn’t replace the previous-generation IS F and the outgoing GS F is very much a leftfield choice in a market dominated by the Audi RS 6, BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E 63.

Lexus ES trim levels and equipment

The range is a simple one, kicking off with entry-level ES, followed by a sportier looking F Sport model, and then Takumi sitting at the top of the range. Prices are far lower than the outgoing GS and undercut its rivals, too, but with a vast list of standard equipment thrown in.


The Parkers Verdict

The Lexus ES may well be a new name to UK buyers, but it’s an established model elsewhere and, in its seventh generation, offers a huge dose of style, a luxurious, well-appointed interior and very pleasant driving experience.

What it can’t offer is the far-reaching selection of engines found under the bonnets of its rivals, but if you want a cheap-to-run hybrid saloon that’s a little different, spacious and interesting, it’s well worth a look.

Lexus ES rear styling

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