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Car reviews - Lexus - ES - 300h Sports Luxury

IMAGE BREAKER: If the ES is a grandpa’s car, then hike up my trousers and hand me a cardigan.


Updated seventh-generation Lexus ES remains a class act


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31 Jan 2022

ALONG with the LS, the ES is now the longest-serving nameplate in Lexus’ line-up. The ES mid-sized sedan was introduced at the launch of the Lexus brand back in 1989 and has now advanced through seven generations… each model has presented its own styling, content, and mechanical configuration despite having close architectural ties with its contemporary Toyota Camry cousin.


The XZ10-series ES – which was updated late last year following its initial launch in 2018 – is no different. Based on TMC’s GA-K platform, this ES is closely related to the XV70-series Toyota Camry and (discontinued) XX50-series Toyota Avalon, and shares chassis fundamentals with the XU70-series Toyota Kluger, XA50-series Toyota RAV4 and AZ20-series Lexus NX, to name a few.


By way of comparison, the ES measures 4975mm in length, 1865mm in width and 1445mm in height, which makes it 70mm longer and 25mm wider than the current-generation Camry. It is the same height, but rides on a slightly longer wheelbase than its Toyota counterpart (2870 v 2825mm) and tips the scale at 1740kg, some 85kg more than the top-spec Camry SL hybrid. 


The ES also has the smaller boot of the two at 473 litres (-51 litres).


Lexus says the newly updated ES is lighter and more highly specified than before, replete with additional safety and driver assistance technologies that are now included as standard. For 2022, the ES includes intersection assist with turn assist, emergency steering assist – part of an expanded suite of AEB technologies – and Lexus’ full suite of on-board connected services. 


Automatic high-beam assist, radar-guided cruise control, road-sign assist, parking support brake (including an intelligent sonar-based clearance system) and a 360-degree camera are also available (they’re included as standard on the Sports Luxury grade, however).


The ES range is offered with two powertrain options – a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine or a petrol-electric hybrid – and in three grade variants. Pricing begins from $61,620 (plus on-road costs), which represents an increase of $1930 over the pre-facelift model.


Despite the introduction of a dedicated petrol engine to the range, Lexus says it expects the hybrid versions to garner the lion’s share of sales. The ES300h (the “h” signifies hybrid) range is powered by a combination of a 160kW/221Nm multipoint injected 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor (paired to a continuously variable transmission) that drives the front wheels.


Fuel economy for the hybridised ES is listed at 4.8 litres per 100km (on the ADR combined cycle), with Lexus quoting a combined CO2 emissions figure of 109g/km. The ES300h is said to accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 8.9 seconds.


On test, the ES300h Sports Luxury brings what Lexus says is an “expanded choice for customers spending beyond $70,000”. 


Priced from $78,180 (plus on-road costs) it comes with semi-aniline leather-accented upholstery, rear seat heating and tri-zone climate control, while a Bamboo trim package is optional.


Hybrid derivatives are further equipped with adaptive dampers with two driver-selectable settings, a heated steering wheel, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, side blinds, rear power sunshade and a 14-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat.


The ES slots between the IS and LS in Lexus’ luxury sedan range. With the GS now gone from the Lexus line-up, the ES is left to rival competitors such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia (from $60,900, plus on-road costs), Audi A4 ($57,700), BMW 3 Series ($71,900), Genesis G80 ($84,776), Jaguar XE ($68,679), Mercedes-Benz C-Class ($66,900) and Volvo S60 ($62,490).

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