Often forgotten, the Lexus ES mid-size luxury sedan has quietly been around since the dawn of the brand. Now onto its seventh generation, the ES has been able to resist the temptation to add too much sportiness to its recipe and kept its charm as an elegant and comfortable people mover. We have borrowed the keys to the refreshed 2022 Lexus ES 250 AWD and set out to evaluate its worthiness in today’s performance-oriented world.
Rocking fresh new sheetmetal that shares a lot of resemblance to the flagship LS 500, the ES 250 AWD looks strikingly beautiful especially in this Iridium (read: silver) paint job. The newly designed headlights and front grille is sharp, and we love that the ES has completely shed its “Camry-plus” image this time around from its fraternal twin.
Three powertrains are available for the Lexus ES lineup. Our ES 250 AWD is the base model with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that outputs 203 horsepower to all four wheels with the mid-trim ES 350 being the powerhouse of the group pumping out 302 horsepower through its front wheels using a 3.5-litre V6. Topping the lineup is the ultra-efficient ES 300h that squeezes out 215 horsepower by adding an electric motor to the base 2.5-litre plant.
As one would expect given the paltry power figure from the four-cylinder engine, acceleration is not the ES 250 AWD’s strong suit. Getting going from a stop requires conscious effort from the throttle and one should pre-plan their overtakes and highway on-ramp maneuvers, accompanied by a coarse sound when the engine is underload that is not fitting to the luxury car experience. We realize we are being harsh here but that is the standard we have come to expect from Lexus, and the fact that the creamy-smooth V6 is available for just $3,700 more is a constant reminder that there is something more suitable out there despite the V6 being front-drive only.
The good part is that while the acceleration performance is not up to par, its driving dynamics certainly make up a lot of the loss ground. The steering response is quite accurate with good weight, and the reworked suspension geometry improves on what is already a solid platform to allow the ES to stay planted in the corners. The size of the brake pedal has been increased on the 2022 ES and its braking system has also been improved to offer us a confidence inspiring feel throughout the week.
Fuel economy for the ES 250 AWD is rated at 9.5L/100km in the city and 7.0L/100km on the highway for an average of 8.4L/100km. Our observed consumption for the week came in at a higher than expected 10.5L/100km for our city-heavy commute, and we attribute that to the heat wave forcing us to keep the air conditioning on high all week as well as our active search for power for evaluation purposes. The real bonus here is regular grade gasoline is accepted for the 60-litre tank which offers meaningful savings not typically found in luxury vehicles these days.
Comfort has always been the priority for the Lexus ES, and the 2022 ES 250 AWD manages to deliver. There is plenty of head and legroom throughout, and the seats are very well supported even for long distance travel. The suspensions are tuned to absorb most road imperfections, and we applaud Lexus engineer’s decision to keep its wheels relatively small at 17 inches to accommodate thicker tires that further isolated bumps and vibrations. Trunk volume is rated at 394 litres with a wide opening that can easily accommodate bigger cargoes.
The interior layout follows what Lexus calls ‘Seat in Control’, meaning that all the controls are well within reach for its driver and all of the information one needs is in plain sight. We loved the multimedia display on the console that now supports touch command to avoid having to use the clunky touchpad, and the upgraded 12.3-inch display offers good resolution and acceptable touch response. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across all trims, and the standard ten-speaker stereo’s sound quality is better than expected. Those looking for higher sound quality will need to step up to the ES 350 or ES 300h for the optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
Also standard across all 2022 Lexus ES models is the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 driver assistance technology, including Dynamic Radar Cruse Control, Automatic High Beam, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Bicycle Detection, Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems. We also had the optional Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking system to aid us as part of the Premium Package.
Pricing for the 2022 Lexus ES 250 AWD starts at a reasonable $46,200, with our tester getting the optional paint job for $500, and the Premium Package for $3,700 that brought our as-tested total to $50,400. While the price tag puts it up against competition such as the Acura TLX, BMW 3-series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Lexus ES offers additional comfort and interior space that put it in a league of its own.
At the end of the week, the tried-and-true recipe of a comfortable and spacious luxury sedan proves itself once again that performance is not the solution to everything. The 2022 Lexus ES 250 AWD might not have been our first choice as car enthusiasts, but it is a solid option for many who aren’t necessarily looking to just drive. The recent refresh makes it much better to look at and live with, and we would recommend giving both the inline-four and the V6 a try to see whether all-weather traction or refinement is the priority for you.