Lexus ES (2018) Review
Lexus ES (2018) At A Glance
The Lexus ES is a replacement for the previous GS range and takes the fight to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class. Like its predecessor, the ES is resolutely only offered with petrol-electric hybrid power, so no diesel engines or pure EV models are available, and nor is an estate version. However, the ES is handsome with its four-door coupe-like looks and there’s plenty of room for passengers in the front and rear. It’s smooth to drive and the ES enjoys low running costs, but it doesn’t excite its driver in the way a BMW does.
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The Lexus ES is the direct replacement for the GS executive saloon. If you, or Lexus, 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.
On the other hand, if you liked the 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 kneeroom 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 the 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.