2022 Lexus ES
2022 Lexus ES
The Lexus ES is a luxury sedan that’s available as a hybrid. The ES offers good handling, strong powertrains, great safety, and a ride that rivals envy.
It’s been freshened for 2022, with styling tweaks including LED headlights on top models, a new touchscreen and interface, standard blind-spot monitors, and suspension improvements.
There are three engines to choose from, giving the ES three personalities: a solid inline-4, a smooth V-6, or an efficient hybrid. The 2.5-liter inline-4 makes a modest 203 horsepower and comes standard with all-wheel drive, in the ES 250. The sporty ES 350 uses a 3.5-liter V-6 that leaps all the way up to 302 horsepower, and is front-wheel drive. The ES 300h hybrid inhabits the middle zone with 215 horsepower from its 2.5-liter inline-4 and electric motor.
The AWD ES 250 is EPA rated at an excellent 25/34/28 mpg, while the V-6 ES 350 with FWD is also good, for having 100 more horsepower, rated at 22/32/26 mpg. But it’s the ES 300h hybrid that’s the star, naturally, at 43 mpg city, 44 highway, 44 combined.
The NHTSA gives the ES five overall stars for safety, with four stars in the frontal crash test. The IIHS gives the ES with LED headlights a Top Safety Pick + rating, and the rest of the lineup a Top Safety Pick. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high beams. Parking sensors and a surround-view camera system are optional.
Made in Kentucky and Japan, there’s the ES 250 4-cylinder with AWD, the ES 350 V-6, and ES 300h hybrid. Each model can become an F Sport with the package.
Interestingly, the 203-hp ES 250 and 302-hp ES 350 are the same price and have the same features, $41,875; so it’s a matter of trading all-wheel drive for 100 horsepower.
Those features include a synthetic leather upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay with Android Auto and Alexa, and 10-speaker Pioneer sound system.
We’re tempted to say the ES 300h is the real no-brainer, at least if you care about gas mileage, because it’s only $1,100 more, starting at $42,975. But temptations include options that can jack the price up by more than $10,000, namely the Ultra Luxury package with quilted leather, wood steering wheel, 14-way power seats, head-up display, surround-view camera system, and 12.3-inch touchscreen.
The F Sport is $46,425, no matter which powertrain sits under the hood. The F Sport starts with the Premium package of optional equipment, and adds heavily bolstered front seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, a rear spoiler, 19-inch black gloss wheels, and high-performance shocks with stiffer springs.
The ES offers a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, with two free service trips.
The ES flaunts graceful Lexus cues, starting of course with the spindle grille and stylish headlights, and adding taut character lines that begin with creases on the hood and flow back cohesively.
The F Sports have big 19-inch wheels that will make people think they’re peeking into jet engines when you pass.
The cabin trim is soothing, with sweet synthetic leather, wood and aluminum standard. The broad dash brings the standard 8.0-inch touchscreen or available 12.3-incher more than four inches closer to the driver for 2022.
The touchscreen is faster (and safer) than scrolling on the touchpad. Audio controls can be found on the steering wheel.
Upgrades to the interior include quilted leather in mocha or espresso, and open-pore walnut. It’s a quiet cabin, with sound deadening that includes lamination in the front windows.
The power front seats are comfortable, with available heat and cooling, and the steering wheel is trimmed in leather and wood.
With a length of 196 inches, the ES might be classed as either mid-size or full-size. It’s spacious for four passengers, and a fifth will fit in back for short and quick trips.
The rear seat doesn’t fold, but there’s a pass-through to the trunk, which measures 13.9 cubic feet.
The ES 250’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 203 horsepower, and it’s mated to an 8-speed automatic with standard all-wheel drive. It’s pegged at 8.5 seconds to reach 60 mph.
The ES 350 with 302 horsepower from its smooth V-6 is more popular. Its 267 pound-feet of torque gets the 3,700-pound sedan moving well enough. This engine also uses an 8-speed automatic. There are driving modes to satisfy a range of situations, from relaxed cruising to the Sport mode with its surprising gusto.
The ES 300h hybrid mates a 2.5-liter inline-4 with an electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery, to make 215 horsepower. It’s a proven parallel system that delivers driving without fuel at low speeds, and conservative power when internal combustion is needed. It doesn’t have an abundance of acceleration, and will grumble when it’s asked to give its all, but it’s calm about keeping up the freeway.
The ES Ultra Luxury has an improved suspension, with special dampers that have been successfully used on other Lexus sedans; they make the ride quieter, steering more direct (and firmer in Sport mode), and cornering flatter.
The 2022 Lexus ES has winning styling and refinement. Its wide range of powertrains tops out with a strong V-6—but we recommend the ES 300h and its superb 44-mpg fuel economy rating.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection