- Doors and Seats
4 doors, 5 seats
2.5i, 4 cyl.
- Engine Power
Petrol (95) 6.6L/100KM
8 Spd Auto
5 Yr, Unltd KMs
- Ancap Safety
5/5 star (2018)
With the Lexus IS discontinued, the mid-sized Lexus ES is now the brand’s entry point for a sedan. What’s it like?
- Quiet and comfortable cabin
- Huge second row
- Five year warranty – finally!
- Can feel underpowered
- Infotainment trackpad could be better
- Thirsty on test
Think about this: if you want the most comfortable, reliable, yet fancy way to move five adults, why not look at what the experts use?
That’ll be the Lexus ES sedan. After remaining unchanged since 2018, the mid-sized Lexus went through an update in October 2021. A favourite amongst luxury and higher-tier fleet operators, it also doubles as an excellent candidate for the private car buyer too.
As promised by Rob Margeit at the Australian launch of the Lexus ES range, we’ve managed to get our hands on the entry-level 2022 Lexus ES250 that was missing from the local line-up, until now.
And for good reason – given the smaller, sportier and rear-wheel drive Lexus IS sedan has been discontinued, the front-drive ES may have to do the heavy lifting. For this review, we’re evaluating the ES250 Luxury model, which is now the cheapest Lexus sedan you can get.
It’s priced from $64,320 before on-roads before extras like metallic paint, and sits underneath the excellent 2022 Lexus ES300h hybrid. If you value the battery and electrification, the hybrid will cost you $1930 more, or $66,250 before fruit.
The petrol-only ES250 on the other hand uses a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder with 152kW/243Nm and an eight-speed torque converter-equipped auto. If those figures don’t get you moving, then it’s worth stepping up to the F Sport model.
Although it packs the same running gear, it does offer performance-inspired features and a sharper suspension tune, which will be enough for some. One of those will cost you $73,560 before on-roads, or $9240 more than our regular 2022 Lexus ES250 Luxury test car.
So, what’s it like from the front seat?
|Key details||2022 Lexus ES250|
|Price (MSRP)||$64,320 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Deep Blue|
|Options||Premium paint – $1750|
|Price as tested||$66,070 plus on-road costs, $69,512 drive-away (Sydney)|
|Rivals||Audi A4 | Mercedes-Benz C-Class | BMW 3 Series|
As expected, the 2022 Lexus ES250 is both pleasant and welcoming at first glance. Our test car was configured with the no-cost option of a contrasting Hazel interior, which I personally think looks fantastic.
Generally speaking, the interior colourway usually reserved for a ‘boring’ sedan is a monotonous tragedy of black plastic and leather. The free choice to bring some colour, theatre, and maybe even move more upmarket, feels like a good move to make.
Once your bum’s on the seat, the Lexus ES250 continues to impress. Both the driver’s and passenger’s pews are comfortable, electrically adjustable and heated, albeit a little flat and un-sculpted. Thankfully the seat base extends enough to support your thighs, and the seat back is wide enough for a taller and heavier than average person.
The myriad traditional touchpoints will divide opinion in terms of ambiance however. I’m sure some readers will look at the multitude of unnecessary buttons and their different types – alongside an analog clock – and question whether we’re in the year 2022.
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Then there are others, who will look at the dedicated air-conditioning controls and CD player and find comfort in the cabin’s traditional and easy-to-use nature. Personally, I side with the latter, but still see room for improvement, particular when it comes to the Lexus infotainment system.
Call the vibe traditional and honest then. So, much to my surprise, when I discovered two USB-C ports in the armrest that I thought initially stymied my attempts at connecting to Apple CarPlay.
Turns out there’s also a pair of regular USB-A ports – which work for smartphone mirroring including android auto – that remain for luddites like this reviewer.
It’s a shame the old-school USB ports are still buried under two lids however, as leaving your cable exposed does look untidy. Other modern touch points include a clever yet simple bottle holder with an adjustable height base. It’s party trick of being extendable means you can throw in your smoothie, shake or whatever vessel you use with your blender, pending its narrow enough to fit (most of mine did).
The rest is as expected, with a decent armrest storage area big enough for a small women’s bag, a pair of smaller cup holders placed in front of the CD player that render it useless (you weren’t using it anyway), and a smaller than average glovebox.
Over in the back, there’s plenty of room for adult passengers. Sitting behind my own driving position (I’m 183cm tall), I could kick my legs forward and under the front seat, slightly-stretch out and enjoy the ride. The only downside is the sloping roofline which does run close to the back of your head, but that’s as bad as it gets.
Three adults would fit, but two would find it fantastic. Parents with rearward-facing child seats will notice the sloping roofline somewhat when loading their offspring, but it’s still a workable situation.
More important is that front passenger legroom is not affected when a rearward child seat is installed, however. With the seat moved forward facing, things become a doddle, as there’s heaps of room for your kids to kick – and miss – the seatbacks.
In terms of other things to keep them busy, there’s another two USB-C ports to charge devices, a fold-down armrest with big-enough storage to home more devices and a pair of large cup-holders, rear air vents, and 12-volt power outlet.
Boot space is huge at 473L, but remember the Lexus ES250 is a sedan. That means the boot opening is small and narrow which stifles any idea of a late-minute Ikea visit.
It also means that stacking objects that do fit requires you bend over and reach deep into the boot’s bowels near the seat backs, which may be hard for those with knackered joints.
|2022 Lexus ES250|
Infotainment and Connectivity
If there’s one area Lexus could pick up its game, it’s infotaiment.
However, it’s not the hardware. Standard on all Lexus ES cars – regardless of the trim level – is a fantastic 12.3-inch display. Not only is the display large, but it’s chipset has enough power to boot-up fast, load various menus swiftly, and power smartphone mirroring.
Its the touchpad interaction point that feels old hat. Not only is it clumsy to use by even the most coordinator operators (not yours truly), it’s also laborious to interact with.
You find yourself making multiple swiping gestures in a feeble attempt to get halfway across the screen, because as expected, the interface was not designed wholly with smartphone mirroring in mind. Even some of Lexus’ own menus feel tightly grouped and can be frustrating to interact with.
Consider the touchpad an outdated and superseded product then, as others have moved to solely touch-screen and voice interaction (Audi) or updated their systems to incorporate touch, remote inputs, voice and mid-air gestures (BMW).
If Lexus wants to play in the premium space, it’s going to need to offer more. The new NX SUV shows that Lexus already has this move in mind. The standard-fit 10-speaker stereo system is good enough for the money, but is still nowhere near as good as the Mark Levinson gear found in upper-grade trim levels.
It handled the classic reference tracks of Intergalactic by Beastie Boys with some vigor, and Super Freak by Rick James with justifiable intensity and brightness.
Safety & Technology
All Lexus ES sedans in the range wear a five-star ANCAP safety badge having been officially crash tested in 2018.
It scored decently for adult occupant protection (91 per cent) and vulnerable road user protection (90 per cent), but fell down in terms of advanced safety assist systems (76 per cent).
Still, the Lexus ES250 features Lexus Safety System+ which includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, an advanced form of lane keeping system, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, road sign recognition, and emergency steering assist.
Overall, it’s well equipped in terms of safety tech. The only thing it’s missing is reverse automatic braking.
|2022 Lexus ES250|
|ANCAP rating||Five stars (tested 2018)|
|Safety report||ANCAP report|
Value for Money
If you’re after a traditional ‘large’ sedan – now somewhat of a grey area due to the dynamic nature of vehicle shapes and sizes – the Lexus ES250 is probably the last of its kind.
Costing around $68,000 drive-away before options, it still represents fair buying. The Audi A4 35 TFSI is a couple of grand cheaper at $65,000 on the road, but does lack both equipment and space compared to the Lexus. The cheapest all-new 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is well over $80,000 on the road, meaning it’s a different ballgame all together.
The closest match right now is the BMW 3 Series, which starts from $69,900-drive in entry-level 320i Sport trim for a limited time. A ‘regular’ 320i Luxury or M Sport is closer to $77,000 drive-away.
As of January 2022 the Lexus range comes standard with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty. That puts Lexus on par with the bulk of brands in Australia when it comes to aftersales care.
|At a glance||2022 Lexus ES250|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1305 (3 years)|
Under the Lexus Encore program, servicing a 2022 Lexus ES250 costs $495 for the first three services expected to be conducted 15,000km or yearly, whichever comes first. That means the first three years cost $1305, or around $500 less than one of the competitors mentioned above. The prices for years four and five depend on the dealership, so we’re unable to quote the exact cost.
In terms of fuel usage, we saw 8.0L/100km over a busy and metro-skewed road loop. The official combined figure is 6.6L/100km, but given the lack of power, you’ll find yourself using lots of the throttle pedal to keep-up with peak-hour traffic.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||6.6L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||8.0L/100km|
|Fuel type||95-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||60L|
If you have fond memories of smooth-riding sedans of the 2000s – many of which are Australian – then you’re in the right place.
The Lexus ES250 channels all that was good about that era. Its suspension is tuned wonderfully soft and supple, meaning it turns broken Sydney roads into just regular roads. It’s a benefit you use everyday, as I found the age-old path of my daily routine a far more pleasant experience in the Lexus.
Some of the illusion cast stems from the lack of noise heard in the cabin, as it’s bloody well insulated and quiet. Even bombing over coarser-chip freeways – the ones that made a 2022 Subaru BRZ unbearable the week before – didn’t result in interruption.
As a result, it’s not the most-dynamic sedan Lexus has produced, which could be a problem for you. If you liked the harder-edged ride and poise found in the outgoing rear-wheel drive Lexus IS, then I’ll wager that the Lexus ES250 Luxury is not the car for you.
Sadly, your logical answer would have been the Lexus GS, which was discontinued last year. However, if you appreciate the way either your Lexus IS or GS conducts itself on the day-to-day, then you’ll find plenty of merit here.
You could argue that the Lexus ES does more of the ‘everyday’ stuff better than both the IS and GS, which were beholden to maintaining pace with Europe’s more sporty vehicles. It’s the more comfortable car, that’s also quieter, more efficient, and in-turn better to live with, especially if you care for fuss-free luxury car ownership.
Something else that’ll align to that philosophy is the powertrain, too. Powering the 2022 Lexus ES250 is a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, with 152kW/243Nm. It sends power through an eight-speed torque converter transmission then on to the front-wheels.
Given it weighs nearly 1700kg means the performance isn’t brisk. As the fuel usage figure revealed earlier (8.0L on-test versus 6.6L claimed), I found myself flexing the powertrain uneconomically to get the job done at times, especially in Sydney’s mad peak-hour traffic.
Some of that comes down to the engine’s torque figure; which is both low overall and occurs too high in the rev range to be beneficial around town. It’s those quick moments of on-roll acceleration from 50km/h onward where the Lexus gets caught out, and feels just a touch underpowered.
Still, there’s a lot to be said about not rushing, taking a little longer, and using less fuel in the process, but the rest in this class have moved on to forced-induction or hybridisation for a reason.
|Key details||2022 Lexus ES250|
|Engine||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Power||152kW @ 6600rpm|
|Torque||243Nm @ 4000-5000rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque convertor automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||90.5kW/t|
Overall, the fuss-free and simplistic nature of the Lexus ES250 means it’ll appeal to some.
It’s also clear why people use a Lexus ES to drive well-heeled passengers around, as for the price tag it really does cut the mustard as a premium and luxurious feeling experience.
For passengers, it’s quiet, comfy, roomy, and with enough USB ports to change your devices and keep you occupied. For drivers, it’s wonderfully smooth and easy to live with, albeit a touch underpowered at times.
It’s not the most high-tech or the most-powerful either, but it goes about moving adults and kids in a way many SUVs could dream of.
If you want the ultimate refinement for your family sub-$70K, it’s clear you take a leaf out of the professional’s book and try the 2022 Lexus ES range.