The 2021 Lexus ES is one of the best luxury sedans that starts under $40,000. While the new ES packs an admirable amount of performance, this car’s main objective is to keep passengers comfy. Roomy seating and a supremely smooth ride ensure pure relaxation on the road. Superior reliability also gives the new ES a clear edge over most of its European competitors. However, is this the right car for you?
What’s New for 2021?
The major change for 2021 is the arrival of a new ES 250 AWD model, which brings a new four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive. Lexus has also welcomed a new limited-production Black Line Special Edition model into the lineup. Furthermore, onboard Wi-Fi is no longer an extra cost.
What Styles Does It Come In?
This is a five-passenger sedan. While the ES has traditionally been a front-wheel-drive car, it now offers an intelligent AWD system for the first time ever.
What Are the Available Trims?
Although the ES 250 AWD and ES 350 have different powertrains, these two base models have virtually the same standard features. Buyers get a lot of value for their money. Key amenities include dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats with two-way lumbar, and Lexus NuLuxe upholstery.
Lexus also equips the base trim levels with a nice list of electronics. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface allows drivers to access information on a standard 8.0-inch display. Meanwhile, a 10-speaker Pioneer audio system provides the necessary entertainment. Other conveniences include onboard Wi-Fi, four USB ports, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto phone integration. An optional Premium package brings heating and ventilation functions for the front seats.
Featuring genuine leather upholstery and wood interior accents, the Luxury trim feels a bit plushier on the inside. Meanwhile, the Ultra Luxury trim adds adaptive suspension dampers for an even smoother ride.
The F Sport model is for drivers who desire a more aggressive look and sportier handling. Sport seats and exclusive performance gauges give the cabin a more exciting atmosphere. A sport steering wheel is optional. New for 2021 is the Black Line Special Edition, which is essentially a blacked-out version of the F Sport model. Keep in mind that a few stand-alone options are available for the new ES, including a stunning 1,800-watt sound system and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen.
The ES’ Exterior Styling
In the past, the ES didn’t really command much attention on the street. However, the latest generation no longer has a Plain Jane appearance. A sleeker roofline and bold front fascia help the ES to make its presence known. Expect the racy F Sport version to have an even more striking look. Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 and Matador Red Mica are two of the more vibrant paint options.
The sedan’s infotainment screen is located atop the dash, which helps promote easier viewing for drivers. Expect the optional wide-screen display to produce stunning graphics. However, some drivers may not like using the interface’s touchpad controller. There’s also a lack of physical buttons to adjust the climate settings. Fortunately, both of the standard and optional audio system sound good.
The sedan’s newly available four-cylinder engine is mostly designed to save fuel. However, its 203-horsepower output will propel the ES with ease. Performance is noticeably livelier with the Toyota-built V6 engine, which develops 302 horsepower. A prompt-shifting, automatic eight-speed gearbox is found throughout the lineup.
With all-wheel drive now being offered, the 2021 Lexus ES is no longer a handicap for drivers living in snow-prone areas. While the standard ES delivers a remarkably plush and quiet ride, some drivers will prefer the F Sport model’s more athletic handling. It comes equipped with a stiffer sport suspension.
For such a big luxury car, the 2021 Lexus ES manages to deliver a rather thrifty performance. Its newly available four-cylinder engine improves efficiency to around 25 mpg town/34 mpg freeway. Estimates for the V6-powered ES stand at 22 mpg town/32 mpg freeway. Unlike many of today’s other luxury sedans, the new ES actually runs on regular unleaded gas.
Quality and Comfort
This sedan rewards passengers with an above-average amount of legroom. Supple seats ensure exceptional everyday comfort. Although the new Lexus ES may not feel quite as lavish as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, its overall quality is outstanding for the price. All the interior materials feel durable. Impressive insulation helps keep road and wind noise muffled at all times.
The 2021 Lexus ES received a top overall safety rating from the federal government’s crash-testing agency. Buyers also don’t have to pay extra for the sedan’s most important safety technologies. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and advanced cruise control all come standard. For drivers who want to further enhance their level of awareness, Lexus offers blind-spot warning and a surround-view camera system.
The 2021 Lexus ES is a fine entry-level luxury sedan. Newly available all-wheel drive expands its appeal. Before choosing a more expensive German model, car shoppers definitely need to take the ES for a test drive.
Formula for Calculating Dealer Cost:
Total Dealer Cost - Rebate and Incentive + Taxes / Licensing Fees = True Dealer Cost. (You can get rebates and incentives here.)
Note: All Lexus ES MSRP, invoice and dealer cost dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.
A note about rebates: Most rebates are subtracted from the "on the road" figure. In most cases, you can have the rebate if you are arranging your own financing or you are paying cash. If you decide to use the manufacturer’s low interest financing, you do not usually get the rebate. Ask your dealer for details.