2021 Lexus ES250 – Lexus packs all-wheel drive in the popular ES
The Lexus ES has been around since the inception of the brand, which dates back to 1989. And while the ES has gone through many changes throughout the years, it has always remained a front-wheel drive sedan powered by a V6 engine. But for 2021, Lexus will now offer an ES that is different on two fronts: first, in that it is available with all-wheel drive (AWD), and second, those AWD models will be powered by a four-cylinder engine.
First, I want to make it clear, the ES is still available as the ever-so-popular ES350, which is the V6 powered front-wheel drive luxury sedan we have known for years. But now for the first time in seven generations, an AWD version is available – and when you opt for AWD, the ES gets a 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine – and a new name: the ES250.
As with the ES350, the ES250 is a luxury car through and through. Open the door to the ES250 and you’ll see how the door panels and center console are all wrapped in indulgent and cushiony leather that look so soft you just have to touch it to believe it. And if it’s not covered in leather, it’s probably set in wood (or both like the steering wheel). A huge 12.3-inch screen dominates the top of the dash, with the signature Lexus analog clock to its left. Like in the past, a touchpad-controller is used to navigate through the infotainment system – an either you love-it or hate-it system.
And not only is there plenty of room for the driver and all passengers, they all sit in luxury. Long ago, the ES was considered small, but when this current generation ES came out and Lexus adopted the larger Toyota Avalon platform over the previous Camry platform, the ES benefited with a much more spacious cabin regardless if sitting in the front or rear. The ES is often considered an entry-level sedan, but spend some time in the cabin and you will think it’s anything but entry-level.
When it comes to luxury, nothing is lost in the ES250. But when it comes to driveability, there is difference between the ES250 and the ES350. With only 203 ponies under the hood, the ES250 doesn’t have a lot of power. While it’s adequate in most situations, the engine does feel strained at times; making you wish it had a turbocharger for some extra help. Like in other ES models, the ES250 has a Drive Mode knob that can be switched from Eco to Normal to Sport. Sport enhances the drive experience a little, but still, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the ES is low on power.
But what the ES250 lacks in the power department it makes up for when it comes to all-weather driving. With AWD, the ES250 becomes ideal when weather conditions get bad or roads become sloppy. When the front wheels slip, the rear wheels receive as much as 50 percent of the engine’s torque, improving vehicle traction. I didn’t get an opportunity to test it, but just knowing it was there was an added sense of confidence.
The ES250 brings a tremendous value to the Lexus vehicle lineup. Now for under $50K, one can have a luxury sedan with a plush cabin and lots of room – and with all-wheel drive. While performance may not be in the picture, the ES250 should appeal to those where all-wheel drive is needed, thus expanding on the audience that the ES caters to.
– Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2021 Lexus ES250 AWD Ultra Luxury
Base Price: $48,900
Price as Tested: $54,325
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 2.5 liter inline 4- cylinder
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Horsepower (total): 203 hp
Torque: 184 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 25 city / 34 highway mpg
[Visit me at www.carsbycar.blogspot.com or email me at email@example.com]