2021 Lexus ES250 AWD first review: luxury for the masses

Lexus ES Complete overview

“Affordable luxury” is usually a contradiction in terms, especially when it comes to midsize luxury sedans. However, the Lexus ES250 AWD 2021 could be the exception to the rule. Starting at $ 41,025, the Lexus ES250 AWD 2021 is a steal when compared to other competitors like the Genesis G80 or the Volvo S90, both of which are at least $ 7,000 more expensive. Yes, the Lexus has some compromises, such as its naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. However, the ES250 offers an entry-level price for the Lexus brand Other luxury automakers don’t offer buyers who want to step into their crease.

2021 Lexus ES250 AWD: Is It Really Luxurious?

You get a nice first impression when you enter the 2021 Lexus ES250 AWD. Although the cabin doesn’t have an X factor for raising eyebrows, it gives you a warm welcome. The available 12.3-inch screen is a good start, displays modern graphics and supports full-screen Ple CarPlay and Android Auto. Everything goes great until you touch the screen and find that the only way to control it is from the not-so-useful touchpad, which makes a simple task harder than it needs to be.

The large 12.3-inch screen with navigation is packaged along with a Mark Levinson 17-speaker system that sounds clear, and the stereo enhances the experience in the ES250. The upgrade costs $ 2,900, but it forces additional equipment worth $ 2,615, making it an expensive option. Both the screen and the premium audio system are fantastic, but they’re worth no more than $ 5,500.

Another great impression is the space and comfort in the cabin. Almost every previous Lexus ES was based on the same architecture as the Toyota Camry, but a few years ago Lexus adopted the Toyota Avalon platform for this model. The result is a larger, more spacious cabin – whether you are in the front or back seat. Space has always been a plus in the ES, but along with the adoption of the larger architecture, the designers lowered the hip point to create more headroom for passengers in the back seats. Regardless of where you sit, the leather feels soft and high quality, despite being an entry-level luxury sedan.

Our test model also came with a wood and leather steering wheel ($ 300) and wood paneling and ambient lighting ($ 740) throughout the interior, which definitely improved the appearance of the cabin.

Not all of our test drivers are fans of the center console design, but it does suit a luxury car. The three-tier setup gives the ES’s interior a kind of old-fashioned luxury feel, as opposed to the clean, minimalist look of many cars today. The design of the console also allows for quicker access to the air conditioning and radio controls. Meanwhile, the instrument cluster lacks a full digital display, which the competition has, but the optional 10.2-inch head-up display ($ 500) enhances the experience.

Unfortunately, despite the large amount of space in the Lexus ES250 2021, we don’t have any folding rear seats. This lack of versatility makes it impossible to accommodate larger items for the occasional trip to Ikea or Home Depot, and I personally missed them a lot when I couldn’t browse the web during my trip.

2021 Lexus ES250 AWD: The Drive

The 250 badge means this Lexus is powered by a 2.5 liter, four cylinder, non-turbo engine that develops 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. That’s a lot less than what the competition does, but the ES is also available with the more powerful V-6 for the same money that only powers the front wheels. If performance is less important to you and you live in a place where it snows frequently, the ES250 AWD might be the place to go.

The humble torque and power curves mean this Lexus never feels dynamic or punchy. The engine rating is surprisingly good, but unfortunately does not match what the driver feels behind the wheel. But the Lexus doesn’t feel completely sleepy either. On the track, the 2021 ES250 AWD made it to 60 mph in a lazy 8.2 seconds, but on the road it feels reasonable in terms of acceleration. While the car doesn’t feel powerful, it doesn’t feel sluggish either.

In addition to the inconspicuous power transmission, an eight-speed automatic transmission works relatively well. It chases gears occasionally but generally shifts smoothly. The steering feels a bit dull in normal mode, but sport mode adds weight and balance, as Chris Walton, editor of road tests, noted on the track. On the other hand, driving the ES is a refined and luxurious experience and one of the Lexus’s best attributes. No, the level of comfort is nothing like what you get in our 2021 Car of the Year, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which features Air Glide suspension for an impressive ride. The Lexus ES, however, is equipped with a strut front axle and multi-link rear suspension as standard, which makes the ride surprisingly pleasant and quiet – and even better than that of the new Genesis G80. Chief tester Walton also noted that the ES demonstrated good body control through tight turns on the track.

As with most Lexus models, there are three driving modes available: Eco, Normal and Sport. Eco completely switches off the engine power and weakens the driving experience, normal provides normal driving behavior and sport improves the driving experience by tightening the steering behavior and sharpening the throttle and transmission motive.

2021 Lexus ES250 AWD: Safety

Like all new Lexus models, the 2021 ES250 AWD also features the Lexus Safety System + 2.0, a series of safety assistants designed to make driving safer and reduce driver stress. While dynamic radar cruise control, lane following, and lane departure warning with steering are standard, buyers will need to spend an additional $ 1,065 on the rear cross-traffic blind spot monitor, which is packaged along with parking assist technology. Although the ES is the cheapest sedan in its class, we would like blind spot monitoring to be standard.

The IIHS did not rate the ES250, but the ES350 received the highest rating: Top Safety Pick +.

2021 Lexus ES250 AWD: should I buy it?

The new 2021 Lexus ES250 AWD offers tremendous value to a luxury brand known for building comfortable and reliable cars. If you don’t really care about overall performance but are on a medium budget and are looking for a decent amount of interior space, luxury, and all-wheel drive, the ES250 is for you. The ES is – at least at the beginning – below the price of the competition and offers a luxurious ride and a well-equipped cabin that, although not leading the segment, offers its occupants a real luxury experience.

Indeed, the ES is far from the segment leader, but it does many things well for a luxury midsize sedan. With the 250 model and all-wheel drive, the ES is intended to appeal to a wider audience. With that in mind, the 2021 Lexus ES250 AWD does luxury right.

Looks good! More details?

2021 Lexus ES250 AWD benefits:

  • Affordable price
  • Plush ride
  • Comfortable cabin

2021 Lexus ES250 AWD cons:

  • Weak engine
  • Not a powerful AWD variant
  • Irritating touchpad controls
2021 Lexus ES250 AWD
BASIC PRICE $ 41,025
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, all-wheel drive, 4-door sedan with 5 passages
ENGINE 2.5 l / 203 hp / 184 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F / R DIST) 3,723 lb (58/42%)
WHEELBASE 113.0 in
Length x width x height 195.9 x 73.4 x 57.1 in
0-60 MPH 8.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.2 seconds at 87.5 mph
BRAKES, 60-0 MPH 125 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.9 s at 0.62 g (average)
EPA CITY / HWY / COMB FUEL ECON 25/34/28 mpg
ENERGIEKONS, CITY / HWY 135/99 kWh / 100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.68 lb / mile

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