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In-depth reviews

Lexus ES saloon - Engines, drive & performance

The Lexus ES is best when driven at a relaxed pace, where its refinement shines through

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4.0 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

There’s just one engine available for the Lexus ES – a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol allied with an electric motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. In total, it produces 215bhp and a new hybrid control computer is said to better mimic the feel of a traditional petrol engine. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.9 seconds, so the ES is outpaced by most of its rivals, and it also has a modest 112mph top speed.

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It also feels slower than its on-paper stats suggest, because maximum acceleration is accompanied with a loud drone from the exhaust as the engine is held at high revs. In practice this makes it feel rather sluggish.

Unlike the rear-wheel-drive BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, the ES is front-wheel drive, making it more similar to some versions of the Audi A6 to drive. The chassis feels well sorted, with suspension that soaks up bumps nicely without allowing the body to wallow through bends and steering that's quite direct. Changes to the suspension for 2022 were introduced to make it feel even more stable, particularly during high-speed lane changes, but most drivers are unlikely to notice the difference.

Paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to choose from six programmed 'steps' in the CVT gearbox, but it still doesn’t feel like being completely in control of what’s happening between your right foot, the engine and front wheels.

But keen drivers are still unlikely to flock to the ES, because while the hybrid system is better than ever, it’s at its best when driving gently. Do so and it’s smooth and refined, but push harder and the ES doesn’t feel like it has quite enough grunt for a car of its size and weight. Paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to choose from six programmed 'steps' in the CVT gearbox, but it still doesn’t feel like being completely in control of what’s happening between your right foot, the engine and front wheels.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    300h 2.5 Premium 4dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £43,565

Most Economical

  • Name
    300h 2.5 Premium Plus 4dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £48,465

Fastest

  • Name
    300h 2.5 Premium 4dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £43,565

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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