Lexus ES saloon - Interior & comfort
Build quality is excellent, but the fiddly infotainment system frustrates
Trying to push the Lexus ES is somewhat missing the point; this is a refined and comfortable cruiser that takes on the Mercedes E-Class for relaxed long-distance driving. For that reason, you should avoid the 19-inch wheels and stiffer suspension of the F-Sport model, which make the ride firmer and don’t feel as well suited to the ES’ laid-back nature.
Lexus ES dashboard
The dashboard is more driver-focused than the outgoing Lexus GS, while the overall build quality feels slightly better than the Jaguar XF, if not quite as good as the Germans. A transmission tunnel between the front seats gives a snug feel and this is where the controls for the infotainment system can be found.
A large head-up display helps keep your eyes on the road, while a 12.3-inch infotainment screen perches next to the instrument binnacle. It’s a large and clear display, but could be off-putting for new customers because it uses a fiddly touchpad interface. At least there’s now the option to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead.
The large screen only comes in the pricey Takumi trim level, though, which is a new range-topper named after Japanese master craftsmanship. Entry-level ES cars come with an eight-inch display, DAB radio, parking sensors, heated seats and a sunroof.
Stepping up to the F Sport trim adds sporty touches like figure-hugging front seats and adaptive sports suspension, while a powered boot, heated reclining rear seats, a 360-degree camera, LED adaptive headlights, triple-zone climate control and a Mark Levinson sound system are all reserved for the Takumi.
Like many Japanese models, options aren't as prevalent for the Lexus ES, but the F Sport Tech and Safety Pack adds a wireless smartphone charger, upgraded LED headlights and a heated steering wheel. You can also add a Takumi Pack to the F Sport trim, bringing most of the features fitted to the higher trim, including its 12.3-inch screen and Mark Levinson stereo.
Selecting the Takumi model also unlocks the option of spending £1,600 on 'Digital Side-View Monitors', which replace traditional door mirrors with two cameras and digital screens attached to either windscreen pillar. We found the picture wasn't clear enough, and there was a slight delay between what was happening and the image. Like most rival systems, it still doesn't feel like an intuitive replacement for traditional mirrors, even if some of the guides that appear on the display can be handy.