Fresh off a 2019 redesign, the 2020 Lexus ES carries over with no significant changes. That’s fine by us, as the refresh brought plenty of change. The current Lexus ES is more likable than the older generation thanks to updated tech, good powertrains, and (to our eyes) better styling.
Choosing Your Lexus ES
The Lexus ES comes in four varieties: ES 350, ES 350 Luxury, ES 350 Ultra Luxury, and ES 350 F Sport. The first three are available available with a hybrid powertrain designated as ES 300h, ES 300h Luxury, and ES 300h Ultra Luxury, but equipment mirrors their gas-powered counterparts.
Pricing starts at $40,925 including destination for the base ES 350 and goes up to $51,785 for the ES 300h Ultra Luxury.
The ES comes with two power options: a V6 gas engine or a hybrid system based on a smaller four-cylinder engine. The hybrid costs $1,860 over the gas powertrain regardless of trim.
|Engine Type||Horsepower||Torque||Fuel Economy (Combined)|
|3.5L V6||302 hp||267 lb-ft||26 mpg|
|2.5L 4-Cylinder Hybrid||215 hp||176 lb-ft||44 mpg|
The V6 uses an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode, while the hybrid gets an electronic continuously variable transmission. Both send power to the front wheels.
For the price, buyers get slightly less performance but drastically improved efficiency, making the hybrid powertrain very appealing.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The Lexus ES will seat five passengers in comfort that befits a Lexus cruiser. Its 39.2 inches of rear leg room is just shy of the roomy Toyota Avalon, but it'll be plenty for most adults.
The ES doesn’t suffer on cargo space either, even carrying batteries for its hybrid powertrain – both variants can hold 16.7 cubic feet behind the seats. The rear seats do not fold, however.
The Lexus ES is a safety all-star. It pairs a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick Plus award from the IIHS with comprehensive standard safety tech. All ES models get lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, full-speed automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning.
Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a park assist system are bundled together for $1,065 on the base trim, but these features are standard on all other models.
The ES starts with an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 12.3-inch unit with navigation and voice command is standard on Ultra Luxury models, and available on all others through the $1,820 Navigation Package.
All systems run Lexus’s polarizing Remote Touch interface, which tries to mimic a smartphone but doesn’t always succeed. A 10.2-inch head-up display is a $500 standalone option on all trims, as is a wireless charger for $75.
Although it’s the cheapest way into a Lexus ES, the base ES 350 comes with a solid set of luxury features. A panoramic moonroof is standard, as are push button start, 10-way power adjustable front seats, LED headlights, and 17-inch wheels. Synthetic upholstery is the default, and leather upholstery isn’t available at this trim.
Heated and ventilated front seats come as part of the Premium Package ($1,375), which also adds memory settings, power-folding side mirrors, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and rain-sensing wipers.
The ES 350 Luxury offers a step up from the base in the seating and interior departments. Upholstery is perforated leather, the front seats are heated and ventilated, and the driver gets a 14-way power-adjustable throne with memory settings. Wood trim, ambient lighting, and a power-adjustable steering column are also included.
The lone sport-oriented trim, the ES 350 F Sport does its best to add some panache to a large sedan. This trim is only available with the gas engine, but it doesn’t receive any power upgrades. What the car does get are adaptive dampers, a tighter suspension, 19-inch rims, and heated and ventilated sport seats.
Both the interior and exterior get tough aesthetic accents, and the interior gets most of the upgrades of the Luxury trims. This doesn’t include upholstery – the F Sport gets synthetic seats only, although the NuLuxe can come in flashy red.
The ES 350 Ultra Luxury packs in a few extra creature comforts. Those would be semi-aniline leather upholstery, rear sunshades, and a hands-free trunk. The Ultra Luxury trim also gets lateral performance dampers, which Lexus says will improve handling without compromising the ride.
The Goldilocks approach is best when browsing the 2020 Lexus ES lineup: the ES 350 Luxury trim is the best value. F Sport tuning sharpens the ES’s reflexes a little, but don’t expect a sport sedan.