Lexus’ comfortable midsize ES sedan returns for the new model year with major updates, the most significant being a new four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive variant. The promise of added traction should keep the 2021 Lexus ES competitive with key rivals like the Volvo S90, Genesis G80, and Cadillac CT5, all of which have or offer all-wheel drive.
In the 2021 Lexus ES250 AWD, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder sends 203 horsepower to all four wheels. To help navigate slippery roads, the system can direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear axle; when not needed, the AWD system disengages the rear drive setup to save fuel. The new powertrain will have no effect on the ES’s generous legroom or trunk room, Lexus says.
Lexus is estimating 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving for the all-wheel-drive model. If that proves to be true, it’ll be more efficient than the front-drive ES, which tops out at 26 mpg combined. There is of course, a catch: The front-drive ES, dubbed the ES350, features a more robust but less efficient 3.5-liter V-6 doling out 302 horsepower. Buyers looking for maximum efficiency will want to stick with the ES300h’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid setup, which translates to 215 total system horsepower and a 44-mpg combined rating—but is restricted, like the V-6, to front-wheel drive.
The 2021 model year will see the continuation of the F Sport lineup, which will now be available with AWD. Regardless of how many wheels are being driven, the F Sport boasts a more athletic suspension than regular ES models and 19-inch wheels.
New to the lineup is the Black Line Special Edition, based on the ES350 F Sport. It features a black rear lip spoiler, black mirrors, and darkened wheels, as well as a white and black interior with gray stitching. Three paint jobs will be available: Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, Obsidian, and Ultra White. Lexus will only make 1,500 units.
The Lexus ES already features a slew of safety features, but there’s one key addition for 2021: The Luxury, F Sport, and Ultra Luxury models now feature standard blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
The 2021 Lexus ES hits dealerships in the early fall. Lexus has announced prices, with both the ES350 and ES250 AWD starting at $40,925. That base price remains the same as last year. Black Line models go for $47,575, an increase of $850 over the regular F Sport price. Meanwhile, the ES300h hybrid will begin at $42,835.
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