First drive in the updated Lexus ES

A Lexus sedan, especially the ES, has always been synonymous with comfort, refinement and luxury. It has seen some great success for the brand, selling more than 2.3 million units worldwide. And now, it has had a teeny tiny minor update. Why fix what ain’t broke as ‘they’ say.


There are still three models on offer which are the ES 250 petrol EX, the ES 300h EX and the SE grades. Now, if you saw the updated model driving past you, you would be forgiven for thinking that nothing has changed at all. But like I said, it is a minor update. So the front end has received a few tweaks to the grille and headlamps.

The all new Global Architecture-K (GA-K) platform allowed for a lower bonnet line which the ES’s Chief Designer, Yasuo Kajino, says gave them the freedom to produce a distinctive silhouette with a strong downward slant, creating a dynamic yet fluid shape. There are also two different 17 and 18-inch alloy wheel designs available between the three ES models- with the Hybrid SE boasting a new wheel design that creates a sporty and high-grade image. Basically, it is still a beautifully stylish car, but I shall let you decide that.


Lexus ES

It is even harder to tell what has changed inside the cabin, but a new high-resolution 12.3-inch widescreen display has been brought forward by more than 100 mm, compared with the current model, debuting touch-display functionality to increase usability options for the driver and front passenger. The driving position has been tweaked as has the steering wheel position, which is obviously something that would be hard to see, one just has to get in to feel the changes really.

Overall it is a comfortable cabin, but it is somewhat outdated in feel. I can’t help but think that the rivals are far more modern in design. But then, this cuts them in terms of price, so you need to weigh up your options. Speaking of options, there is no need to add any to your car because the ES, regardless of model grade, is really well specced. You can enjoy keyless smart entry, a moonroof, twin-front and twin-rear USB-C ports, DAB+ digital radio, 10-speaker audio (EX grades), Mark Levinson 17 Speaker audio (SE) and both with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.


The ES is not a model for the enthusiasts, as it were. It is not about the performance. This is not to say that it is sluggish by any means, but it is more about the cruise. When I think of the old guy customer driving this car, he/she is probably not after a dynamic and spirited drive. It is more about the refinement, the smooth power delivery and the luxury you experience. And the ES ticks all of these boxes.

The ES is powered by either a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit which is mated to an eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission. It produces 152 kW and 243 Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.6l/100 km. Or you can opt for the more interesting of the range, the 300h grades, which are powered by the new hybrid system mated to the aforementioned 2.5-litre unit. Fuel consumption is claimed at 4.6l/100 km, but I saw readings closer to around 6.4l/100 km. Which is still great considering the size of this car.


I don’t think there is much needed in order to improve the ES. I think it is exactly what someone in this market is looking for. I don’t want to say it is boring, because that wouldn’t be correct. And it isn’t necessarily forgettable. It just gets the job done without you having to think about it. And sometimes, these make for the best cars. It might just need a bit of a revamp when it comes to the controls and the cabin in general, but even that I am willing to look past. I have no doubt that the ES will continue to be the best selling sedan Lexus has to offer.

The price points for the range are Lexus ES 250 EX retails for R719 400, the ES 300h EX for R774 400 and the top of the range retails for R948 400. All models come standard with a 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. 

Lexus ES

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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