The arrival of a new Toyota Camry usually heralds a redrawn Lexus ES, the upscale car that shares much of its make-up with that popular family sedan. But while the Camry is all-new for 2018 and there are rumours of a new ES, this car has been carried over from last year.
That means the return of gas-powered ES 350 and hybrid ES 300h models. The former uses a 3.5L V6 that makes 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, while the latter combines an electric motor with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine for 200 hp. The ES 350 delivers its power to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic, while the ES 300h does so with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
As the specs suggest, the ES 350 is the better performer of the two, its smooth, strong engine providing generous straight-line thrust. But we would argue the ES' laid-back chassis is better suited to the less-potent hybrid powertrain, which provides good low-end torque and mostly loses out to the gas model in high-end power. Both cars are delightfully quiet and smooth, the hybrid building on that with its ability to drive on electricity alone under light throttle.
Fuel consumption estimates are 5.8/6.1 L/100 km (city/highway) for the ES 300h and 11.4/7.7 in the ES 350.
The ES has few competitors from Japanese and European automakers, its comportment being more of a match for traditional American luxury cars from brands like Buick and Cadillac, even while those brands are trying to distance themselves from a reputation for overstuffed upscale cars.
Expect this to be the last year the ES fits that mold, as Lexus itself is following parent company Toyota's lead in breaking out of the boring car box. Rumours are swirling the next-gen ES will be a larger, more stylish car with a more engaging drive that will serve as the brand's single mid-size sedan, also replacing the slow-selling GS.
Both models come in a base trim fitted with 17-inch wheels, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and automatic LED low-beam headlights.
To each car, a Touring package brings niceties like a heated steering wheel with leather and wood trim and power adjustment, navigation, Lexus's remote touch interface infotainment system, in-dash DVD player, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert, power rear window sunshade and LED high beams.
An Executive package brings a 15-speaker sound system, multi-adjustable driver's seat, premium leather upholstery, rear door sunshades, power trunk and LED interior ambient lighting.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed