This year, the entry-level Lexus sedan now comes with an all-wheel drive option, which is the perfect setup for anyone who lives in the Intermountain region where a sudden snowstorm can become a factor. When we found out the ES was making its way out to Utah, we could only hope for some kind of inclement weather to give it a good test, as the winter so far had not provided much in the way of snow.
Turned out to be our lucky week as the Lexus actually arrived at our home in a pretty good snowstorm — too bad we can’t conjure up a very sunny day when a convertible comes, oh well. This storm was able to lay down a couple of inches on the roadways, giving us the perfect test of the new AWD system.
This new system is computer controlled and able to send up to 50% of all the engine torque to the rear wheels if needed in response to any slippage at any corner of the sedan. The rear drive axel is controlled via an electromagnetic system that automatically engages the wheels in a millisecond, spin or no spin.
Since there was snow on the ground, we were out our first night in the ES checking out this new system and ended up being very impressed with how the car handled. To be sure, when it is slick like it was, we still had to keep it slow and not expect the vehicle to do everything, but it did help immensely. If the car started to slip or slide, we could feel the AWD kick in on different wheels, helping us to stay on the road.
Having attended the Bridgestone Winter Driving School a couple of years ago thanks to Toyota, we have seen how different vehicles react on snow and ice. Even the best can get out of control at very slow speeds and it is up to the driver to understand how to react to keep the vehicle in check.
The new ES, however, did an outstanding job helping us as drivers in some very bad weather, which was a huge boost of confidence for us as we drove around that night. As it was, that night was the last of our snow and it was pretty much gone by noon the next day.
Under the hood, the ES comes with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that put out a very nice 203 horsepower, which proved to give the sedan that little extra push when we needed it. It did take up to 8.5 seconds to get to 60, so not a fast vehicle by any means. We did, however, get a very nice 27.2 miles per gallon on the fuel side, which was just under the 28 estimate by the EPA.
This would give the average person around a 435-mile range on a tank of gas and it would do even better on the freeway, averaging upward of 34 mpg. So if mileage is a concern, this may be the perfect luxury sedan for many folks.
Being a Lexus, the ES is also designed with the utmost luxury in mind, not just the power and other abilities that come in the new sedan. Lexus calls this “Experience Amazing” and we have found that to be very true with any of the line’s vehicles that we have gotten into.
Sitting in any Lexus is surrounding yourself in a world of comfort and design aesthetics that have been completely thought out to make every moment inside the sedan as pleasant as possible. Standard, the ES comes with some really great features that would make anyone as happy as can be, and our test ride came with the most important upgrades we would have asked for.
Also standard on the ES is an 8-inch multimedia display, which is no slouch in its own right. But with the upgraded Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package, (2,900) it becomes a 12.3-inch screen with a 17-speaker concert hall quality sound system. We would definitely add that every time as it was such a joy to have the larger screen to display navigation and audio at the same time. Not to mention how great the sound was.
The seats were, of course, leather-clad and heated and cooled up front with a heated steering wheel, and Lexus has a button for auto heating and cooling of the seats that works with the outside temperature to try to keep the occupants as comfortable as possible.
There also are all kinds of leather and wood accents around the cabin, again adding to that luxurious feel we have come to expect from the Lexus brand.
The ES also includes the Lexus Safety System 2.0 with a pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, all-speed radar cruise control, lane-tracing assist, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam headlamps and road sign alert. These are all great features, with the lane keep assist being our favorite as it kept the ES centered in the lane doing a great job whenever we were out on the open road.
The only safety features lacking were blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and parking assist that were added for $1,065.
The Lexus ES 250 proved to be a great entry-level luxury sedan and more than worthy of a Utah winter with the new all-wheel drive enhancement.
Base price: $39,500
Price as driven: $52,600