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Kelley Blue Book: The 2022 Lexus ES hybrid is luxurious, spacious, quiet and delivers superb value

Pros

High quality at relatively reasonable prices

Spacious cabin

Strong resale values

Serene driving experience

Many standard driver assistance features

Cons

Base engine lacks power

Rear seats don’t fold

What’s new?

Minor styling tweaks inside & out

Upgrades to driver assistance features

Improvements to the infotainment system

New ES 300h F Sport version

F Sport models now offer a Dynamic Handling Package

Price: The 2022 Lexus ES starts at around $41,875.

The 2022 Lexus ES premium midsize sedan is a winner on many levels. Undeniably luxurious, it enjoys superb build quality and comes with many standard features, yet the ES is the most affordable car in its class. It also turns on its head the accepted notion that luxury cars lose their value quickly.

This seventh generation of ES has been around since the 2019 model year. It immediately won KBB’s best midsize luxury sedan award. It did the same in 2020 and 2021.

Many buyers aren’t going to care that rear-wheel drive isn’t available. Instead, they will love the quiet cabin, comfortable ride, generous passenger space, and reassuring reliability. The 2022 ES range does offer all-wheel drive (albeit with the smallest engine) and a hybrid variant.

The 2022 Lexus ES hybrid

Lexus

2022 Lexus ES pricing

The 2022 ES 250 AWD luxury sedan starts at $41,875, plus a destination charge. Also starting at $41,875, the ES 350 offers a lot more power, but front-wheel drive only. Also front-drive, the hybrid ES 300h starts at $42,975.

F Sport models cost $46,525.

Even the Genesis G80 is more expensive, from around $49K. The BMW 5 Series
BMW,
+0.48%

 starts at just over $54K, the Audi A6 is another $2,000 or so on top of that, with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan in the same ballpark.

Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area paid for their new Lexus ES. Like virtually every other Lexus, the ES has best-in-class resale values.

Also see: The BMW X7: A handsomely designed SUV that makes a statement

Driving the 2022 Lexus ES

As an oasis of calm, insulating occupants from the noisy outside world and its badly maintained roads, the 2022 ES luxury sedan excels. It’s smooth, quiet, comfortable, and asks little more of the driver than minimum effort.

As an enjoyable, involving fun machine with great power and pin-sharp handling… well, check out the BMW 5 Series, because the ES doesn’t cover that kind of ground.

With this in mind, the F Sport versions — which don’t add any more muscle — seem contrary to the general Lexus way of doing things. Fitting a sport suspension and sport seats to a car that doesn’t really have a sporting character brings to mind the whole square peg/round hole thing.

The engine in the all-wheel-drive ES 250 produces 203 horsepower. “Modest” would be a kind description. We think luxury cars should have greater authority in their power output.

Those who agree will prefer the highly refined 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 in the front-wheel-drive ES 350. It’s a shame that Lexus doesn’t offer all-wheel drive with this engine, but it goes well with the rest of the car.

Alternatively, low-emissions luxury comes in the form of the ES 300h. Lexus and parent company Toyota
TM,
+1.23%

have this hybrid stuff mastered. Even the brakes feel normal, which isn’t always the case when there are systems capturing their energy.

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Interior comfort

The biggest and most welcome change inside the 2022 ES sedan is the infotainment system. Previous iterations have not been particularly user-friendly, and Lexus has taken notice.

Not only is the display a touchscreen (though still accompanied by the unloved Remote Touch Interface), but it’s also been relocated 4.3 inches closer to the driver, making it much more sensible from an ergonomic point of view. Screen sizes remain the same — the standard version measures 8 inches diagonally and the upgraded alternative is 12.3 inches.

Lexus has also redesigned the instrument panel to be more streamlined. Otherwise, the ES has the same spacious and classy cabin as always. For extra drama, the aluminum accents that come with the F Sport cars hint at ancient Japanese swords.

Rear legroom is generous at 39.2 inches and rear headroom is also useful. The seatbacks are angled just right to accommodate adults yet still have a sloping roofline.

One issue with those seats, though, is the fact that they’re fixed in place and don’t fold. So ES owners can’t transport anything that doesn’t fit into the trunk. Which, admittedly, is quite large at 16.7 cubic feet — regardless of drivetrain.

See: The 2022 Genesis G80 and the BMW 5 Series—two luxury sedans compared

Exterior styling

It remains the same considerable size, but 2022 ES sedan’s grille has a new mesh design with a graphite finish. On either side are redesigned self-leveling bi-LED headlights. There are also new wheel designs; F Sport models gain specific 19-inch black-finished versions.

Changes in the paint department see the arrival of Iridium (silver) and Cloudburst Gray, and the departure of Silver Lining, Atomic Silver and Nebula Gray.

Favorite features

ES 300H
Lexus doesn’t quote torque figures for its hybrids, but the ES 300h sedan has decent thrust thanks to the addition of its electric motor. Yet here is a well-appointed and roomy luxury midsize sedan with average fuel economy of about 44 mpg. And because the drivetrain’s battery is under the rear seats, there’s no compromise on trunk space.

Inner thoughts
A Lexus cabin is typically a tranquil place, especially in the larger sedans. Experiencing the way it’s all been put together and the quality of materials is a special feeling owners can have day in, day out.

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Standard features

The 2022 ES 250 luxury sedan comes with LED exterior lighting, 17-inch alloy wheels, powered moonroof, keyless entry/ignition, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, perforated simulated leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, selectable driving modes, and all-wheel drive.

Safety features include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-tracing assistance, lane-departure alert with steering assistance, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.

The updated-for-2022 infotainment system has an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple
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+2.37%

CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, Amazon
AMZN,
+2.93%

Alexa compatibility, Wi-Fi, three USB ports, and a 10-speaker audio setup.

Factory options

Think of the ES 250’s Premium package as a building block for the standard equipment in the higher trims. It adds rain-sensing wipers, power-adjustable steering column, and heated/ventilated front seats with memory settings.

The F Sport treatment brings a dedicated suspension setup and sportier front seats for greater lateral support through the corners.

Other extras include a 12.3-inch touchscreen, navigation, 17-speaker/1,800-watt Mark Levinson surround-sound system, head-up display, wireless charging, ambient cabin lighting, wood/leather steering wheel (with or without heating), powered rear sunshade, gesture-controlled trunk lid, larger alloy wheels, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and front/rear parking sensors with automatic braking.

At the Luxury level comes 14-way power-adjustable front seats (with an extendible lower cushion for the driver), perforated real leather upholstery, and blind-spot monitoring. The Ultra Luxury versions have a more sophisticated suspension system, perforated semi-aniline leather, and most of the optional features mentioned above. However, triple-beam LED headlights, wireless charging, head-up display, and the Mark Levinson system remain optional across the entire 2022 ES lineup.

The new Dynamic Handling package for F Sport variants includes an adaptive suspension, front/rear parking sensors, and Sport+ and Custom driving modes.

Also see: The 5 best —and affordable —places to live in California

Engine and transmission

Every version of the ES 250 sedan has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 203 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard with this unit, along with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

For reasons best known to Lexus, every 2022 ES 350 has front-wheel drive exclusively. They’re propelled by a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and deploy the same 8-speed self-shifter.

The ES 300h hybrid sedan pairs a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor running off a nickel metal hydride battery. Together, they make 215 horsepower, which drives the front wheels through an automatic transmission (a continuously variable transmission, or CVT).

Regular gasoline is fine for any of these drivetrains.

2.5-liter inline-4 (ES 250 AWD)
203 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg

3.5-liter V6 (ES 350)
302 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (ES 350), 22/31 mpg (F Sport)

2.5-liter inline-4 + permanent magnet electric motor (ES 300h)
176 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm (gasoline engine only)
Total system horsepower: 215
163 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600-5,200 rpm (gasoline engine only)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 43/44 mpg

This story originally ran on KBB.com

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