Lexus traveled to the 2021 edition of the Shanghai Auto Show to unveil the updated ES. Scheduled to launch as a 2022 model, the sedan ushers in a long list of handling, comfort, and technology improvements.
Most of the major changes are found in the cabin, where the ES finally receives a touchscreen-based infotainment system. Entry-level models ship with an 8.0-inch screen, while upmarket versions receive a 12.3-inch display. Both are positioned 4.3 inches closer to the front passengers; it was easier to move the screen than to give buyers longer arms. The touchpad-like remote interface located on the center console, next to the gear selector, remains.
Lexus also updated the technology motorists can't see but regularly rely on. The Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 suite of electronic driving aids comes standard across the line-up, and improvements to the camera and the millimeter-wave radar increase the pre-collision system's response range. Intersection Turning Assist, which can detect if the driver is about to turn in front of an oncoming car or a pedestrian, joins the roster of safety systems. Also new are Emergency Steering Assist, Curve Speed Reduction, and a function that automatically increases the car's speed if the driver is about to pass a slower car. Lexus points out it made its Lane Tracing Assist feature smoother, too.
Although the ES has traditionally leaned towards the comfort side of the luxury sedan scale, Lexus made small but meaningful tweaks to improve handling with the help of Toyota president Akio Toyoda, an enthusiast who regularly races a Supra. Engineers fitted a new rear suspension brace to increase torsional rigidity and stability, while the non-hybrid model's brake master cylinder and brake booster were redesigned to provide a more linear feel. Every ES gets a bigger brake pedal, and hybrids benefit from improved pedal feel, according to the company.
Subtle exterior revisions, such as a redesigned grille and new-look headlights, set the 2022 ES apart from the outgoing 2021 model. New paint colors and additional wheel designs round out the list of major exterior updates.
Lexus added a hybrid F Sport model to the portfolio. Called ES 300h F Sport, it gains a mesh grille with a dark frame, a spoiler on the trunk lid, 19-inch wheels, and an array of sporty-looking interior accents.
Motorists who want a bit of go with their show can order the optional Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) available only on the V6-powered ES 350 F Sport. It bundles Sport+ and Custom driving modes, Intuitive Parking Assist, and an Adaptive Variable Suspension system capable of making 650 different levels of adjustment.
There are no major mechanical changes to report, so the ES carries on with a 215-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (ES 250) or a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 302 horses (ES 350). There's also a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain built around a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a pair of electric motors (ES 300h). The V6 and the hybrid models are front-wheel-drive, while the non-electrified four is exclusively offered with all-wheel-drive.
Lexus dealers across the nation will begin receiving the updated 2022 ES in the fall of 2021. Pricing information will be released closer to the sedan's on-sale date. For context, the 2021 ES starts at $41,025 including destination.