New 2020 Lexus ES Sedan
Lexus ES Sedan
The 2020 Lexus ES lineup of midsize-luxury sedans keeps the quiet and comfortable approach while adding a little more driver engagement.
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2020 Lexus ES KBB Expert Review
#1 in Best Midsize Luxury Cars of 2020
The 2020 Lexus ES luxury-midsize sedan does the usual Lexus thing. That means superb build quality, tranquil traveling, great resale values, lots of standard equipment, and so on. Yet it also adds another element.
After years of being the soft, spacious and somewhat anonymous one, the current ES (whose newest generation launched for the 2019 model year) wears a bolder look and packs on a little more muscle. The implication is that while this new ES can still be roomy and relaxed, there’s some extra involvement lurking, to be accessed whenever a driver wants. Which is exactly what’s happening.
Buyers may choose from a regular gasoline V6-powered ES 350 (with an F Sport variant for even greater engagement), or the hybrid ES 300h. Parent company Toyota has been in the hybrid business for so many years now that there are no qualms about reliability.
The 2020 ES is also kind of a bargain. This much space and equipment in a German car would cost a lot more.
You'll Like This Car If...
- Another solidly reliable Lexus sedan
- Hybrid version mixes abundant power with 44 mpg
- Assertive looks & sharper dynamics in a car that used to have neither
You May Not Like This Car If...
- Lexus design philosophy continues to be an acquired taste
- F Sport version not really sporty enough
- Infotainment-system touch pad not intuitive to use
What's New for 2020
- No major changes over the 2019 version
A 302-horsepower V6 propels the 2020 ES 350 and its F Sport variant with a refined eagerness. Progress can be respectably swift, but not to the detriment of comfort. The 8-speed automatic transmission is subtle in its shifting duties, while scrolling between the drive modes brings differences in feel.
The F Sport’s adaptive suspension and sportier driving modes ramp up the interest levels even more. But since there’s no hike in power, it could never be an alternative to a BMW M car or a Mercedes-AMG. Lexus just doesn’t have those performance credentials.
The smarter option could be to go the other way and consider the ES 300h hybrid. There’s sufficient power to make the ES 300h a pleasure rather than a chore. Acceleration is quick enough for most people. Achieving 44 mpg is also pretty impressive. It’s easy to see great fuel economy while driving normally.
The brakes don’t suffer from the weird feel that used to plague regenerative hybrid-car brakes. And, in common with its ES stablemates, the cabin is suitably serene.
RELATED: Best Midsize Luxury Cars of 2020
Quiet and comfortable, the 2020 ES 300h can pamper as much as the ES 350, but with the added benefit of fuel economy that’s almost as good as the frugal Toyota Prius C and Kia Niro. An extra bonus is that the battery pack is below the rear seats, so trunk space is the same as the non-hybrid ES 350.
The spacious interior of the 2020 ES is available with luxurious features like heated/ventilated/10-way power-adjustable front seats, rear sunshades and a panoramic sunroof. A high-resolution 12.3-inch infotainment display and wireless charging are also optional.
One good reason for buying the 2020 ES is the great expanse of passenger space, especially in the back. There’s 39.2 inches of rear legroom. For context, the Genesis G80 has 35 inches. Nor is rear headroom compromised by the raked roofline, thanks to finely angled seatbacks.
This roomy cabin is filled with high-quality materials and the tasteful color schemes for which Lexus is renowned. The F Sport also comes with aluminum accents inspired by ancient Japanese swords.
Plenty of luxury features are available, including a 12.3-inch infotainment display that’s the dashboard’s visual centerpiece. However, the system’s touch pad can be tricky to operate, not the ergonomic slam-dunk a luxury car should have. At least Lexus offers Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, which is simple to use.
Trunk space is a capacious 16.7 cubic feet.
The fashion these days is for sedans to have a fastback roofline, much like a typical coupe. The 2020 ES follows that trend while placing the wheels as far into the corners as possible, then adding LED exterior lighting and (for better or worse) the usual Lexus grille.
The F Sport version has a rear spoiler, 19-inch alloy wheels and black accents. The other ES models roll on either 17-inch (standard) or 18-inch alloy wheels.
Notable Standard Equipment
Unusually for Lexus, the 2020 ES actually comes in distinct trim levels. The base version is still well stocked, though. As well as the Lexus Safety System Plus (see the Safety section below), there are 17-inch alloy wheels, power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, selectable driving modes, 10 airbags, keyless entry/ignition, three USB ports, 8-inch infotainment display, and a 10-speaker audio system.
Notable Optional Equipment
A Premium package for the base 2020 ES adds rain-sensing wipers, heated/ventilated front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, and a power-adjustable steering column.
Those features are standard in the Luxury trim, which adds real leather upholstery, ambient cabin lighting and sound-insulating side windows. Ultra Luxury raises the game with nicer leather, adaptive dampers, sunshades and a hands-free trunk release.
The F Sport variant also has an adaptive suspension, plus a rear spoiler, sport front seats, dedicated gauges and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Other options (depending on trim) include blind-spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay, front/rear parking sensors, 12.3-inch infotainment display, navigation, heated steering wheel/side mirrors, head-up display, wireless charging, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
Under the Hood
There are two “flavors” of the 2020 ES, a conventional gasoline drivetrain in the ES 350 or a hybrid version in the ES 300h. The ES 350 has a refined 3.5-liter V6 that would impress Swiss watchmakers, linked to a similarly sophisticated 8-speed automatic transmission.
The F Sport variant doesn’t bring any extra power, but adds different drive modes — including Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom — which have an impact on fuel consumption.
The hybrid ES 300h deploys a 4-cylinder gasoline engine, an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It puts the battery pack under the rear seats, allowing trunk space to be the same as the ES 350. Combined fuel economy for the ES 300h (city and highway together) is 44 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 + hybrid electric motor and nickel-metal hydride battery (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
Add the $1,025 destination charge to the base 2020 ES 350 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $39,900 and it comes to $40,925. Luxury trim is $43,780, Ultra Luxury is priced from $44,775 and the 2020 ES 350 F Sport is $45,660.
German midsize-sedan contenders are too expensive for fair comparison, especially when equipped up to Lexus levels. Interested buyers would have to check out cars like the compact Mercedes-Benz C-Class instead. However, the Acura TLX is a more direct competitor, along with the Genesis G80.
For those looking at the hybrid ES, the 2020 ES 300h starts at $42,785, the Luxury version is $45,640, while the Ultra Luxury is $46,635.
Before buying, check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new ES. Lexus has a stellar reputation for strong resale values and the ES shouldn’t flip the script.
RELATED: Best Midsize Luxury Cars of 2020
Lexus ES Consumer Reviews
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2020 Lexus ES Specs
2020 Lexus ES Safety Ratings
How does it compare?
|#1||2020 Dodge Charger||485|
|#2||2020 Kia Stinger||365|
|#3||2020 Lexus ES||302|
|#4||2020 INFINITI Q50||300|
|#5||2020 Acura TLX||290|
|#1||2020 Tesla Model 3||141|
|#2||2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid||43|
|#3||2020 BMW 3 Series||30|
|#4||2020 Acura TLX||26|
|#5||2020 Lexus ES||26|
|#1||2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid||5 / 5|
|#2||2020 BMW 3 Series||4.9 / 5|
|#3||2020 Dodge Charger||4.8 / 5|
|#4||2020 Audi A3||4.7 / 5|
|#11||2020 Lexus ES||3.5 / 5|
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