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2015 Lexus ES

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2015 Lexus ES Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 8.3

The Lexus ES was one of the first Lexus vehicles, and after six generations it's second only to the RX crossover SUV in overall Lexus sales. While not as engaging to drive as a BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 or Cadillac CTS, the Lexus ES has a reputation for reliability, comfort and a strong resale value that continues to resonate. Lest we be accused of damning it with faint praise, we should point out the strong V6, the comfortable yet agile suspension, and the 40 mpg-plus you'll get in the hybrid model. The ES offers sharp styling that may be the most subtle incorporation of the new Lexus grille that we've yet seen, and its user-friendly interior is as comfortable as you could hope for.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2015 Lexus ES sedan holds an appeal to buyers who are looking for a long list of luxury features, coupled with bulletproof reliability. The Lexus ES 300h hybrid model sacrifices only a little bit of trunk space in return for its 40-mpg fuel economy.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you think driving a luxury sedan should be an engaging experience that subconsciously draws you to twisting mountain roads, then the Lexus ES may not be the best choice. A rear-drive sports sedan, such as the Cadillac CTS or BMW 5 Series, makes a better choice.

What's New for 2015

A handful of changes marks the 2015 Lexus ES. Faux-leather NuLuxe seat upholstery is now perforated, with leather and soft semi-aniline leather an option. The Display Audio system gets a standard rearview camera and offers expanded connectivity, including a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.

Driving the ES
Driving Impressions

If a quiet highway ride is the most important thing to you, then the 2015 Lexus ES is your dream car. Few cars match its silent highway ride, something that...

... applies to both the ES 350 and ES 300h hybrid. However, if you floor the accelerator you'll have no problem hearing the growl of the V6 engine. With enough power to accelerate the ES 350 to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds, the ES is surprisingly quick, with ample power for passing or merging. There's even a Sport option on the selectable drive mode that makes transmission shifts more aggressive for better acceleration, something that's even more noticeable in the ES 300h hybrid model, maybe because of the extra torque from the electric-assist motor. The hybrid's electric-to-gasoline transitions are nearly unnoticeable except in Eco mode, when the throttle response feels muted and the powertrain nervous.

HYBRID POWERTRAIN
EPA estimates often fall short of real-world experience, but the 2015 Lexus ES 300h is an exception. Its 40-mpg combined average is easily attainable in day-to-day use, without even trying.

CREATURE COMFORTS
Just because the Lexus ES occupies a lower rung on the ladder doesn't mean it's short on creature comforts. We're particularly fond of such amenities as the heated seats and steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and Mark Levinson audiophile sound system that pumps out 835 watts through 15 speakers.

2015 Lexus ES Details
2015 Lexus ES photo Interior

The 2015 Lexus ES interior boasts upscale materials and the exacting fit and finish we expect in Lexus vehicles. All models offer a centrally mounted screen above the center air vents, operated by the mouse-like Remote Touch system on the center console. The drive mode selector is a knob in front of the shift handle, allowing drivers to switch among Normal, Sport or Eco modes, and with the push of a button, 300h hybrid models can drive a short distance on battery power alone. The seats are comfortable for four adults thanks to a roomy back seat.

Exterior
2015 Lexus ES photo

When the current-generation Lexus ES debuted a couple years ago, we were amazed that the once-conservative sedan had taken on the bold new look of the Lexus "spindle" grille. Two years later though, the ES treatment of the grille is downright subtle compared to the new Lexus IS and RC. Regardless, we like it. The flared fenders and narrow windows give this Lexus a slightly aggressive look, and the lines flow smoothly from nose to tail. We like the twin tailpipes on the ES 350, and the fact that you can upgrade from the standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

While the 2015 Lexus ES may not come standard with leather seats, it still lays on the features pretty thickly. Base models come with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a HomeLink garage-door opener. Newly standard this year is the Lexus Display Audio system, which includes a 3-way-split 7-inch screen, Remote Touch controller, Bluetooth, and rearview camera. Safety wise, the 2015 ES has 10 airbags, a service that offers emergency assistance at the touch of a button, and Lexus' Automatic Collision Notification in the event of an accident.

Optional Equipment

Among features available on the lengthy options list for the 2015 Lexus ES are a navigation system, leather and aniline leather seats that can be heated and ventilated, a panorama glass roof, power rear sunshade, and an awesome Mark Levinson premium sound system. It also offers radar cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, parking assist and blind-spot monitoring.

Under the Hood

With 268 horsepower, the 3.5-liter V6 engine that's standard in the 2015 Lexus ES 350 has plenty of grunt to get this sedan moving quickly. It's connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission that's a model of smooth operation. Even fuel economy is pretty good, but if saving fuel is part of your luxury experience, then the hybrid powertrain in the Lexus ES 300h is just what you need. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine combines with an electric motor to develop a total of 200 horsepower, routing it through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). That's enough power for day-to-day driving, while also offering up fantastic fuel economy. Both Lexus ES models are only available in front-wheel drive, and both run on regular 87-octane gasoline.

3.5-liter V6
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg

2.5-liter inline-4 + hybrid electric motor and nickel-metal hydride battery module
156 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm (gasoline engine alone)
Total system horsepower: 200
156 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm (gasoline engine)
EPA fuel city/highway fuel economy: 40/39 mpg

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