The 2021 Lexus ES remains one of the most reliable and comfortable luxury cars on the road. But for the 2021 model year, Lexus is now offering the ES with a proper all-wheel drivetrain (AWD). This helps the ES to keep up with new luxury models including the Genesis G80 and Cadillac CT5 – both of which are also available with AWD.
But there’s a catch. Choosing AWD means you’ll have to be content with a less powerful engine, specifically a 2.5-liter four-banger producing up to 203 horsepower. This is the first all-wheel-drive model for the Lexus ES. Affectionately called the ES 250 AWD, it achieves 28 mpg combined with the help of its innovative all-wheel drivetrain.
In normal driving, Dynamic Torque Control AWD can disengage the rear axle to improve fuel economy. As the system detects slip, it re-engages the rear axle and can send up to 50-percent of torque to the rear wheels to improve traction. According to Lexus, the all-wheel drivetrain does not affect ride comfort, cabin silence, legroom, or trunk room in the 2021 ES.
All told, the 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD is more fuel-efficient than a standard Lexus ES350 with front-wheel drive and a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine. Even though the ES350 has 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque to play with, it only achieves 26 mpg in the combined cycle. Still, the ES 300h with its 44 mpg combined rating is a better choice if you want a fuel miser, although the hybrid is front-wheel-drive only.
There’s more good news. You can have an ES 250 AWD F Sport model complete with 19-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension. Lexus is also releasing 1,500 units of the 2021 ES 350 Black Line Special Edition based on the F Sport trim. The Black Line trim is available in three paint colors (Ultra White, Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, and Obsidian) and features a two-tone interior with gray stitching. Of course, the ES Black Line has black mirror caps, black alloy wheels, and a black lip spoiler.
The 2021 Lexus ES arrives at dealerships in early fall, and this includes the new ES 250 AWD. Base prices start at around $41,000 for the ES 350 V6 and ES 250 AWD, while the Black Line trim starts at $47,600. The Es 300h hybrid has a base MSRP of around $43,000.