2021 Lexus ES is now available with AWD, but there's a catch

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.