Updated 2022 Lexus ES Addresses One of Its Greatest Misses

Competes with: Acura TLX, Cadillac CT5, Infiniti Q50, Toyota Avalon

Looks like: The 2021 ES with some very subtle updates

Powertrains: 203-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder with eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive (ES 250); 302-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 with eight-speed auto, front-wheel drive (ES 350); 215-system-hp, 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and electric motor with continuously variable automatic transmission, FWD (ES 300h)

Hits dealerships: Late fall

We celebrated when Lexus added touchscreen displays to its popular RX line of SUVs, which eliminated the need to use a confusing and easily distracting touchpad controller to operate many of the car’s functions. The brand is continuing its touchscreen evolution by installing them in its updated 2022 ES sedans, while also giving the exterior a very mild touch-up and adding a new F Sport trim level to the ES 300h hybrid.

Related: 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD Review: A Peculiar but Needed Lexus ES

Exterior

When we say “very mild touch-up,” we mean it. The headlights are redesigned bi-LED units that are standard on all ES models, and every ES but the F Sport variants gets a new grille mesh pattern. The wheels, which range from standard 17-inchers to optional 18s or F Sport-exclusive 19s are redesigned, as well. Without a 2021 ES next to a 2022, though, it’ll be tough to tell them apart.

Interior

The addition of a touchscreen is the big news inside the 2022 ES. An 8.0-inch unit will be standard and a 12.3-inch display optional. As in the RX, Lexus has also moved the display location forward — 4.3 inches in the ES — to make it easier to use as a touchscreen. The touchpad controller is still on the center console for those who want to control the screen functions in that manner or for those who can’t reach the touchscreen. Having been in the new RX with the touchscreen, however, I did my best to avoid the touchpad; it’s difficult to use and potentially distracting, and the touchscreen interface is a significant improvement over the touchpad. Lexus says it has also updated the instrument panel design for 2022.

Carryover Power

In contrast to the interior, Lexus hasn’t announced any engine updates for the ES line. The all-wheel-drive ES 250 will use the same 203-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with eight-speed automatic transmission from 2021. The more powerful front-wheel-drive ES 350 has a 302-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood and also uses an eight-speed auto. Hybrid shoppers can choose the ES 300h and its 215 system hp from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and electric motor; instead of an eight-speed, the ES 300h uses a continuously variable automatic transmission.

New for the more enthusiast-oriented hybrid shopper is the ES 300h F Sport that, according to Lexus, will be sold in “Western states” for the 2022 model year. On the ES 300h, however, the F Sport trim is mostly an appearance package: It gets darker, sportier exterior trim pieces and badging, a rear spoiler and black 19-inch wheels on the outside, and an F Sport-specific steering wheel, front seats, pedals, gear selector and gauges.

A Dynamic Handling Package is available on the ES 350 F Sport, adding an adaptive suspension and additional Sport Plus and Custom drive modes; previously, the adaptive suspension with Sport Plus mode was a stand-alone option. The new package also adds Intuitive Parking Assist, which doesn’t seem all that related to sportier driving but is a nice-to-have feature.

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Safety

The 2022 ES comes standard with Lexus Safety Sense Plus 2.5. New in version 2.5 is Intersection Turning Assist, which can detect oncoming traffic when making a left turn or pedestrians during left and right turns and, if necessary, automatically activate the brakes to avoid or mitigate a collision. It also adds Emergency Steering Assist to enhance steering inputs during evasive maneuvers, and Lexus says the adaptive cruise control has improved behavior when passing a slower vehicle.

Pricing and Release Date

Lexus will announce pricing for the updated 2022 ES closer to its on-sale date, which will be sometime later in the fall.

Related Video: 2019 Lexus ES: First Drive

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