Published on August 21st, 2020 | by Subhash Nair0
Lexus ES 250 gets AWD model in USA, Other Model Changes
By now, many Malaysians shopping for a premium luxury sedan will be familiar with the VOTY Award winning Lexus ES 250. That model has a front-wheel drive setup in Malaysia, but in the USA, they’ve just updated it with AWD. It’s not likely we’ll see that update come to Malaysia anytime soon, but at least we know it’s out there and may eventually find its way here.
The Lexus ES 250 AWD gets Dynamic Torque Control. Up to 50% of the 2.5-litre engine’s torque can be sent to the rear wheels. By default, the electromagnetic controlled coupling on the rear drive axle will disengage and revert to front wheel drive to maximise fuel savings. It will instantly reengage when slippage is detected.
For more on the 2021 model year updates for the US-spec Lexus ES, check out the press release below.
The Lexus ES family is expanding this year with two new variations of the signature sedan. The all-new 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD will offer better traction when driving in inclement weather, and the 2021 ES 350 Black Line Special Edition brings a sporty, sleek look with the limited series. Luxury, F SPORT and Ultra Luxury ES grades will be equipped with Standard Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. With the added variety, Lexus guests can choose the ES that fits their lifestyle and climate. The enhanced 2021 ES lineup will begin arriving at dealerships in early fall 2020.
2021 ES 250 AWD
The 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD is the first all-wheel drive model for the ES series bringing with it the increased confidence in inclement weather. From snow to rainy days or even the off-chance gravel road, drivers can be assured the ES AWD will help keep all four tires grounded – meaning more points of contact with the ground with the ability to help maintain traction on the back tires around turns.
Sending torque to all four wheels, the 2.5-liter L4 engine powers through conditions when traction is low to allow better acceleration with less tire slip. The improved traction of the 2021 ES AWD gives the vehicle the ability to accelerate from rest better with 203 horsepower and an estimated fuel rating of 28 combined MPG, better than other gas models in the ES family.
Dynamic Torque Control AWD can provide effective traction for inclement and slippery weather while minimizing AWD’s typical drag on fuel economy. The system can direct up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, in response to acceleration from a start or slippage at the front wheels.
When AWD isn’t needed, the electromagnetic controlled coupling on the rear drive axle can disengage the propeller shaft to help prioritize fuel efficiency. The AWD is designed to re-engage in an instant, when needed, and its operation is transparent to the driver and passengers.
The addition of AWD does not affect legroom, trunk room, ride comfort, cabin quietness or vehicle agility. Inside, the car has the same rear seat hip point height as the FWD ES model for gas and hybrid.
The suspension tuning, wheels, and tires differentiating the ES model grades carry over to the AWD versions. That means, for example, the ES F SPORT grade features the same sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels in both FWD and AWD versions.
2021 ES 350 BLACK LINE SPECIAL EDITION
For 2021, a limited production of the Black Line Special Edition ES 350s will be available. Limited to 1,500 units, the Black Line Special Edition will be based on the F SPORT grade and will be offered in a choice of three exterior colors that include Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, Obsidian and Ultra White, and the F SPORT-only two-tone interior that features white and black coloring with gray stitching. The Black Line ES 350s will also include unique features such as Black outer mirrors, darkened F SPORT wheels and lug nuts, and a new sporty, black rear lip spoiler.
For the 2021 Lexus Black Line Special Edition series, Zero Halliburton® has customized a two-piece set of travel cases exclusively for Lexus. The Edge Lightweight Collection for Lexus builds on the excellence Zero Halliburton is known for with several distinctive features, including a chrome logo badge laser etched with “Zero Halliburton forLexus”, a sumptuous interior lining, a Lexus grille motif and a Lexus embossed leather logo badge. The custom Lexus Black Line Zero Halliburton luggage set includes an Edge Lightweight 22” Continental Carry-on and a 26” Medium Travel Case, both in black. Travel cases will be sent to guests at the address of their choice.
2021 ES RETURNS WITH KEY UPDATES
The 2021 ES rides on the Global Architecture–K (GA-K) platform, which has allowed designers to create an ES design that is beautiful yet also enjoyable to drive. The ES sedan is longer (+2.6 in), lower (-0.2 in) and wider (+1.8 in.) than the prior generation with wheels that have been pushed closer to the corners thanks to a two-inch longer wheelbase and wider tracks front (+0.4 in) and rear (+1.5 in).
The signature grille follows the path set forth by the LC coupe and the LS flagship, yet adds individual cues unique to the ES, like the vertical grille pattern. That theme is repeated at each corner of the bumper to give the ES a wide, planted look that promotes strength and stability.
F SPORT models feature a unique grille that borrows directly from the LS flagship. In place of the standard model’s vertical bars, the F SPORT has a mesh pattern composed of interlocking “L”s with a jet black finish and dark trim. Cut outs at each corner of the front fascia also sport the black finish mesh but have even wider openings than the standard model to further emphasize the firmly anchored stance.
The slim headlamp design of the ES features distinctive L-shaped marker lights. Optional triple beam headlights are available and help refine the look with three compact LED projector units, while the standard design features a single LED projector beam design that retains the signature “L”-shaped marker lights.
The ES is available with a plethora of wheel choices, which includes the standard 17-inch split 10-spoke design with dark silver accents and a machined finish. A similar color scheme is used for the larger 18-inch, 10-spoke wheel available with the Premium package and standard on the Luxury grade. An additional 18-inch split, five-spoke wheel design with a high-gloss finish is standard on Ultra Luxury grade. The F SPORT models are fitted with unique 19-inch wheels, with a dual-spoke design highlighted by a dark premium graphite coating that is also unique to the F SPORT.
A dozen exterior color options are available, including Nightfall Mica, Eminent White Pearl*, Nebula Gray Pearl, Silver Lining Metallic, Atomic Silver, Obsidian, Caviar, Matador Red Mica, Moonbeam Beige Metallic, Sunlit Green, while ES F SPORT offers Ultra Sonic Blue Mica 2.0* and Ultra White*.
The interior options for the ES are also plentiful and vary by grade. Base ES models are available with NuLuxe®-trim options that include Chateau, Black and Flaxen paired with Black, Dark Mocha wood or Espresso wood trim accents. Luxury grades are available with leather-trimmed interior color options Chateau, Black and Flaxen, with interior accents that include Black and Flaxen paired with Black, Dark Mocha wood or Espresso wood trim accents. F SPORT models offer NuLuxe®-trim interior color options that include White, Black and Circuit Red, all of which are paired with Hadori Aluminum trim accents.
The Ultra Luxury grade will offer a new semi-aniline leather-trimmed seat color and wood trim option of Rich Cream paired with Espresso Wood trim. This is added to the options of Chateau with Dark Mocha wood trim, Black with Espresso wood trim, and Flaxen with Espresso wood trim.
DESIGNED FOR DYNAMIC HANDLING
The GA-K chassis is an exceptionally rigid front-wheel drive chassis made from several grades of high-strength steel. From the addition of more than double laser screw welds from the previous generation and laser screw welding, a construction method shared with the LS sedan, makes for a truly robust structure. Additional measures are used to improve front-end stiffness, including a strut tower brace, multiple reinforcement panels for the strut towers themselves, and new radiator support braces.
The suspension is tuned for ideal responsiveness for the chassis. The front suspension features a strut angle that aligns at the ideal angle to improve ride quality, while an increase in caster angle (+2 degrees) and caster trail (+0.3 in) from the previous generation help improve straight-line stability. The Dynamic Control Shocks employed are capable of responding to even the smallest movements thanks to a non-overlapping auxiliary valve that allows damper oil to flow in either direction before entering the main valve.
The rear suspension design utilizes a trailing arm and a multilink setup that also benefits from the responsiveness of the new Dynamic Control Shocks. Higher placement of the trailing arm mounting point and a larger bushing size result in enhanced helping to dampen road irregularities. Wider spacing of the stabilizer bushing mounts can also contribute to overall roll reduction.
A rack-assist type Electric Power Steering (EPS) system is used to deliver a more precise steering feel compared to the previous generation. Unlike the previous ES which used a steering-column-mounted assist motor, the EPS setup mounts the assist motor directly on the steering rack which returns more precise feedback to the steering wheel.
PERFORMANCE MINDED: ES F SPORT
On the F Sport model, an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is offered that replaces the Dynamic Control Shocks with adjustable dampers. Similar to the systems offered on the LC coupe and LS sedan, the AVS system on the ES is capable of 650 levels of adjustment to deliver optimal ride quality and precise control. Adjustments are based on information from sensors that measure both linear and vertical g-loads, vehicle speed, steering angle, yaw rate and master cylinder pressure in addition to information from the engine control computer and skid control computer.
All versions of the ES offer a Drive Mode Select system that allows the driver to tailor the car’s settings to varying road conditions. Models without AVS offer Eco, Normal and Sport modes while AVS-equipped cars replace Sport mode with Sport S while adding Sport S+ and Custom.
In Eco mode, fuel consumption is prioritized by reducing the engine responses to the throttle and suppressing the use of the climate control system. On non AVS cars, Sport mode quickens throttle responses, changes the transmission shift program and alters the steering assist for added control, while AVS-equipped cars only adjust the throttle and transmission settings when in Sport S mode.
For more aggressive driving, Sport S+ mode adjusts the throttle, transmission and steering parameters along with the adaptive dampers. In Custom mode, drivers can choose three engine and transmission programs (Eco, Normal, Sport), two steering and suspension programs (Normal, Sport) and two climate programs (Eco, Normal).
With the addition of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine powering the new ES 250 AWD model to the ES lineup, there are now three different powertrain options when including the returning ES 350 and ES 300h.
All ES 350s are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 (2GR-FKS) that is designed to deliver responsive acceleration along with impressive efficiency. The latest V6 now features the D-4S fuel injection system which uses high-pressure injectors to deliver fuel directly into the combustion chamber along with a low-pressure system that delivers fuel to the intake ports. Together with the addition of Variable Valve Timing-intelligence Wide (VVTi-W) for the intake valves, the engine is capable of operating on either the traditional Otto cycle during sporty driving or the more efficient Atkinson cycle when power demand is low.
The 3.5-liter V6 is rated to produce 302 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 267 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. Manufacturer fuel efficiency estimates come in at 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg in combined driving. To complement the power of the updated V6, an 8-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission is used on all ES 350s.
The ES 300h’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gas engine (A25A-FXS) running on the Atkinson cycle is coupled with a smaller, more power dense electric motor and a hybrid transaxle. The results are a combined 215 total system horsepower and a manufacturer estimated 44 combined mpg. New for 2021, engineers replaced the nickel-metal hybrid battery that powers the electric motor with a lithium ion battery. Next, engineers relocated it from the trunk to underneath the back seat, thanks to a 4.7-inch reduction in the height of the battery and the adoption of a more compact cooling system. Not only does this free up trunk space, but it also improves the front-to-rear weight distribution of the ES for better handling.
The ES 300h features a hybrid control system designed to deliver a more linear acceleration feel by aligning engine speed more closely with vehicle speed to reduce the rubber band feel commonly associated with hybrid systems. Engaging the Sport drive mode further enhances acceleration by boosting torque at lower speeds while paddle shifters can be used to move through six simulated gears for more precise control.
COMFORT COMES FROM WITHIN
Key refinements to the driving position were made to the seventh-generation ES including a more natural steering wheel angle, revised pedal positions and standard 10-way power adjustable front seats. Taking cues from the flagship LS, the wheel is directly borrowed from the flagship and features an ergonomically shaped wheel and optional wood trim and heating elements. Heated seats are also available for the driver and front passenger along with a new suction-type ventilation system that provides improved cooling in hot weather.
The drivers aren’t the only ones receiving attention, however. Rear-seat passenger comfort is still a hallmark of the ES, with headroom that is enhanced compared to the previous generation through the use of a lower hip point and a carefully configured headliner. The ES also can hold its own in the storage space department, literally, as it features 13.9 cubic feet of trunk space along with additional underfloor side pockets for smaller items. The hybrid model also offers the same cargo dimensions since the battery pack is located underneath the rear seat. An optional hands-free trunk opener makes loading cargo an easy task.
MULTIMEDIA MADE FOR THE MASSES
To make multimedia connectivity seamless for Lexus owners, all 2021 ES models feature Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility. ES is also Amazon Alexa compatible, so drivers with an iPhone® and Android® devices can use natural language commands to control a variety of functions such as car-to-home and home-to-car commands, providing owners with Alexa-enabled devices in their home the ability to interact with their ES before they ever get behind the wheel.
The Lexus multimedia system sits high on the ES dashboard and measures 8 inches wide on standard models and 12.3 inches wide with the available Navigation package, the Electro Multi Vision (EMV) display features crisp, easy-to-read graphics and a revised menu system. The optional navigation system blends on-board information with cloud-based data for the most accurate directions possible.
Much like the multimedia screen, the goal for the ES interior is to place all of the main information displays within the driver’s line of sight and this includes the LCD instrument panel that features a large analog tachometer, digital speedometer and easy-to-read multi-information display. Standard models employ a 7-inch screen while the F-SPORT display measures 8-inches and features a movable center ring similar to the one used in the LC. Hit a button on the steering wheel, and the ring slides over to open up more space for the multi-information display on the left side of the screen.
A 10-speaker Pioneer® audio system comes standard on all models, while a 17-speaker Mark Levinson® system is available. Along with 1,800 watts of power, the Mark Levinson system also brings Clari-Fi® technology to the cabin that helps boost the sound quality of low fidelity digital audio sources.
On board Wi-Fi powered by AT&T is included with a trial of 4GB trial or three months, whichever comes first. The Lexus Enform Safety Connect trial is offered for the first 3 years of ownership with access to Lexus Enform response centers 24/7/365. With the Lexus Enform Service Connect trial — also now provided for the first 10 years of ownership — the ES can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance, simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus retailer if opted in. The MyLexusandBeyond mobile app (for iOS devices) or LexusDrivers.com website can be used to set push-reminders and alerts for maintenance and service issues.
Lexus Enform Remote comes with a three-year trial, offering guests the ability to remotely view and control certain aspects of the ES using a mobile app for iOS and Android® devices. Functions include remote door lock/unlock; remote start/stop for the engine and climate control; vehicle finder, guest driver monitor and more. The Navigation package includes the Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation with a three-year trial and complimentary Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0.
SAFETY FEATURES ADDED FOR 2021
For 2021, one key addition headlines the safety features on the seventh-generation ES, with Luxury, F SPORT and Ultra Luxury now featuring standard Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Available on all ES models for 2021 is Lexus Enform Safety Connect (10-year trial included), Enform Remote (3-year trial), Lexus Enform Wi-Fi (4GB/3-month trial), Lexus Enform Service Connect (10-year trial).
All grades of the 2021 ES feature Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 as standard equipment. The Pre-Collision System (PCS) included with LSS+ 2.0 employs both a millimeter wave radar and a monocular camera sensor system designed to detect a preceding vehicle, a bicyclist in daytime situations as well as a preceding vehicle and a pedestrian in both daylight and low-light situations.
The Lane Departure Alert (LDA) system remains an integral part of LSS+ 2.0. It’s designed to alert the driver when it senses that the vehicle is deviating from its lane with audible and visual alerts, as well as steering wheel vibration. It’s also capable of providing a certain amount of steering assist to help keep the car from deviating from its marked lane.
The Lane Departure Alert with Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) comes standard and is designed to detect lane markings to determine lane position and place the vehicle in the center of the lane when working in conjunction with the All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. If road markings are not detected, LTA is also capable, in certain conditions, of following the car ahead of it. Road Sign Assist (RSA) is included as well and is designed to read certain road signs and display them on the multi-informational display.