Lexus last overhauled their volume-selling ES sedan for the 2019 model year. With the two-year mark approaching for the current generation and the aging GS sedan’s demise this month, it’s an appropriate time for the 2021 Lexus ES to get a revamp and repositioning to take on its most direct rivals like the Acura TLX, Audi A6 and Genesis G80, among others. For this model year, the company is giving its midsize standard-bearer a new feature: all-wheel drive.
Like the Toyota Camry, the 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD model will offer a similar all-weather solution in the company’s luxury space. The all-wheel drive ES mates up to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 203 horsepower. As it stands, this is the only way to get power to each corner of the ES, as the V6-powered ES 350 and the ES 300h hybrid remain front-wheel drive only. Those other two powertrains, with a 3.5-liter 302 horsepower engine and a 215 horsepower, 2.5-liter hybrid system respectively, carry over mostly unchanged. The ES 300h does change over from a nickel-metal hydride battery to a lithium-ion unit that’s been relocated beneath the rear seat.
Black Line Special Edition
Also new for the 2021 Lexus ES is the ‘Black Line Special Edition’, which builds on the ES 350 F Sport. Production is limited to just 1,500 units, and comes in colors like Ultasonic Blue Mica 2.0 and Ultra White (shown above), as well as Obsidian. The Black Line is an appearance package with exterior touches including blacked out badging, wheels, outer mirror caps and a black rear lip spoiler. Inside, you get an F Sport-based white and black two-tone interior with gray stitching.
For those who opt into this special edition, Zero Halliburton has also crafted a two-piece travel case set to go with the car. The set includes a 22-inch continental carry-on and a 26-inch medium travel case, both finished in black. When owners buy their ES Black Line Special Edition, the cases will be shipped to whatever address they choose.
Other changes to the 2021 Lexus ES lineup
Changes across the rest of the range are fairly minor. The ES still rides on Toyota’s Global Architecture (GA-K) platform that makes it lower, longer and wider than the previous generation.
All 2021 models get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, as well as Amazon Alexa built in. An 8-inch infotainment screen comes standard on the ES, while a 12.3-inch system is available on higher-end trims. All models get Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, while Luxury, F Sport and Ultra Luxury models get standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Pricing for the 2021 Lexus ES starts at $39,900 (before destination) — same as the current 2020 model. However, moving up the 2021 price list is the same for either the ES 250 AWD or the front-wheel drive ES 350. The Luxury trim of either model starts at $45,100; the F Sport kicks off at $45,700; and the Ultra Luxury starts at $48,900. That does mean the higher end of Lexus’ ES range takes on a substantial price hike over the 2020 model.
The FWD-exclusive Black Line Special Edition starts at $46,550 for the 1,500 who pull the trigger early enough. The 2021 Lexus ES 300h again starts at the same $41,810 base price, but the Luxury is now $47,010 and the Ultra Luxury is $50,810.