Test Drive: 2021 ES 250 delivers quality luxury conveyance

There’s a huge difference between luxury sedans of the 21st  century like the 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD F Sport and the plush-mobiles of the mid 20th century.

Test Drive: 2021 ES 250 delivers quality luxury conveyance

By Frank A. Aukofer

Back in that day, they were all about duking it out in the marketplace with brocade upholstered interiors, mushy suspension systems that were all about soaking up road bumps — and forget about responsive steering or hustling around curves.

You could power steer with one little finger as your mighty 6.5-liter  V8 engine sent massive power through a three-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Set the cruise control on 80, lean back and enjoy the ride. Without a potty stop you should be able to dance across Texas in less than 10 hours — assuming  good weather.

Though Carroll Shelby, the famed race car builder and driver, was talking about muscle cars of the era, his oft-quoted comment applied as well to what were sometimes derisively called luxo-barges: Chrysler Imperial, Lincoln Continental and Cadillac de Ville. “Great motors; couldn’t turn, couldn’t stop,” Shelby opined.https://3b297157093a1fb7761baac9c799a629.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Of course, other automakers had different ideas. Europeans like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volvo embedded performance characteristics into their luxury machinery. Some, like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, even went farther and built exotic super cars. They were mostly two-seaters conceived for racing.

Many are still around, including older classics that sell for mind-bending money at auctions. There also are some of the old Sedan de Villes and Imperials attracting big bucks. But for the most part over the years, the old luxury ingredients became less important. Now if you buy a luxury car, domestic or international, it comes with its own built-in performance chops. R.I.P. mush-mobiles.

The 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD F Sport is a prime example of the modern genre. Lexus is the luxury brand of Toyota, and the ES is a midsize sedan that is a counterpart to Toyota’s Camry and Avalon — except, of course, that it costs more money because of its upscale orientation.

The tested ES 250 AWD F Sport, which had a starting price of $46,728 and a tested sticker of $52,580, is a new concept for Lexus: It’s not as powerful as some of its siblings but comes standard with all-wheel drive, hence the AWD moniker. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 203 horsepower with 184 pound-feet of torque. Power travels to the pavement via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The same setup motivates the all-wheel drive Toyota Avalon and Camry.

The 250 is not the quickest Lexus ES. If you want more spirit and polish, there’s an ES 350 version with a V6 engine that delivers 302 horsepower, also through an eight-speed automatic transmission. But you must give up the all-wheel drive; the ES 350 comes only with front-drive. There’s also a hybrid with a 2.5-liter gasoline engine that delivers outstanding city/highway/combined fuel economy of 43/44/44 miles to the gallon on regular gasoline.

But the tested ES 250 AWD F Sport is no slouch. Its numbers are 25/34/28 miles to the gallon and, of course, it is a more responsive performer than the hybrid with the added foul weather advantage of all-wheel drive.

On the road, the tester was a comfortable and easy-going performer. Though the engine, under hard acceleration, delivered an amiable growl, for the most part cruising was affable and quiet.

The interior was notable for high quality materials and good workmanship. The black leather upholstery was perforated for heating and cooling, and the front seats were shaped to cosset the driver and passenger tightly in rapid driving on curving roads.Your stories live here .Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.

There are three drive modes that adjust shift points and other parameters for different circumstances: Eco, normal and sport. A big center screen sits high on the dash at eye level and incorporates, among other things, an analog clock — a nice touch. The tested ES came with a high-zoot Mark Levinson audio system.

Out back, there’s a surprising amount of head, knee and stretch-out space for two. Unfortunately, the poor soul relegated to the center-rear position must contend with a high, hard perch and the need to dodge a big floor hump and intrusion of the center console.

The trunk houses a temporary spare wheel and tire. It is well appointed with carpeting and tie-downs. However, the big C-hinges are not isolated and could damage the contents.

Though somewhat expensive, this Lexus delivers a quality luxury conveyance with sport sedan manners, especially for people who live in  foul weather areas.

Originally published at The providence journal