Home Lexus Lexus ES 250 performance and luxury for reasonable money in 2021

Lexus ES 250 performance and luxury for reasonable money in 2021


2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD Ultra Lux in Eminent Pearl White 

The 2021 ES 250 from Lexus adds more capability and luxury to their competitively priced entry in the mid-size premium sedan market.

Starting at just over $40,000 for a Lexus quality sedan with a decent power plant and responsive 8-speed automatic transmission – Lexus has now included their Dynamic Torque AWD standard on the ES 250 for 2021. 

With more features and premium amenities available in the top-of-the-line Ultra Lux, the 2021 ES 250 AWD, offers a very nice drive and ride for discriminating mid-size premium sedan buyers

During the week of the ‘snow/ice-megeddon’ in Austin just recently, we got a chance to check the new ES 250 AWD out.  Effectively snowed in for a week, we kept our test ES 250 AWD for two weeks allowing us to drive the new AWD in a varying set of conditions.

Short version – the new 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD Ultra Lux makes the grade.

ES 250 AWD Ultra Lux

As we noted, Lexus sent us the ES 250 AWD Ultra Lux top-of-the line trim fitted with a nice assortment of premium features. 

Premium touches include a One-Touch Open/Close Power Moonroof, Rain Sensing Wipers, Wood interior Trim w/Ambient Lighting, Power 14-way Driver and 10-way Passenger Semi-Aniline Leather seating, Heated and Ventilated front seats, Hands-Free Power Open/Close Trunk, Power Rear Window Sunshade and Manual Rear Door Sunshades.

Other features include Bi-LED Headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lamps, Power Folding Side Mirrors w/Turn Signals and Puddle Lamps, Panoramic View Monitor, Blindspot Monitor w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist w/Auto Braking and Rear Pedestrian Detection. 


During the ‘snow/ice-megeddon’ we were able to test the Windshield Wiper De-icer and Fast Response interior heater following an overnight 6-plus inches of snow here at Lake Travis.

Brushing enough off to get the doors open and start it up, we went back in for another cup of coffee, figuring we still had some snow and ice clearing to do before taking off on some errands.  To our surprise few moments later, we found the windows completely clear including the side windows.

Furthermore, the snow on the hood, roof and rear deck lid was melting off.  A quick flick of the snow brush and we were ready to roll. 

All of the above, including the Windshield Wiper De-icer and Fast Response interior heater were included in the trim level base price of $48,900.

Options and Packages

Our Lexus ES 250 AWD Ultra Lux included pretty much all of the available extras.  Starting with the Eminent White Pearl Exterior paint, they included the 10.2-inch Head Up Digital Display, Wireless Smartphone Charger, Triple Beam LED Headlamps, Rear Spoiler, Illuminated Door Sills, Carpeted Trunk Mat and Wheel Locks.

And still more – one of our Lexus favorites – the Mark Levinson Audio Package – replaced the Lexus 10-speaker audio system.  The Mark Levenson adds or upgrades features like the a 12.3-inch Color Multimedia Display, Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation with Dynamic Voice Command and Lexus Enform Destination Assist. 

Powering the Mark Levinson to the ‘max’ is the awesome 1,800-Watt, PurePlay 17-speaker Premium Surround Sound Audio System.

For just another $4,400 – some really good stuff makes a great sedan even better.

With delivery and prep, our 2021 Lexus ES 250 Ultra Lux AWD was in the garage for $54,325

Power Train

All Lexus ES 250 AWD trim levels are powered by an in-line 2.5L 4-cylinder DOHC engine delivering 203 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque mated to an 8-speed Automatic Transmission w/Steering Wheel Mounted Paddle Shifters.

The Lexus Dynamic Torque AWD enhances performance automatically.  Sensors allocate power delivery up to 50-percent front to rear – monitoring a combination of speed, road conditions and driver response continuously to adjust for optimum handling and control.

Not overwhelmingly powerful, the ES 250 AWD will do 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds and top out at 132 mph.

Still though, with the Drive Mode Select features (ECO, Normal and Sport mode settings), the ES 250 AWD is well peppy enough for most.  Particularly in the Sport mode.  

The ride in ES is comfortable yet nicely nimble for a mid-size sedan with its independent suspension featuring MacPherson Struts front and Trailing Wishbone rear, Electronic Power Steering and 4-channel Anti-lock Disc Brakes.


The cabin is comfortable and well-appointed. Headroom is maybe a bit short for the taller driver, but the 14-way adjustment on the driver seat and the lower hip point in the rear seating mitigates that nicely. For the bigger driver or rear passenger, we found the leg, hip and shoulder room to be very adequate.

The layout of the cockpit was functionally elegant in our opinion.  Rich looking with premium treatments and accents, it was equipped with easy to reach controls and very readable displays. 

Of note is the 10.2-inch Head-Up Display which was so easy to read, we paid little attention to the instrumentation in the dash.

And yes, ES still uses the Remote Touch Interface Controller on the console.  Differing with some of our peers, we have found it is pretty intuitive and easy to learn.  Once mastered, (sort of like learning to type a keyboard without looking), you can handle it easily.


Technology and infotainment features include Smart Access w/Push-Button Start Stop, Bluetooth Hands-Free phone and Streaming Audio, CD Player, HD Radio and Sirius XM Radio.

Additionally, ES 250 AWD offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Lexus Enform 4GB Wi-Fi and Lexus Enform Remote compatibility w/SmartPhone and SmartWatch devices – enabled with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. 

Other features through Lexus Enform include Lexus Enform Service Connect and Lexus Enform Safety Connect and more.


All Lexus ES models come with Lexus Safety System + 2.0. It includes Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision w/Pedestrian Detection, Lane Tracking, Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam Headlamps and Road Sign Assist.

Lexus ES – Lots of Choices

Lexus ES- series sedans offer a model or trim level for everyone in the mid-size market. Buyers can choose from the ES 250 2.5L 4-cylinder, ES 350 3.5L V6 and ES 300 Hybrid.

The ES 250 is AWD only and all ES sedans feature an F Sport trim level if you want a bit more ‘pop’.

Learn more about the 2021 Lexus ES-series sedans HERE.

KEY DATA (2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD)

  • Model:                         ES 250 AWD
  • Trim:                            Ultra Lux
  • Class:                          SUV       
  • Segment:                    Mid-Size Sedan 
  • Seating:                       Five       
  • MSRP:                         $48,900
  • As Tested:                   $54,325 (w/options and delivery)                            
  • Powertrain                 2.5L DOHC Gas 4-cylinder                                                                                               
  • Horsepower:              203 @6,500 rpm             
  • Torque:                       184 lb.-ft @4,000-5000 rpm       
  • Transmission:             8-speed Direct Shift w/Paddle Shifters
  • Drive Modes:             ECO, Normal, Sport
  • Drive System:            All-Wheel Drive – Dynamic Torque Controlled
  • Performance:             0-60 mph 8.6-seconds
  • Top Speed:                 131 mph
  • Suspension:                Front: Independent MacPherson Strut
  •                                       Rear: Independent Trailing Wishbone
  • Wheel size                  18-inch  Split 5-Spoke Alloy
  • Fuel Economy:          25/34 mpg City/Highway   28 mpg Combined      
  • Fuel Tank:                   15.9 Gallons
  • Range:                         450 miles
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