The Lexus ES enters the 2021 model year in the US, and there are two new variants of the sedan. The 2021 Lexus ES 250 AWD introduces all-wheel-drive to the series for the first time, while the 2021 Lexus ES 350 Black Line Special Edition brings a sporty but sleek look.

Luxury, F Sport and Ultra Luxury ES grades will now be equipped with standard Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The enhanced 2021 ES lineup will begin arriving at American dealerships in early fall 2020.

The ES 250 AWD is the first AWD model for the ES series, which has traditionally been front-wheel-drive, and not RWD like its IS, GS and LS siblings. AWD gives the ES “increased confidence in inclement weather, from snow to rainy days or even the off-chance gravel road,” Lexus says.

The ES 250 AWD’s 2.5 litre Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine is a new addition to the US Lexus ES range, which has the ES 350 (3.5L V6, 302 hp/362 Nm) and the ES 300h hybrid (2.5L Atkinson cycle engine, 215 hp combined). In our ES 250, the A25A-FKS does 204 hp, 247 Nm and 0-100 km/h is in 9.1 seconds – no acceleration figure for the AWD was released.

Dynamic Torque Control AWD can direct up to 50% 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 for fuel efficiency. The AWD is designed to re-engage instantly when needed, and occupants won’t feel it, Lexus says.

The addition of AWD does not affect legroom, rear seat hip point height, trunk room, ride comfort, cabin quietness or vehicle agility, the company says. The suspension tuning, wheels, and tyres differentiating the ES model grades carry over to the AWD version. For example, the ES F Sport features the same sport-tuned suspension with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and 19-inch wheels in both FWD and AWD versions.

For 2021, there will be a limited production Black Line Special Edition ES 350, limited to 1,500 units in the US. This SE will will be based on the F Sport grade and will be offered in a choice of three exterior colours – Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0, Obsidian and Ultra White – and the F Sport-only two-tone interior (black-white with grey stitching).

The Black Line will also include black outer mirrors, darkened F Sport wheels and lug nuts, and a black rear lip spoiler, although the window outline and exhaust tips remain in chrome. For this SE, Zero Halliburton has customised a two-piece set of travel cases, which includes a 22” carry-on and a 26” medium case, both in black. The Edge Lightweight Collection for Lexus will have a chrome logo badge laser etched with “Zero Halliburton for Lexus”, a Lexus grille motif and a Lexus embossed leather logo badge.

For 2021, all models now come with Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard, in addition to the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite that includes Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist. The seventh-generation Lexus ES was launched in Malaysia in September 2019 – more on the sleek sedan in our launch report and first drive video review.

GALLERY: 2021 Lexus ES


GALLERY: Lexus ES 250 Luxury in Malaysia