2022 Lexus ES
250 AWD F Sport
Pros—Refined. Roomy. Smooth ride. Nice handling. Brisk acceleration. Fairly sporty. AWD. Safety features.
Cons—No fold-down rear seatbacks. Oversized grille detracts from from slick styling.
Bottom Line—Sublime, competitively priced cruiser.
The 2022 Lexus ES 250 AWD F Sport model is a sublime cruiser with a fair degree of sportiness. I say “sportiness” because this model in the ES 250 line is essentially a luxury sedan that coddles occupants with a quiet, creamy ride.
The ES is the top-selling sedan in the Lexus lineup and there are only minor styling changes for 2022, along with safety and performance enhancements. An 8-inch multimedia system is angled towards the driver for easier access, the infotainment system gets touch capability and there’s also a touch pad controller.
The competitively priced F Sport promises to attract younger buyers. It looks more distinctive than a standard ES with a unique front bumper and grille and has 19-inch split 5-spoke alloy wheels with a gloss black finish, front/rear performance dampers, sport suspension tuning, rear spoiler, aluminum interior trim, F Sport bolstered heated and ventilated front seats that hug you in curves, F Sport steering wheel and discreet “F Sport” front fender badging.
Some feel that the F Sport should be more powerful, but I found my test car’s sophisticated 2.5-liter four-cylinder does fine during city and highway driving with its 203 horsepower and and 184 pound/feet of torque. The official 0-60 m.p.h. time is 8.6 seconds, although the car felt faster. The engine is hooked to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and top speed is 131 m.p.h.
A 3.5-liter ES V-6 with 302 horsepower and a high-mileage hybrid ES with 215 horsepower also are offered. But neither come with all-wheel drive.
With the twist of the F Sport’s dashboard control, a driver can select “Eco,” “Normal” or “Sport” driving modes. I found Normal mode to be best for regular driving. Sport tightens the steering and controls the engine and transmission for, as Lexus puts it, “more powerful acceleration” when more responsive driving is called for. Eco quiets things down a bit for better fuel economy but doesn’t cause acceleration to fall off all that much.
As it is, the F Sport gets an estimated 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on highways. However, lots of stop and go city driving only got me 17 miles per gallon and I saw just 25 miles per gallon during 65-70 m.p.h. during 40 miles of freeway driving. I switched a lot between Eco, Normal and Sport modes to ascertain how things felt during the test, but mostly stayed in Normal mode.
Regarding gasoline grade, the owner’s manual recommends “87 (Research Octane Number 91) or higher” for the 15.9-gallon fuel tank.
The F Sport has rather firm steering, especially in Sport mode, but it’s quick and accurate. Handling of the 3,780-pound F Sport is quite good with its special suspension, traction and stability controls and the standard all-wheel drive. Freeway on and off ramps could confidently be taken 15 miles per hour above the 25 m.p.h. posted speed with no body sway. The brake pedal initially had a mushy feel, but I got used to it and the pedal then was easily modulated. Electronic brake force distribution helps shorten stopping distances from the anti-lock brakes.
All doors have power windows and open widely to allow impressive room for four tall adults in the relaxing, quiet interior. A driver faces a large tachometer with a digital speedometer in its center. Switch to “Sport” mode and the tachometer face brightens a bit.
There’s a fair amount of cabin storage areas including (rather narrow) pockets in all doors and front seatback pockets.
Besides the touch screen, dashboard controls handle such things as the automatic climate control system and heated seats. There’s also Apple CarPlay integration and Android Auto capability.
My test F Sport had a an elegant dashboard clock, 10-speaker audio system, perforated NuLuxe interior trim, contrast stitching and piano black trim on the instrument panel, doors and upper console and a leather heated steering wheel with a power tilt/telescopic steering column. Anyone who has priced a busted outside power side mirror will appreciate the fold-in power side mirrors.
The power sunroof is small, compared to rival sunroofs, especially those with a panoramic feature. And it seems odd that there is a wireless charger in the console storage box, which has a cover that must be lifted to see how the charging is going.
All four powered windows lower all the way, and rear seat room is impressive for a mid-size car. A large center fold-down armrest back there contains two cupholders.
The cargo area is large, but rear seatbacks don’t flip forward to provide more storage room. My test car’s up/down power hatch came in handy when my arms were full of groceries.
_Safety features include a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, low-light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, left-turn intersection support, detection of intersection oncoming traffic, air bags, a backup monitor, frontal collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and detection of oncoming intersection traffic.
While the 2022 Lexus ES 250 AWD F Sport lacks the the outright athletic ability of rivals such as BMW, Mercedes or Audi, it’s designed to appeal to a more relaxed crowd while still providing a fair amount of sportiness.