Though it seems like SUVs are taking over the automotive universe, there are still a lot of people who prefer a good old sedan due to its lower entry height, lower center of gravity and lower proclivity to roll over in an accident. An appealing new offering in the sedan market is the Lexus ES250. Setting itself apart from the six-cylinder ES350, the ES250 concentrates on the fours; four-cylinder engine and four-wheel-drive, all wrapped in an attractive aerodynamic package with lots of sharp angles to give it a modern, aggressive look.

The first impression one gets with this car is premium quality. Stylish exterior looks lead to a very attractive leather clad interior with distinctive wood trim accents. It has all the modern amenities and some classic throw-back touches like the analogue clock embedded in the console top screen. Blending old and new, the ten-way power heated and cooled seats are moderately bolstered and easily adjusted for comfort. Winter driving chill is further ameliorated by a heated steering wheel. The dual automatic climate control uses buttons and knobs that are a lot easier to use than having to do everything through a screen. Similarly, the audio system is relatively easy to use thanks to a hard knob for on/off and volume control and a surrounding ring to control tuning. Thank you, Lexus. Otherwise, the screen interface is somewhat difficult to master because there’s a touchpad in the console between the seats like on a laptop computer, which is not the easiest to use, especially if you’re on pavement that is anything but glass smooth. Using the touchscreen directly seems easier to me.

The ES250 also is loaded with safety features such as a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert and ten airbags. The gauge cluster that the driver faces is all electronic, which allows it to display a multitude of information, but if it fails, you better hope it’s under warranty or your child has a degree from MIT. The only two “real” gauges are for engine temperature and fuel level. Amenities include a one-touch sunroof, and a nice large trunk with easy access and a pass-through for long items. The rear seat does not fold. Rear legroom, however, is phenomenal, and rear seat passengers get their own air vents and power points.

The ES250 is not the choice for muscle car fans. It has decent acceleration, but clearly it’s a four-cylinder and not a V-6 as in previous generations of the ES. A V-6 ES350 is still available if you want maximum power. The biggest advantage to the smaller engine is that it weighs less, so it’s a little better balanced and therefore handles a bit better than its V-6 brethren. It also has four-wheel-drive, which would have been nice earlier this month. The ES250 offers a comfortable ride with decent handling, which is calibrated more towards luxury than sportiness. The most impressive driving feature was the car’s steering feel, which was nice and tight in sport mode and was direct and firm and not overboosted as one would expect in a car like this. This would be a great car for a road trip or someone who prefers luxury and fuel economy to maximum acceleration and sportier ride.

“The ES250 is one of the few full-sized sedans with all-wheel-drive,” says Dishion Robinson, product specialist at Plaza Lexus. “It gets better mileage with the 4-cylinder engine than the 6, but the comfortable suspension and good handling offer the same excellent smooth ride.”


  • Base $42,000 including delivery
  • As driven with options: $49,000

Gas mileage:

  • 25 city
  • 34 highway


  •  Front engine; all-wheel-drive
  • 2.5 litre 4-cylinder engine, 203 horsepower
  • 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters

Robert Paster ( is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.