If you’ve read our reviews for any recent Lexus models, you probably would have seen us complaining about its horrid touchpad control system for its outdated infotainment software. Well, it’s high time Lexus realises that it was a mistake, because the Japanese carmaker is finally going with a touchscreen display for its new Lexus ES facelift – but we’ll talk more about that in a bit.
Firstly, the exterior. The new Lexus ES facelift has been given a mild aesthetic touch-up with most changes reserved for the front fascia. The grille still retains its iconic spindle shape, but receives a new L-shaped mesh pattern, along with a more exaggerated forward extrusion which supposedly “heightens the sense of quality” of the car.
Flanking the grille are the newly redesigned headlights, which now also features the BladeScan adaptive high beam system (as seen on the RX and LS), using millions of spinning blade mirrors to accurately reflect the LED light source onto the road ahead.
Wrapping up the exterior changes are the new 17- to 19-inch alloys, which have all been redesigned, alongside two new coats of paint: Sonic Iridium, which “takes advantage of strong shadows to further accentuate the shape of the vehicle”, and Sonic Chrome, which meshes metallic paint qualities into a high-gloss finish.
Moving onto the interior, the one big change is of course the aforementioned new touchscreen infotainment display, which comes in a standard 8-inch unit, upgradeable to a 12.3-inch display depending on variant – both touchscreen enabled.
In order for the driver to reach every corner of the screen naturally without stretching, the screen has been moved closer to the driver by more than 100 mm, and tilted approximately five degrees towards the driver.
Other interior changes are just materials and colours, with the trim pieces getting either a walnut material or a laser-etched “hairline ornament”, while the upholstery is slathered in either Hazel or a new “brown grayish-tone” called Mauve.
Despite this being a facelift model, Lexus says that it has done significant below-the-surface changes to the new ES to make the driving sensation “more linear and faithful to the driver’s intentions”.
A key part of that grandiose claim is the use of a new “proprietary Lexus method” to increase the rigidity of the suspension-member braces at the rear, which enhances steering stability in tricky situations such as high-speed lane changes.
The F Sport model of the new ES also gets a new adaptive variable suspension (AVS) system, featuring a new actuator that is supposedly more responsive to low damping forces, helping it to achieve both good ride comfort while improving steering response and stability.
Other performance improvement is in the braking department, where Lexus says the brake controllability on all powertrain options of the ES facelift have been improved. On the pure ICE side, the idle stroke of the brake pedal is reduced, while the brake control software on the hybrid models is retuned so that the switch from regenerative braking to actual, physical braking is more easily controlled.
The shape of the brake pedal pad itself has also been expanded, giving drivers a larger contact area to improve the sense of stability under heavy braking, while the mounting method for the brake pedal itself has also been revised to give a better sense of lateral rigidity.
Speaking of powertrains, all options have been carried over from before, though the ES is now available in a new ES 300h F Sport variant in the United States, which is said to have a combined output of 218 hp from the PHEV powertrain.
On the safety front, the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 advanced driver assistance suite sees improvements across the board, thanks to the improved single-lens camera and millimetre-wave radar modules.
The Pre-Collision System can now detect oncoming vehicles from the opposite lane at the junction, while the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system gets a new “smooth overtaking” function allongside a Curve Speed Reduction function – the latter automatically reduces the speed of the car based on the curvature of the road ahead.
Lane Tracing Assist on the new Lexus ES facelift has also been improved with a new AI-powered software, while the digital side-view and rear-view mirrors (available in selected regions) gets a new noise-reduction process for clearer image especially in low-light or mixed-light situations.