2020 Lexus ES vs 2021 Lexus IS

2020 Lexus ES
2020 Lexus ES
$39,900MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Lexus IS
2021 Lexus IS
$39,050MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2020 Lexus ES
$39,900MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Lexus IS
$39,050MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2020 Lexus ES is 8.0 out of 10, while the 2021 Lexus IS scores 7.3 out of 10. Based on these ratings, the 2020 Lexus ES is the recommended choice, offering a more luxurious and spacious cabin, a comfortable ride, and better overall value.

Overview

MSRP

$39,900

MSRP

$39,050

Average price

$30,952

Average price

$35,614

Listings

225

Listings

396
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

8.0 out of 10

Expert reviews

7.3 out of 10
Pros
  • Premium interior materials
  • Standard advanced safety features
Cons
  • Not much cargo space
  • Fairly pedestrian performance
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Great handling
Cons
  • Underwhelming base engine
  • Irritating transmission
  • Outdated technology

2020 Lexus ES Reviews Summary

SUVs might dominate the luxury car market, but many luxury brands were built on sedans, like the 2020 Lexus ES. While crossovers and SUVs combine added cargo space with all-weather driving capability, sedans are all about driving in comfort. Lower ride height allows sedans to be far more refined in on-road driving dynamics, offer better fuel economy, and still have enough room for a weekend’s worth of bags. SUVs might have the attributes that you might need in certain scenarios, but sedans like the 2020 Lexus ES excel in ways that are relevant in everyday driving.

The 2020 Lexus ES is one year off a complete redesign, though it maintains the same comfort-first formula. It is available in a racy 350 F Sport trim level, but don’t expect any major leaps in performance. The ES delivers on a serene ride and a quiet, well-appointed cabin. For 2020, the ES gains some in-cabin tech features, joining a long list of standard technology.

2021 Lexus IS Reviews Summary

The Lexus IS enters its fourth generation of production, embodying lessons learned from the LC and RC. The 2021 IS targets enthusiast drivers and luxury buyers who might be thinking German first, and it seeks to recalibrate expectations of what a compact luxury sports sedan can be.
Popular Features & Specs

Engine

3.5L 302 hp V6

Engine

2.0L 241 hp I4

Drive Train

FWD

Drive Train

RWD

Seating Capacity

5

Seating Capacity

5

Horsepower

302 hp @ 6600 rpm

Horsepower

241 hp @ 5800 rpm

MPG City

22

MPG City

21

MPG Highway

32

MPG Highway

31
2020 Lexus ES
2020 Lexus ES
$39,900MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Lexus IS
2021 Lexus IS
$39,050MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2020 Lexus ES
$39,900MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Lexus IS
$39,050MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2020 Lexus ES is 8.0 out of 10, while the 2021 Lexus IS scores 7.3 out of 10. Based on these ratings, the 2020 Lexus ES is the recommended choice, offering a more luxurious and spacious cabin, a comfortable ride, and better overall value.

Overview
MSRP
$39,900
$39,050
Average price
$30,952
$35,614
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
4.8
4.5
Expert reviews

8.0 out of 10

Read full review

7.3 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Premium interior materials
  • Standard advanced safety features
Cons
  • Not much cargo space
  • Fairly pedestrian performance
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Great handling
Cons
  • Underwhelming base engine
  • Irritating transmission
  • Outdated technology
Summary

SUVs might dominate the luxury car market, but many luxury brands were built on sedans, like the 2020 Lexus ES. While crossovers and SUVs combine added cargo space with all-weather driving capability, sedans are all about driving in comfort. Lower ride height allows sedans to be far more refined in on-road driving dynamics, offer better fuel economy, and still have enough room for a weekend’s worth of bags. SUVs might have the attributes that you might need in certain scenarios, but sedans like the 2020 Lexus ES excel in ways that are relevant in everyday driving.

The 2020 Lexus ES is one year off a complete redesign, though it maintains the same comfort-first formula. It is available in a racy 350 F Sport trim level, but don’t expect any major leaps in performance. The ES delivers on a serene ride and a quiet, well-appointed cabin. For 2020, the ES gains some in-cabin tech features, joining a long list of standard technology.

The Lexus IS enters its fourth generation of production, embodying lessons learned from the LC and RC. The 2021 IS targets enthusiast drivers and luxury buyers who might be thinking German first, and it seeks to recalibrate expectations of what a compact luxury sports sedan can be.
Video
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
3.5L 302 hp V6
2.0L 241 hp I4
Drive Train
FWD
RWD
Seating Capacity
5
5
Horsepower
302 hp @ 6600 rpm
241 hp @ 5800 rpm
MPG City
22
21
MPG Highway
32
31
Look and feel
2020 Lexus ES
9/10
2021 Lexus IS
8/10
The 2020 Lexus ES had evolved significantly from its earlier "boring" label. By 2020, it featured a more aggressive design, highlighted by a large spindle grille that integrated well with the car's larger proportions. The rear design was more subdued, with thin taillamps and a pronounced kink at the back of the side windows, adding a touch of rakishness. Inside, the ES boasted a luxurious cabin with soft-touch materials and a large infotainment screen, seamlessly blending modern technology with an organic aesthetic. The ES 350 F Sport trim added unique exterior and interior elements, including a black mesh grille, 19-inch alloy wheels, and exclusive Circuit Red interior color. The 2021 Lexus IS, on the other hand, made a bold statement with its athletic proportions and great stance. Its design captured motion even when stationary, with a fast roofline and an interesting kick-up of the window base at the back of the passenger door. The new spindle grille with diamond mesh and narrow headlights gave the IS an assertive look. Inside, the IS featured a tastefully simple dash with a retro hi-fi feel, matching the exterior's bold and modern aesthetic. However, the analog clock felt outdated in this otherwise contemporary interior.
Performance
2020 Lexus ES
7/10
2021 Lexus IS
7/10
The 2020 Lexus ES came equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, delivering 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Lexus claimed a 0-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph. The ES provided confident acceleration and a comfortable, refined ride, thanks to its Dynamic Control Shocks. The F Sport trim offered an optional Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with adjustable dampers and additional drive modes, including Sport+ for a more engaging driving experience. Despite its Toyota Camry and Avalon roots, the ES's upgraded suspension and paddle shifters made for a livelier drive. The 2021 Lexus IS aimed to compete in the luxury sports sedan category with its "Lexus Driving Signature" philosophy, developed at the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. The IS 300 RWD featured a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine with 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, while the IS 300 AWD had a 3.5-liter V6 with 260 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The IS 350 models, both AWD and RWD, shared the same V6 but with 311 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The IS 350 RWD accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The IS's double-wishbone front and multi-link rear independent suspension, along with electrically powered rack-and-pinion steering, provided a crisp, precise, and balanced driving experience. Fuel efficiency varied, with the IS 300 RWD achieving 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, while the IS 350 AWD managed 19/26 mpg.
Form and function
2020 Lexus ES
6/10
2021 Lexus IS
7/10
The 2020 Lexus ES featured a spacious cabin with ample head- and legroom in both rows. The front seats could slide back significantly without compromising rear-seat legroom. Despite its exterior appearance, rear-seat headroom was expanded in the 2019 redesign. The front doors had deep pockets, and the center console offered multiple retractable panels for storage. The ES had 16.7 cubic feet of trunk space, mid-pack for the midsize luxury segment, but the rear seats did not fold down, limiting cargo flexibility. The 2021 Lexus IS focused on a driver-centered design with a comfortable, supportive seat and easily adjustable driver position. The F Sport trim's bolstered seat, standard in IS 350 models, included heating and ventilation. The IS used NuLuxe synthetic upholstery, which Lexus claimed was eco-friendly, lightweight, and easier to clean than leather. Storage space was ample, with an open cubby, twin cupholders, large door pockets, and a decent glovebox. The second row was comfortable for two but cramped for three, with legroom negotiated with front-seat occupants. The trunk offered 10.8 cubic feet of space, surprisingly deep but smaller than the ES.
Technology
2020 Lexus ES
8/10
2021 Lexus IS
7/10
The 2020 Lexus ES featured the Lexus Remote Touch system, controlling the standard 8-inch or available 12.3-inch display. While not a touchscreen, the Remote Touch pad was intuitive once presets were set. The system gained standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in 2020, making navigation and other functions easier. The ES also offered a 10-speaker premium audio system, with an optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system and a head-up display. The 2021 Lexus IS introduced a touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The touchpad remained but was no longer the default option. The IS included various connected services with free trial periods, such as Lexus Enform Safety Connect, Service Connect, WiFi, and Remote. The Navigation Package included Dynamic Navigation and Destination Assist for three years. The Mark Levinson 17-speaker, 1,800-watt premium surround-sound audio system was a recommended option, providing superb audio quality.
Safety
2020 Lexus ES
10/10
2021 Lexus IS
7/10
The 2020 Lexus ES came standard with Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, including forward collision avoidance, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, dynamic radar cruise control, and automatic high beams. It also featured pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, and lane-tracing assist. Other safety features included front- and side-impact airbags, traction control, stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The 2021 Lexus IS had not yet been rated by the IIHS or NHTSA but was expected to perform well based on its platform. It came standard with Lexus Safety System+ 2.5, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with steering assist, road-sign recognition, enhanced lane-tracing assist, full-speed dynamic adaptive cruise control, and intelligent high beams. Additional safety features included vehicle dynamic integrated management, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a backup camera, LED headlamps, and Lexus Enform Safety Connect.
CarGurus logo

By: CarGurus + AI

At CarGurus, our team of experienced automotive writers remain at the heart of our content operation, conducting hands-on car tests and writing insightful guides that are backed by years of industry experience. To complement this, we are harnessing AI to make our content offering more diverse and more helpful to shoppers than ever. To achieve this, our AI systems are based exclusively on CarGurus content, ratings and data, so that what we produce is both unique to CarGurus, and uniquely helpful to car shoppers.