Lexus has totally redesigned its popular midsize ES sedan and added a new F-Sport model. This 2019 version features bolder styling, a new drive train and much more.
The 2019 ES350 and the hybrid ES300h (to be reviewed separately) ride on a new platform and are longer and wider than before. The ES sports a more aggressive grille this year, and now gets sharp, arrow-like headlights to compliment it. The F-Sport version goes even a step further, with a honeycombed grille that’s blacked-out.
Inside, the ES features the expected high quality materials, and excellent fit and finish that Lexus has been known for. Beyond that, a new touchpad on the console, much like the one on your laptop, controls the infotainment system. The system now includes Apple CarPlay (at long last) and can be viewed on an available 12.3-inch screen on the dash. This new arrangement is better than the mouse-type setup it replaces, but still takes a while to get used to.
Lexus increased the wheelbase of the redesigned ES by a couple of inches. This translates into more space in the cabin. Passengers in the rear are the real beneficiaries with greater legroom now. However, the trunk is larger too, with over 16-cubic-feet of storage space.
Under the hood of the ES350, Lexus installs its trusty 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which now pumps out 302 horsepower, up 34 horses from last year. It hooks up to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Lexus says that this combo will rush you to 60 in 6.6 seconds, which sounds about right. Power comes on forcefully, but smoothly.
All ES350 models come well-equipped with standard luxury features, like satellite radio, a 10-speaker sound system and a Wi-Fi hotspot. More importantly, they also get advanced safety equipment, such as forward collision mitigation, dynamic cruise control and lane-departure warning and assist. Luxury and Ultra Luxury models add items like leather, wood accents and a power rear sunshade.
The F-Sport version, like the car I drove, is the most engaging of the ES models. Foremost in its repertoire, is its Adaptive Variable Suspension, which can make innumerable adjustment to keep the ES level while cornering. Additionally, it comes with sport bucket seats, special 19-inch alloy wheels, and distinctive exterior trim, including a rear spoiler.
Out on back roads, the F-Sport really struts itself. It handles like no previous ES I’ve ever driven. This car is very confident on switchback curves. The steering wheel responds quickly to your input, and the Adaptive Variable Suspension keeps the ES on an even keel when you press it into turns. The ride is firmer in the F-Sport than other models because of its 19-inch wheels, but it is still comfortable. And like its siblings, the F-Sport is exceptionally quiet when cruising.
Lexus ES350 pricing starts at $40,525 for the base model, and ranges up to $45,060 for the F-Sport. My loaded F-Sport test car, with options, like navigation, a Mark Levinson sound system and triple-beam LED headlights, had a bottom line of $52,790.