The 2019 Lexus ES brings major updates to this entry-level luxury sedan. There’s a bold new design, two powertrains, and the addition of an F Sport trim for those who want a sportier look with a driving experience to match.
Styling changes for the ES are dramatic. The outgoing model hadn’t seen any major changes since 2013, and it was showing its age. The 2019 ES is styled in line with the LC coupe and LS sedan and shows off its dramatic spindle grille. It’s a good look and makes the ES a standout rather than an also-ran in this competitive segment.
It’s 2.6 inches longer, 0.2 inches lower, and 1.8 inches wider, which doesn’t sound like much, but the extra size makes a big difference. Lexus also pushed the wheels to the corners for a longer wheelbase, giving the ES a more powerful stance and more presence.
There’s a new F Sport trim with its own unique grille, dual-spoke 19-inch wheels, trunk-lid spoiler, and darker exterior accents. It looks like a performance sedan and delivers on those looks with upgrades including an adaptive variable suspension with 650 levels of adjustment for the best ride quality and control possible.
Every ES has a drive mode select system to tailor the drive to your preferences. Choose Eco, Normal, or Sport modes on most models while those equipped with the adaptive variable suspension system swap Sport mode for Sport S, Sport S+, and Custom modes. Flipping through the modes creates a noticeable difference in vehicle performance, which lets drivers take full advantage of the car’s capabilities.
Power for the ES 350 comes from a 3.5-liter V6 with 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque paired to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a more powerful and more responsive engine than before, and it easily moves the ES along city streets or into heavy highway traffic. The transmission enhances the ride with smooth, quiet shifts that don’t intrude into the cabin so the driver and passengers simply enjoy the ride.
The hybrid ES 300h has a new, fourth-generation hybrid powertrain that features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor for a combined 215 total system horsepower with 163 pound-feet of torque. It achieves Lexus-estimated fuel economy of 44 miles per gallon in the city, 45 on the highway, and 44 combined, which is a big difference compared to the gas powertrain, which gets up to 22 miles per gallon in the city, 33 on the highway, and 26 combined.
The engineers at Lexus worked to improve the hybrid’s ride and lose the rubber-band feel often experienced in hybrid vehicles. The ES 300h tries to make you forget it’s a hybrid altogether and it largely succeeds. The ride is remarkably smooth and quiet. It’s a truly relaxing ride.
The interior is beautiful with comfortable seating that features standard 10-way power-adjustable front seats with the option for heating and ventilation. Unlike many sedans, the ES boasts a comfortable, roomy rear seat that’s ideal for lounging on longer drives.
On the technology front, this is the first Lexus to feature Apple CarPlay for easy smartphone integration. There’s no Android Auto, but the ES is Amazon Alexa-enabled. There’s also a 10-speaker Pioneer audio system or an optional 1,800-watt 17-speaker Mark Levinson system tuned specifically for the ES, which audiophiles will love.
The ES is strong on safety with standard Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 featuring a pre-collision system, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control with road-sign assist, lane-tracing assist, lane-departure alert, intelligent high beams, parking support, and Lexus Enform Safety Connect. Blind-spot monitor, park-assist sonar, and park-assist sonar with pedestrian detection and panoramic-view monitor are available as options.
The all-new 2019 Lexus ES offers exactly the updates this entry-level sedan needed with gas and hybrid powertrains, an elegant interior, and better connectivity. It’s due to arrive in dealerships later this year with pricing announced closer to the on-sale date.