The Lexus ES has been a mainstay in the Lexus lineup since it was introduced in 1989. The ES has always been a comfortable, luxurious midsize sedan, but it’s never been described as a sports sedan, since the IS and GS have tackled the sporty segments. But times have changed. Sedans are no longer the hot sellers that were, so Lexus has responded by finally injecting some excitement into the ES.
The 2019 Lexus ES debuted earlier this year, marking the introduction of the seventh-generation ES, which also introduces an F Sport model for the first time ever. The 2019 ES also moves to a new platform, called GA-K, which gives the midsize sedan a longer, lower and wider stance as the sedan finally focuses on driving performance. Compared to the previous generation, the 2019 ES is 2.6-inches longer and 1.8-inches wider. Even if it’s longer, most of that extra length goes in between the wheels, since its wheelbase is now 2-inches longer.
On the outside, the 2019 ES is now more stylish than ever with a more sculpted and sleeker exterior that makes the last generation look bloated and dorky. From the front, the ES’s face is dominated by the latest rendition of the spindle grille, which is still polarizing.
With its larger footprint the 2019 ES moves further upmarket, to give the IS a little more breathing room, but also it looks like the ES will eventually replace the GS. The Lexus GS has already been discontinued in Europe and we’re waiting to see if the rear-wheel drive sedan also disappears from the US market as well.
If the GS does finally disappear, it also explains why the ES has not only moved a bit upmarket, but also why it is now focusing on driving performance, more than ever before. Under the hood the 2019 ES is offered with a choice of two powertrains. The ES 350 and ES 350 F Sport are powered by a 3.5L V6 with 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque, which is an improvement of 34 horsepower and 19 lb-ft. of torque. The V6 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and is rated at 22/33 mpg. The ES 300h is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder that’s mated to an electric motor to give the hybrid powertrain a total 215 horsepower and a combined 44 mpg rating.
With 302 horsepower on tap, the ES 350 F Sport zooms down the road with more thrust than we’ve experienced in the past. The ES 350 F Sport can reach 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, which is half a second faster than before, on its way to a top speed of 131 mph. There are also four drive modes to choose from: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+. The Sport mode improves the throttle response and makes the automatic transmission shift a bit faster, but if you want to have more fun, the Sport+ mode also tightens up the suspension and improves the steering response. As you’d expect, we mostly drove around town with the dial turned all the way to the Sport+ mode.
In Sport+ mode, the ES 350 F Sport turns into an athletic sports sedan, it also helps that the F Sport model adds an Adaptive Variable Suspension with adaptive dampers. The suspension keeps the ES 350 F Sport planted to the road, while its more powerful V6 is always ready to keep the fun going. The Sport+ mode also adds a meatier sound under the hood, which lets you know that this isn’t your grandpa’s old ES.
While Lexus has made more of an effort to make the ES sportier, that doesn’t mean that it’s ditched the quiet, luxurious interior. Inside the interior is also more stylish than the last generation and the F Sport’s seats continue the sporty theme. The interior is library quiet and even with its sportier suspension, its ride quality doesn’t suffer.
The 2019 ES also arrives with an available 12.3-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa connectivity and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The infotainment system is still not very easy to use thanks to the Remote Touch Interface. Why can’t we just have a simple touchscreen? In front of the driver there’s also an available 10.2-inch full color head-up display.
The ES is the brand’s best selling sedan and with the introduction of the 2019 ES, the midsize sedan will likely continue to hold that title. Lexus took everything that buyers have loved about the past six generations of the ES, but finally added something that it’s needed from day one – a sportier driving experience.
The 2019 Lexus ES 350 starts at $39,500, but the more fun ES 350 F Sport starts at $44,035. If the hybrid is more you’re speed, the 2019 ES 300h starts at $41,310.