Having served six generations as Lexus’s benchmark entry into the luxury-sedan market, this new seventh-generation Lexus ES will establish itself as one of the absolute leaders.
The 2019 ES 350 and ES 350 F Sport are propelled by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, with direct and port injection, producing 302 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. The eight-speed automatic transmission replaced the former six-speed, and fuel efficiency is expected to be 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, resulting in a combined average of 26 mpg.
There is also a hybrid ES 300h that is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine assisted by an electric-drive motor, producing a total of 215 horsepower and achieving a combined fuel consumption of 44 mpg. The electric battery has been moved from the trunk to underneath the back seat to avoid a loss in cargo capacity.
With six models incorporating Lexus Hybrid Drive, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader.
The height of the new Lexus ES sits about 2 inches lower but stretches 2.6 inches longer and 1.8 inches wider than the preceding generation.
The attractive looks of the new ES are described by Lexus design division’s Project Chief Designer Yasuo Kajino as “provocative elegance.” “The ES has always been an elegant luxury sedan. For this generation, we have added daring design elements that challenge the traditional expectations of buyers,” he said in a press release in April 2018 introducing the next-generation Lexus ES.There are three dozen colors in the exterior paint’s palette, including green and beige shades to choose from.
The electric power steering feels instant and responsive. This Lexus has the industry’s first “swing-valve” shock absorber. No bump is too big. The cabin is further calmed as mini shocks inside the absorber carry a second piston to soften and spread out bumps.
Inside the spacious and comfortable cabin, a driver-centric cockpit places the center display screen, instrument panel, and available heads-up display in a tight cluster—never outside the driver’s field of view.
The seats are comfortable, but I would have preferred a little more width to the driver’s seat. And of course, the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is there for assistance in case of a misstep.
Outside, the low hood enables the new ES to produce a distinct silhouette, emphasized by a downward aggressive slant.
The ES offers two dramatically different grille designs. My favorite design, used in the standard ES 350 and the ES 300h consists of elegant vertical bars that radiate out from the center, while the ES 350 F Sport model adopts a blacked-out pattern consisting of L-shaped clusters with corresponding cut-outs at each corner of the fascia.
The ES 350 and ES 300h offer three different wheel designs, which include the standard 17-inch and two additional 18-inch designs, while the ES 350 F Sport comes standard with 19-inch wheels.
This generation of the ES is the first Lexus to offer Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, which bridges the phone and the car, allowing the driver to control phone apps through the dashboard display screen, or with Siri Eyes Free voice control.
My test model had on-board Wi-Fi powered by Verizon as part of the navigation system, whose 12.3-inch dashboard display is so easy to read. Models without navigation will use an 8-inch display, and all interaction will be controlled through the Remote Touch Interface trackpad.
The 2019 ES 350 goes on sale Sept. 1 at the 240 Lexus dealerships across the United States. The estimated retail price will range from $39,000 to $42,000.
The new ES is comparably priced to last year’s model even though it’s built better and loaded with more accessories.
This is a competitive market, but it looks like Lexus is well positioned to lead the field.
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or at firstname.lastname@example.org.