2019 Lexus ES Review, Intersect with Luxury By Larry Nutson
2019 Lexus ES Review
Intersect with Luxury
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
Much has changed in the U.S. automotive landscape since Toyota’s Lexus brand first came on the scene in 1989. Back then luxury sedans were growing in popularity and the 1990 V8 powered Lexus LS 400 turned heads and made people sit up and take notice.
Now, 29 years later, sedans are declining in popularity with the big consumer shift to Crossovers and SUVs. Perhaps we can rightly say that the Crossover is the new family sedan.
The ES is Lexus’ highest volume sedan and third biggest volume seller behind the RX and NX crossover SUVs. And now for 2019 the seventh generation Lexus ES midsize sedan has arrived.
The front-wheel drive ES is built on a new platform with increased torsional stiffness for better comfort, ride quality and sportier chassis behavior. The ES is longer, lower and wide which provides more rear seat room.
The ES is available in the ES 350 model with a 302-HP 3.5-L V6 or in the ES 300h model with 215 total system horsepower coming from a 2.5-L 4 cylinder combined with a 39-HP electric drive motor. The 2019 ES 350 is priced to start at $39,600 and the ES 300h starts at $41,410. A Luxury trim adds $2,555 and Ultra Luxury adds $3,650, for both models. A new F Sport package for the ES 350 is priced at $4,535 additional.
The exterior of the ES is all-new with a low hood flanked by slim headlights bordering the signature Lexus spindle grille with its unique vertical pattern. Swept back A-pillars, low roofline and sharply slanted C-pillars help emphasize the broad shoulder line. LED taillamps wrap around the rear into the trunk lid. A lower valance is punctuated by two chrome exhaust outlets. Overall the design language is more aggressive and sporty.
For my drive evaluation I was behind the wheel of the ES 350 F-sport that features a black mesh grille, trunk lid spoiler, 19-inch wheels and a unique F-sport Ultra Sonic Blue Mica 2.0 finish.
Coincidentally I had recently driven the 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. The Avalon and the ES are built off the same platform. They also use the same powertrains. By default, I’ve now had a chance to experience both engines. The Avalon impressed me with its luxury look and feel. The ES has, as it should, a more sporty look as well as a more luxurious overall feel both in and out.
In the cabin, materials have been upgraded and there’s a greater sense of style. The F-Sport I drove has nicely contoured and supportive front sport sets. A 12.3-inch display is centered high on the instrument panel of the modern interior. Apple CarPlay is now standard.
On the road I thought ES 350 in its F-Sport trim delivered a comfortable and compliant ride. The more rigid chassis on all models uses various grades of high strength steel along with significant amounts of structural adhesives to deliver a responsive ride. The 19-inch wheels mounted with 235/40 tires handled pock-marked city streets fairly well. New Dynamic Control shocks deliver more response and on the F Sport model, an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is offered that replaces the Dynamic Control Shocks with adjustable dampers.
The 302-HP V6 is mated to an 8-speed automatic. All versions of the ES offer a Drive Mode Select system that allows the driver to select Eco, Normal or Sport modes for varying road conditions. F-Sport models replace Sport mode with Sport S while adding Sport S+ and Custom.
The V6 is plenty quick hitting 60 mph from stop in 6.6 seconds. Top speed is 131 mph, EPA test-cycle ratings are 22 city mpg and 33 highway mpg. The F-sport is two mpg lower in the highway rating. For comparison, the ES 300H hybrid trades off performance for low fuel consumption. Zero to 60 mph is in 8.1 seconds, top speed is 112 mph and EPA test-cycle ratings are 44 mpg city and 45 mph highway.
The Lexus ES is loaded with the latest in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, pedestrian and bicyclist detection, automatic high beam control and lane tracing assist. The last item is new and designed to detect lane markings to determine lane position. If road markings are not detected, LTA is also capable, in certain conditions, of following the car ahead of it when used together with adaptive cruise control.
Options include sunroof, rear sunshade, head up display, blind spot monitor and park assist sonar among others.
More information, specifications and details can be found at www.lexus.com.
Lexus is trying to engage a broader range of customers and, of course, compete more effectively with the European brand luxury cars. A new initiative in this regard is “Intersect by Lexus.” This lifestyle hub just opened in its third global location in New York City. Intersect guests will be able to engage with Lexus through events, activities, food and culture. And, there are no vehicles on display at Intersect.
© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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