2019 Lexus ES First Look: Catching Up


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We’ve praised the outgoing Lexus ES for its spacious interior and plentiful standard safety features, but we can’t ignore its shortcomings in handling and ride quality. With the 2019 Lexus ES riding on a new architecture, the luxury midsize sedan has great potential to improve as it enters its seventh generation.

The 2019 Lexus ES sits on the new GA-K platform that uses high-tensile steel to reduce weight. To heighten the car’s responses, the ES has a multi-link rear suspension design, rack-mounted electric power steering, and a V-brace behind the rear seat. The car has also grown in most dimensions. It’s 2.6 inches longer and 1.8 inches wider than its predecessor, with a 2.0-inch longer wheelbase. The ES began sharing more of its parts with the Toyota Avalon than the Camry starting with the last generation, and this model continues that tradition, having the same wheelbase and length as the 2019 Toyota Avalon.

The new generation ushers in the first F Sport version of the ES. It receives a number of enhancements from the regular model, including a special grille with a blacked-out pattern, a rear spoiler, a dark lower valence, and an exclusive Ultra Sonic Blue Mica 2.0 exterior paint. The 2019 ES 350 F Sport also offers an adaptive variable suspension similar to the one on the Toyota Avalon, as well as a special Sport+ mode that puts the engine, transmission, and suspension in their sharpest settings and enhances the engine note.

The rest of the lineup features a slightly less sporty look, with vertical grille slats replacing the horizontal ones from the previous generation. The ES 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 like the previous model. But this time around, it delivers 302 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, up from 268 hp and 248 lb-ft. And instead of a six-speed automatic, the car gets a new eight-speed.

For the hybrid, an updated powertrain consists of a lighter, more compact electric motor, a nickel metal hydride battery, and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine. Increasing total output from 200 hp to 215 hp, this powertrain has been initially estimated to hit 44 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The current model tops out at a combined 40 mpg.

The interior of the new model looks considerably less cluttered than before. At the center of the cockpit is an 8.0-inch display, although buyers can upgrade to a 12.3-inch display with navigation. The center screen is controlled by Lexus’ touchpad to the right of the shifter.  The ES is the first Lexus to offer Apple CarPlay, but the car still won’t have Android Auto.

The 2019 Lexus ES also recognizes Amazon Alexa commands both from the car to the driver’s home and from home to the car. Along with an updated instrument cluster, there is also an available head-up display that displays key information on the windshield in front of the driver. Surrounding all the technology you’ll find bamboo and wood trim, or on F Sport models, metallic trim.

In terms of safety, all Lexus models receive a standard safety package that includes a pre-collision system. On the ES, that system includes daytime bicyclist detection and automatic emergency braking. Lexus has also tweaked the radar tech to help the ES better detect pedestrians at night.

Two new exterior colors—Sunlit Green and Moonbeam Beige Metallic—join the exterior color palette for the new model year. The 2019 Lexus ES goes on sale this September.