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Review: 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

The first Lexus ES burst onto the market 30 years ago, a smaller luxury sedan that was originally built on the platform of a Toyota Camry.

In fact, Lexus created the ES only because dealers didn’t want to be limited to just one model (at that time the LS). So they put together what some called the “luxury sedan of sports sedans.”

Now, three decades later the ES has a whole host of fans. In fact, as a disclaimer, I’ll point out that my own personal car is an ES hybrid.

For the 2019 model year Lexus made a few changes, both inside and out, resulting in a quicker, somewhat-sportier car.

The Basics

The ES competes in the mid-size luxury sedan segment, which is full of strong entries. For 2019 the ES picked up more horsepower (302 to be exact), produced by a 3.5-liter V6.

There are four trim levels available, beginning with the base model, ranging up to the new F Sport. The latter shows off a sportier look, among other things.

And, for the record, you can also pick up the ES in a hybrid, the ES300h.

The car features front-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission.

Outwardly, it’s as nice-looking as ever. The engineers stretched the car by a couple of inches for 2019, and the F Sport model I drove features a few design differences like 19-inch wheels and its own unique grill.

The Inside

By stretching the car they may have added a smidge of more room, but it wasn’t necessary. The ES already has plenty of room for both front and rear-seat passengers.

You’re surrounded, of course, in solid luxury. It says a lot when one of the few faces I made with the car involved simply the color of the seats — and even then, as the week went by the red kinda grew on me.

Those seats are very comfy, by the way. Even on long drives you and your passengers will be supremely happy.

Controls and gauges are in easy-to-use positions (even if they themselves are not always so easy; more on that later).

Storage up front is not as ample as I expected, although I appreciated the oversized cup holder. There’s some limited space beyond the medium-sized center bin.

Any paucity of space is forgiven when you pop the trunk. That space is enormous, and can hold plenty of bags or sporting equipment. No fold-down seats, but a pass-through into the back seat offsets that just a bit.

Sight-lines are good, and there are no problems with blind-spot vision.

The Drive

No complaints whatsoever. That newly-upgraded engine provides more than enough oomph.

I had no concerns with merging and passing, and the ride itself is familiar to anyone who’s driven a Lexus: Smooth, quiet, and comfortable.

Both steering and overall handling were exceptional, and braking seemed about average to me.

The Tech

This is where I took off a few marks. Sure, the tech screen is large and vivid, and everything on it looks great. Many things in the car can be adjusted with a knob.

But not all. For those you have to fiddle with a touchpad which has replaced the old joystick. Neither are optimal, in my opinion.

I’d love to see a study on how much the touchpad causes distracted driving. There are certain features that could and should have a button or know rather than making you scroll through menu options.

Good news for iPhone people: You get Apple CarPlay.

Bad news for Android users: You do not get Android Auto. I’m assuming it’s only a matter of time, but that time has not yet arrived.

The audio sounds good, if that’s a consolation.

There are a ton of great safety and driver-assist features, like adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and you’ll also find a nice package of voice commands for phone and navigation.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve worked hard for a few years and feel like the time has come to step up to luxury vehicle, this could very well be your ticket.

The ES, while not top of the line, has a nice array of standard features and still bathes you with high-end materials and a fantastic drive.

It looks good, it even sounds good, and it won’t set you back as much as you think. My F Sport model has an initial sticker price in the low 40s.

The ES 350 is most definitely worth a test drive.

The Details

2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport
3.5-liter V6
302 horsepower
8-speed automatic transmission w/ wheel-mounted paddle shifters
Front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 22/31/25 combined
MSRP: $44,035
As tested: $50,575

Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer


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