2019 Lexus ES

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Updated: October 8, 2019

2019 Lexus ES

The 2019 Lexus ES is a luxury sedan that pushes the limits of style and size. It’s blessed with an outgoing grille, and with enough interior space to satisfy anyone who needs a large car. 

The 2019 ES has grown by a couple of inches versus the year before; it now measures 196 inches long on a 113-inch wheelbase. That’s 3 inches longer than the related Toyota Camry with a 1-inch longer wheelbase. Interior room is exceptional; though the roofline is low, the front and back seats are spacious and comfortable for five adults. 

This year, the ES skips the base 4-cylinder engine that comes in smaller Lexus sedans, and starts out with a V-6. For 2019 that 3.5-liter engine has been pumped up to 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, which is 34 hp and 19 lb-ft more than last year. It’s also significantly quicker than last year, and now reaches 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. It uses an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Lexus hasn’t skipped the 4-cylinder altogether, however. The ES300h hybrid uses a 2.5-liter inline-4 mated to an electric motor powered by nickel-metal hydride batteries under the rear seat. It uses an electronic continuously variable transmission. The powerplant produces 215 combined horsepower, while the powertrain, combined with the CVT, delivers an impressive combined 44 miles per gallon.

There is also an ES350 F Sport model, with no more power or speed than the ES 350, but with better handling and sportier looks. 

The ES 350 is EPA rated at 22 mpg city, 33 highway, 26 combined, while the F Sport gets 1 less mpg. The ES 300h hybrid’s stellar numbers are 43/45/44 mpg. 

Safety-wise, the ES brings back outstanding results from testing by the IIHS, with a Top Safety Pick+ award, when equipped with optional adaptive headlights. They’re rated “Good,” while the standard LED headlights are merely “Acceptable.” The NHTSA hasn’t crash-tested the 2019 ES yet. 

Standard safety equipment in every ES includes full-speed automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warnings. Many luxury cars don’t even have all this as standard equipment. 

Model Lineup

The$40,525 Lexus ES350 comes with synthetic leather upholstery, LED headlights, a power moonroof, 8.0-inch touchscreen, 10-way power front seats, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, three USB ports, 10-speaker AM/FM/XM/HD/CD audio with Bluetooth streaming and Apple CarPlay compatibility, Amazon Alexa, and 17-inch wheels with all-season tires,

The $42,335 300h hybrid comes equipped nearly identically. 

Options on both include a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, premium Mark Levinson sound system, heated and cooled front seats, real leather upholstery, wood trim, a hands-free trunk lid, adaptive suspension, a panoramic roof, adaptive LED headlights, a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, and 18-inch wheels.

For $45,060 the F Sport adds adaptive dampers, a Sport+ driving mode, sport seats, active noise control that pipes the exhaust note into the cabin, aluminum interior trim, F Sport gauges, dark exterior trim, a rear spoiler, and 19-inch wheels with all-season tires.

Exterior

It was in 2017 when the Lexus ES got bold with its styling, and it takes a further step in 2019, going longer and lower at the roofline. Sleek, toned, and cohesive, the ES nicely integrates the bold spindle grille, which is tall and pinched in the middle. Big shoulder lines trail toward the shapely LED taillights, while shiny bits glint off the rear doors at the roof pillar. 

On the F Sport, the grille’s chrome slats are eliminated in favor of black mesh, which looks right, especially with the other darkened trim and badging. And there’s a rear spoiler, plus 19-inch alloy wheels, to further state that there’s some performance lurking in this car. Maybe not straight-line speed, but a more aggressive exhaust note and presence in the corners. 

Interior

The sweeping interior lines remind us of old-school Toyota cabins we have loved. The boomerang bend of the center stack, the one-sided droop of the touchscreen, the twisty controls atop the gauge cluster, and the small studs on the dash that are the audio controls, all bring asymmetry we admire. The instruments are sharp and legible, and the textures, especially the optional bamboo trim, are fine. The fit is tight and finish is high. 

Small-item storage is very good, including wireless smartphone charging. The optional acoustic glass creates silence in the cabin. 

Lexus’ Remote Touch uses a touch-sensitive pad next to the gear lever for navigation, audio, climate, and other functions. It’s difficult to use; be prepared to spend time studying its functions. 

Android Auto isn’t available but the 2019 Lexus ES has Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, which means you can give voice commands and add items to your online shopping list.

The synthetic leather upholstery is supple, and the front seats are extremely comfortable, although heating isn’t standard. We clocked more than 700 miles in our testing, and we’d rank the ES up there with Lincoln and Volvo for touring comfort. The F Sport seats are firmer, with thicker bolstering.

The rear seat is spacious and suitable for three adults on medium if not long trips. There’s enough legroom for tall persons, with 39.2 inches. 

The trunk is also roomy, a useful 16.7 cubic feet in both the ES 350 and the ES 300h.

Driving Impressions

The front-wheel-drive ES uses a 3.5-liter V-6 making 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode and paddle shifters. It’s quick enough for a family sedan, able to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds–and more than fast enough, with a top speed of 131 miles per hour. 

There are driving modes, and Sport mode is mostly felt in the transmission, where it will stay in the gears longer. It upshifts near redline, and, like all of them, denies manual downshifts if they would over-rev the engine.

The suspension is a standard front strut and rear multi-link. The ES rides well, absorbing bumps with a good balance of suspension travel and shock damping.

The ES also corners well. It steers with a light touch and doesn’t mind too much if you pick up the pace, although it will wail through its tires if you pick up that pace too much on a twisty road. 

The F Sport cuts out that wailing with its adaptive dampers, 19-inch wheels and tires, more responsive steering, and added Sport+ driving mode that quickens throttle response for powering out of corners. The sport seats keep you planted better, and the piped-in sound makes you feel better. 

The adaptive dampers in the active suspension make the most difference. The setup enables the F Sport to confidently take on an undulating road with dips and crests. The active suspension doesn’t make the ride any less comfortable, either. 

The ES 300h hybrid makes 87 less horsepower and is about 500 pounds heavier, so it’s no surprise that it’s slow. It takes 8.1 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph. 

The top priority for the ES 300h is fuel mileage, so if that also is your top priority, you’ve found a winner in 44 miles per gallon. Not only that, you get a creamy ride, and hardly any more noise in the cabin, despite its harder tires designed for less rolling resistance. 

Final Word

The 2019 Lexus ES hits many high marks on its way to luxury-sedan excellence. It has a great powertrain, lots of luxuriously trimmed interior space, and a hybrid model with exceptional fuel economy.