The 2019 Lexus ES promises to be both sedate and sporty.
Beneath its sleek, toned shape the 2019 Lexus ES has a split personality as it seeks to court a wider range of luxury sedan shoppers.
Base ES 350 and hybrid ES 300h models prioritize traditional Lexus virtues like a plush ride and extensive sound deadening for a coddling demeanor. The wild uncle of the lineup is the new ES 350 F Sport, which actually pipes in more engine noise and features adaptive dampers for what Lexus says will be a sportier personality—something the ES has never had in the model’s nearly three decades on the market.
The 2019 ES, regardless of outlook on life, is a couple of inches longer than its predecessor at nearly 196 inches from bumper-to-bumper. Its roofline looks lower because it is, about a quarter inch compared to last year’s model. Its shape is sinewy but cohesive, perhaps the best integration yet of Lexus’ polarizing “spindle” grille design.
If the new ES’ silhouette recalls the Toyota Camry, that’s no accident. It rides on a version of the 2018 Camry’s front-wheel-drive platform, although the Lexus’ wheelbase is almost an inch longer and its overall length stretches about three inches compared to the Toyota.
ES 350 and ES 300h variants ride on standard 17- or optional 18-inch alloy wheels, while F-Sports jazz things up with a special body kit and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the ES features more technology—Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, but not Android Auto—and a clean, horizontal design. An 8.0-inch display for infotainment takes up residence on the ES’ dashboard, but an upsized 12.3-inch unit serves as an upgrade on models fitted with optional navigation. A laptop-like track pad sits next to the gear lever to control the infotainment software, although Lexus is more generous with redundant hard buttons for audio and climate functions than some rivals.
Despite its lower roofline, Lexus says that the 2019 ES has a hair more rear-seat head room thanks to a reconfigured headliner.
The ES 350 F Sport gets its own interior touches with a 3-D textured aluminum trim in place of three different choices of wood paneling available in the ES 350 and ES 300h.
All versions of the 2019 ES will come with adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking that can recognize pedestrians and cyclists.
Though the ES 350 F Sport has sporting pretensions, its front-wheel-drive architecture may make it a hard sell against rear- and all-wheel-drive rivals. As its name suggests, the 350 badge refers to a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, healthy upgrades of 34 hp and 19 lb-ft over the 2018 model. An 8-speed automatic shuttles power forward.
In addition to its adaptive dampers, the ES 350 F-Sport features a Sport+ mode that tightens up its steering and improves throttle response, Lexus says.
The ES 300h features a 2.5-liter inline-4 paired to an electric motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery tucked under the rear seat, good for 215 combined horsepower. The more important figure here is 44 mpg, the combined fuel economy estimate Lexus hopes to achieve when the ES 300h is officially EPA-rated.
Lexus says it will detail pricing and optional equipment closer to the 2019 ES’ on-sale date in September.