The fact that the ES is an entryway into the world of Lexus luxury is very telling. While onsite at the Global Launch of the 2019 Lexus ES entry luxury sedan in Nashville, which is now in its 7th generation, I was able to experience Japanese opulence in every astounding aspect from the design evolution to the distinctive interior materials that aim to please the senses. Introduced to the US in 1989, Lexus has been on point with attracting a diverse and extremely loyal consumer base while staying ahead of the curve in the fields of technology and innovation.
My wife was an owner of a 6th generation ES and absolutely loved it. So it’s nice to see where the brand is now with this specific model. Lexus product planners utilized lessons from their flagship LS and applied some of those techniques such as the utilization of premium materials and the attention to detail with the distinctive grille which is tailored for each given model. A few key elements of change between the old and the new include a lowered roofline, a 2” longer wheelbase, an overall longer, lower and wider body and triple-beam LED headlamps. There are a multitude of distinguishing exterior hues to decipher from, three interior colors, four ornamentations and three seat material variations.
Additional design inspiration manifested from micro moments in the typical lifestyle of a Lexus connoisseur such as the timepiece they sport or a tailored dress shirt or maybe a culinary experience incorporating healthy ingredients. Collectively, these pillars of enjoyment produce positive sensations which Lexus wanted to continue in the ES.
It’s a bold and daring strategy but Lexus wants all of their vehicles to emulate the ride quality of both the LS and LC fused which would be pretty amazing being that both represent the upper echelon of satisfaction in their respective fields of play. ES performance stems from the new 3.5-liter DOHC with D-4S and the Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission pairing. The efficient V6 produces 302-horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque while offering up 33 highway MPG. Acceleration in the ES 350 Luxury I drove in Tennessee was perfect for the size and weight of the vehicle and steering inputs from the rack assist powering steering were on point. Though, I would love to see an AWD model to give owners living in inclement weather states better traction options. Lexus says the consideration is under study right now. The hyper-chrome metallic 18” noise reduction rims were wrapped in grippy 235/45 R18 Michelins. Using Drive Mode Select you can set the vehicle in Sport, Normal or Eco from the small rotary dialer. Of course, after initial comparative scenarios I left our Mica Red ES in Sport mode during my drive allocations for the day to create more excitement!
Inside the cabin is where you are introduced to provocative elegance from the Lexus perspective. Centerstage is dominated by the optional 12.3” Electro Multi Vision color display which is designed into the dash so it doesn’t look odd by itself. It’s the nucleus of the ES and houses navigation, apps, audio and communications. My only gripe is the square Remote Touch Pad controller which requires too much time to complete simple tasks. The luxuriant 10-way power adjustable front seats borrowed the two-piece construction of the LS and the paddle shifters are succinctly sculpted to the contour of the steering wheel, also borrowed from the LS. An informational 10.2” color Heads-up Display allows for more focus on the road ahead. Audio comes from either a 10-speaker Pioneer package or the impressive 17-speaker Mark Levinson Pure Play premium surround sound system. Lexus also includes Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Verizon Wi-Fi into the infotainment features. The standard Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 provides you with protection and security by way of Daytime Bicyclist Detection, All-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Road Sign Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Assist and much more.
Lexus loyalists will have a few variants to choose from including the aggressive F Sport edition which is a first for the ES line. In this case the mesh grille with interlocking “Ls” replace the standard grille while adding sporty dual-spoke 19s, rear spoiler, aluminum pedals, exclusive seats designed for lateral support, the F Sport meter and the F Sport Adaptive Variable Suspension that adjusts thousands of times per second. Also, Drive Mode Select adds Custom, Sport S and Sport S+. But keep in mind the enhancements are mostly cosmetic with no additional power. Enthusiasts of special edition models definitely enjoy increased horses, bigger brakes and engaging exhaust systems so hopefully we see this in the future.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the economic ES 300h Ultra Luxury model with an impressive 46 highway MPG which currently ranks as the luxury hybrid leader. Its new 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder is smooth, quiet and pretty strong in acceleration while producing 215 total horsepower. You can also set the hybrid in Sport mode. Braking was pretty soft however. The hybrid features the classier vertical grille and reflectors in place of the executive tailpipes. Lexus cleverly placed the nickel-metal hydride battery under the rear seats opposed to in the trunk which increased storage to 16.7 cubic feet. My vehicle also had the Qi wireless charger and two USBs in the rear.
The fan loyalty of the ES has always been a key staple of the nameplate’s success with 2.18 million units sold since inception. Going on sale in September expect pricing to stay similar to the current model of $39,000. Lexus expects roughly 25% of ES purchases to stem from the F Sport and 15% from the hybrid.