Luxury Car Best Buy of 2019
- Seventh-generation ES is all-new for 2019
- Distinctive “Provocative Elegance” styling
- Luxurious and more spacious 5-passenger cabin
- Library-quiet interior
- Available in standard, hybrid and F Sport trims
- Pricing starts at $40,525 (including $1,025 destination charge) | Price yours
- On sale now | See ES models for sale near you
The Newcomer Takes the Title
A proverbial tip of the hat to Lexus, as its all-new ES has earned the Kelley Blue Book Luxury Sedan Best Buy of 2019 award. Completely redesigned from the ground up, the 7th-generation sedan is built on the company’s Global Architecture-K platform. Compared to its predecessor, the 2019 Lexus ES is longer, lower, and wider, which translates to a more comfortable and stable ride and a more spacious interior. And, its all-new styling — prominently displaying the signature Lexus spindle grille — evokes “provocative elegance,” says the company’s chief designer. “This is a big step forward for Lexus,” remarked one of our judges. “The exterior styling is bold without being over the top and the overall package offers plenty of room and comfort.”
Luxury Everywhere you Look
To earn our Luxury Sedan accolade, the passenger cabin must be roomy, comfortable, quiet, and loaded with amenities. The Lexus ES checks off each of those boxes, and more. Intended to “blend a driver-centric cockpit with spacious and comfortable areas for the passengers,” ES designers exhaustively ensured that everything the driver needs is within reach and all information is in view. An ultra-sharp LCD primary instrument display and an optional head-up display -- the largest in the luxury segment -- guarantee that the operator doesn’t have to look far for speed, fuel level, speed limit signs, and navigation instructions. While we still aren’t 100 percent convinced that the touchpad infotainment controls are optimal, we were wowed by the big, clear screens. “Love the epic wide-screen dash display,” read one of the notes.
Driver and front passenger enjoy standard 10-way power front seats (14-way seats are optional), with available heating and cooling functions. The ergonomically-shaped steering wheel, which may be configured with an optional wood rim, is pulled directly from the company’s flagship LS sedan. Standard upholstery is soft perforated NuLuxe, a long-wearing synthetic, with leather and premium semi-aniline perforated leather optional. The sportier F Sport models, configured with driving enthusiasts in mind, feature unique front seats with special upholsteries.
Rear seat passengers enjoy a very roomy second row – class leading legroom – with expanded headroom compared to the outgoing model. Those in the second row also enjoy dedicated vents, dual USB ports, and a 12-volt outlet. Door bins have been designed to accommodate 20-ounce drink bottles or a 9.7-inch tablet. The roominess of the passenger cabin was a major deciding factor in the win. The second row drew many compliments, especially from the taller crowd. “Great room – at six-foot five inches tall, I could sit behind myself.”
Refined Powertrains to Suit Everyone’s Needs
The front-wheel-drive Lexus ES 350 is offered with two different engine choices. Standard models are fitted with an updated 3.5-liter V6 rated at 302 horsepower (34 horsepower more than its predecessor). Last year’s 6-speed automatic has been replaced with an efficient 8-speed automatic with a wider spread of gears to improve acceleration and fuel economy – refinements deliver estimates of 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 26 mpg in combined driving.
Those seeking even more efficiency will choose the ES 300h, which boasts a hybrid powertrain. At its core is an all-new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine that squeezes out 20 more horsepower than last year’s engine. Mated to an electric motor, it provides a combined total of 215 horsepower. The front wheels of the hybrid are driven by an electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that has been refined to improve its responsiveness. “The ES 300h launches quick and clean from a standstill, and the CVT — not typically my first choice in gearboxes — hides itself well,” said one of the judges. And, to free truck space for the all-new model, Lexus moved the nickel-metal hydride battery from the trunk to beneath the rear seat.
Dynamic Control shocks, tuned to further reduce body roll in corners, provide a smooth and comfortable ride on the ES 350 and ES 300h models — the sedan rides better than ever before (“Library quiet, with a surprisingly good ride from the harder, low-rolling-resistance Michelins,” reads one note). The sporty F Sport boasts Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) in place of the Dynamic Control shocks to provide even more precise control of the ride, which should please enthusiasts.
Luxury comes first
Pushing the technological envelope, yet never forgetting its luxury mission, the new ES is the culmination of nearly two decades of evolution. The completely redesigned sedan neatly blends comfort with a newfound liveliness in the performance department. The Lexus is quiet and comfortable and has all the amenities you’d could ask for, but also, it impresses with its road manners — the steering is direct without being heavy, there’s plenty of ride compliance without a lot of body roll and the powertrain has a certain eagerness to it. Overall, this is a big step forward for Lexus, the exterior styling is bold without being over the top and the package offers plenty of room and comfort. The 2019 Lexus ES fully looks, acts, and delivers the polished performance expected of a luxury car.
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