The 2019 Lexus ES 350 & ES 300h: A Technical Review

ES AND PROUD

Last week, Lexus Enthusiast Editor Kevin Watts traveled to Nashville to test drive the all-new 2019 Lexus ES 350 & ES 300h hybrid. Here is a full technical overview of the new sedan, Kevin’s personal impressions will be posted next week.

It’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance of the ES sedan to the Lexus lineup. The LS may be the flagship sedan, but the ES has been the brand’s mainstream workhorse from the very beginning, with 2.18 million global sales since 1989.

The DNA of the ES sedan has always been comfort, ride quality, and spaciousness — an accessible sedan built with everyday luxury in mind. With the introduction of the latest iteration, Lexus wants to bring the car to life, bringing a serious design upgrade and adding an interesting boost in performance with the very first ES F SPORT.

As we prepare to read first drive reviews from journalists around the world, let’s dig deep into the facts with an extensive technical overview of the seventh-generation Lexus ES.

Exterior Design


Designed in Japan, the central theme of the seventh-generation Lexus ES is Provocative Elegance — here’s the progression from early sketches to the final production model:

Lexus ES Early Design Sketch
Lexus ES Design Sketch
Lexus ES Production Model

In front, the standard ES 350 & ES 300h have a grille of vertical bars that echo the design of the Lexus spindle grille:

Lexus ES Front Grille

The side profile has a lower stance than the outgoing model, with a coupish angle similar to the LS flagship — Lexus calls this the “Human Centered Silhouette”:

Lexus ES Side Profile

We can rotate through the design of the ES, ES Hybrid, and ES F SPORT with this CGI video:

Platform

At the core of the seventh-generation ES sedan is the all-new GA-K platform:

Lexus ES GL-K Platform

Compared to the current model, the new ES is longer by 2.6-inches, lower by 0.2-inches, and wider by 1.8-inches. The wheelbase has been extended by 2.0-inches, with the tracks widened by 0.4-inches in the front and 1.5-inches in the rear:

Lexus ES Dimensions

Here’s a short video illustrating the differences in size between the new ES and the current model:

Aerodynamics

The front bumper has been shaped to allow air to pass along the sides of the vehicle, while the aero stabilizing fins in the door frame molding and rear combination lamps improve stability — combined with the rear spoiler, the new ES can achieve a 0.26 co-efficient of drag:

Lexus ES Aerodynamics

Lighting

The 2019 ES will come standard with bi-LED headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights:

Lexus ES Standard Headlights

Available triple-beam LED headlamps use three compact bi-LED units and an adaptive front-lighting system that angles the lights based on steering input. LED turn signals and side marker lamps are also part of the upgrade:

Lexus ES Triple Lamp Headlights

The full-LED rear combination lamps feature a three-dimensional layered L-shaped design:

Lexus ES Rear Combination Lamps

Panoramic Moonroof

A Panoramic Moonroof is an available upgrade, with a front glass panel that opens externally and slides to the rear:

Lexus ES Panoramic Moonroof

A mesh wind deflector reduces wind noise when the front panel is open, and power-retractable shades help diffuse sunlight inside the cabin.

Wheels

The standard ES will be available with three wheel designs, including an available 18-inch noise-reducing wheel that uses a hollow section in the rim to resonate with the air in the tires, causing friction and converting sound waves to heat:

Lexus ES Standard Wheels

Hands-Free Power Trunk

Trunk space has increased by 1.5 cubic feet in the new ES, for a total of 16.7 cubic feet in both the gas & hybrid models. An available hands-free power trunk can be opened and closed by kicking under the rear bumper while carrying the smart key:

Lexus ES Power Trunk

Exterior Colors

The ES 350 & ES 300h will be available in 10 different exterior colors:

Lexus ES Colors

They are, in order with their color codes: Eminent White (085), Silver Lining Metallic (1J4), Atomic Silver (1J7), Nebula Gray Pearl (1H9), Obsidian (212), Caviar (223), Nightfall Mica (8X5), Matador Red Mica (3R1), Sunlit Green (6X0), and Moonbeam Beige Metallic (4X8).

Interior Design


Lexus ES Interior Design

The ES interior is split into two distinct zones — the driver’s side (red) is centered on easy access to all functionality, while the passenger’s side (blue) is focused on comfort and much simpler in design:

Lexus ES Interior Zones

Seating

Like the LS flagship, the ES has a two-part seating design that aligns with the armrests:

Lexus ES Seating Design

With the lower vehicle profile, the seating position has been pushed down to improve driving visibility:

Standard are 8-way power front driver and passenger seats, with an available 10-way power driver’s seat that adds lumbar and cushion length adjustment. Rear passengers can expect 39.2-inches of legroom:

Lexus ES Rear Legroom

(Some markets outside of North America will get rear temperature controls along with adjustable seat backs — expect to hear more about that shortly.)

Steering Wheel

The 3-spoke steering wheel is shared with the new LS flagship, and like the LS, the optional heated steering wheel provides warmth to the entire rim. A steering touch sensor has also been integrated to accurately detect the driver’s grip while Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is operating.

Lexus ES Steering Wheel

Interior Colors

There are three interior colors available with the ES 350 & ES 300h: Chateau, Flaxen, and Black. All three are offered in NuLuxe, leather (with the Luxury package), and semi-aniline leather (with the Ultra-Luxury package):

Lexus ES Chateau Interior
Lexus ES Flaxen Interior
Lexus ES Black Interior

Striated Black is the standard trim, with Linear Dark Mocha wood, Linear Espresso wood, and Matte Bamboo available as options:

Lexus ES Trim Options

Meters & Instrumentation

The standard instrument panel features a 7-inch TFT LCD screen in a circular surround, with an additional multi-information display to the left of the main speed/tachometer display. Optitron-type meters are used for the water temperature and fuel gauges:

Lexus ES Instrument Panel

Heads Up Display

An available 10.2-inch color Heads-Up Display (HUD) displays a range of information onto the bottom of the windshield glass, including road speed, engine speed (rpm), gear selection, local speed limit, and other data relevant to the driver.

Lexus ES Heads Up Display

The Thin Film Transistor (TFT) backlit optical lens has a maximum brightness of 13,000 candela per square meter, and projects the image a virtual 8.2-feet ahead of the windshield.

Infotainment

A 12.3-inch multimedia display will be standard on all ES models, with navigation-equipped models offering dynamic directions by combining the on-board point-of-interest database with off-board (cloud-based) data:

Lexus ES Navigation

Apple CarPlay will be offered for the first time in a Lexus vehicle, making it easy for users to interact with iPhone-supported apps through the multimedia display. CarPlay will be available on navigation-equipped vehicles at launch, with non-navigation-equipped vehicles getting the functionality after October 1st:

Lexus ES CarPlay

In addition to CarPlay, the ES will be the first Lexus model to offer in-car access to the Amazon Alexa voice service — here’s a video detailing the functionality:

(The service will be available on Android devices at launch, with iOS following later in the fall. Some Amazon Alexa features will require an ES equipped with the Navigation system and an active subscription to Lexus Enform. )

A Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger is an available option:

Lexus ES Qi Charger

Climate Controls

The North America-spec ES will feature two-zone automatic climate control using toggle-switches in the upper dash:

Lexus ES Climate Control

Lexus Climate Concierge is available for the first time in the ES — when activated, the system combines seat heating, HVAC and steering wheel heating (if equipped) to achieve the driver’s selected temperature.

Lexus ES Climate Concierge

Interior Illumination

LEDs are used for all interior illumination, with special attention given to nighttime ambient lighting:

Lexus ES Interior Illumination

Sound Systems

An 8-channel 10-speaker Pioneer audio system with a 296 W amplifier is the standard kit:

Lexus ES Pioneer Sound System

The audio upgrade comes in the form of a 12-channel 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system with a 1800 W digital amplifier:

Lexus ES Mark Levinson Sound System

ES 350 Powertrain


Under the hood of the 2019 ES 350 is a 2GR-FKS 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 with intake VVT-iW and exhaust VVT-i, rated at 302 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm and 267 lb.ft. of torque @ 4,700 rpm:

Lexus ES 350 Engine Specs
The 0-60 time is an estimated 6.6 seconds, with an manufacturer-estimated fuel economy (US MPG, city/highway/combined) of 22/33/26 for the ES 350 and 22/31/25 for the ES 350 F SPORT when running the recommended 87 octane fuel.

The ES 350 V6 is paired with a Direct Shift-8AT automatic transmission with a newly developed torque converter and multi-plate lock up clutch that Lexus claims has “has the direct feel of a dual clutch design along with the off-the-line smoothness of a traditional torque converter automatic”:

Lexus ES Transmission

The 8-speed Direct Shift transmission has a wider range of ratios designed to return improved mileage and more responsive performance:

Lexus ES Gear Ratios

ES 300h Powertrain


The gasoline portion of the ES 300h is the new A25A-FXS 2.5-liter DOHC direct injection Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder with intake VVT-iW and exhaust VVT-i, an engine that was a WardsAuto 10 Best Engines winner in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. It’s rated at 176 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm, for a total of 215 horsepower when combined with the hybrid tech:

Lexus ES 300h Hybrid Engine

The manufacturer-estimated fuel economy (mpg, city/highway/combined) for the ES 300h is 44/45/44 mpg using the recommended 87 octane fuel. The hybrid system can now deactivate the gas engine at speeds up to 75 mph (120 km/h), up from the previous system that was limited to 47 mph (75 km/h).

By reducing the size of the control circuit board and developing a new power stack, Lexus engineers have made the ES 300h Power Control Unit (PCU) 9% smaller and 22% lighter than the previous model — this allows the PCU to be mounted immediately above the transaxle:

Lexus ES Hybrid Power Control Unit

An all-new hybrid transaxle switches from coaxial arrangement of MG1 (power generation) and MG2 (drive) to a multi-axial arrangement, reducing overall length by 30mm and overall weight by 15%. The improved design also benefits from a change to a parallel shaft gear in place of the conventional planetary gear:

Lexus ES Hybrid Transaxel

The size of the nickel-metal hydride battery has been reduced, allowing it to be placed under the rear seats instead of the trunk — this increases the ES 300h’s trunk space to match the gas-powered model, while optimizing weight distribution and lowering the vehicle center of gravity:

Lexus ES Hybrid Battery

Auto Glide Control

Engineers have added something called Auto Glide Control to the ES 300h ECO mode that can automatically decelerate at a level comparable to coasting in neutral — in effect, built-in hypermilling functionality:

Lexus ES Auto Glide

Suspension & Chassis


The ES uses a MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension with integrated trailing arm, both using newly developed Dynamic Control Shocks:

Lexus ES Dynamic Control Shocks

Dynamic Control Shocks generate a damping force with a non-overlapping auxiliary valve that allows damper oil to flow in either direction before entering the main valve. This action can absorb the feedback from rougher roads and smooth out the overall ride.

A new 4-point engine mounting system has utilized, with front and rear mounts installed to a vibration-dampening sub-frame, while the right and left mounts are installed to side members:

Lexus ES Engine Mounts

Vacuum-controlled hydraulic engine mounts are used for the front and rear mounts on V6 models, which allows for variable dampening depending on driving conditions.

The new ES is approximately 137 pounds (62 kg) lighter than the current model due to the greater use of lightweight materials and thinner outer panels:

Lexus ES Lightweight

To improve rigidity, Lexus engineers included a closed cowl and suspension tower brace, a ring structure with a V-brace that reinforces the area behind the rear seats, and a spot welded gusset to join the roof crossmember and outer rail:

Lexus ES Rigidity

A total of 65 ft. (19.94m) of structural adhesive and 160 laser screw welds have been used throughout the new ES to improve overall rigidity:

Lexus ES Laser Screw & Adhesive

The interior and exterior of the floorboard has been coated with sound dampening materials, bringing the noise reduction up to 93% from the 75% rating of the previous generation:

Lexus ES Sound

The ES 300h hybrid gets additional padding at the firewall designed to absorb and reflect typical hybrid sounds:

Lexus ES 300h Padding

Included with the Ultra Luxury and F SPORT packages are performance dampers at the front and rear of the vehicle, which absorb energy from the chassis for improved handling stability and ride comfort while reducing noise from vibration:

Lexus ES Performance Dampers

Brakes

Every model shares the same standard 4-wheel disc brakes with ventilated front and solid rear discs, measuring as such:

  • Front: 12.01 inches (305mm) x 1.10 inches (28mm)
  • Rear: 11.06 inches (281mm) x 0.47 inches (12mm)

Safety


The ES will debut the new Lexus Safety System + 2.0, which borrows from the advanced technologies introduced with the LS flagship — here’s a comparison with the previous safety suite:

Lexus Safety System Plus 2.0

Many of these safety features have been covered in great detail previously, so let’s focus on newer technologies like Lane Trace Assist:

The Pre-Collision System now includes nighttime pedestrian and daytime bicyclist detection, and Road Sign Assist uses the front camera to detect road signs and display them on the multi-information display and Heads-Up Display:

Lexus ES Road Sign Assist

All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

The ES now includes All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) that will maintain vehicle-to-vehicle distance all the way to a stop:

Lexus ES Dynamic Cruise Control

DRCC also includes a new feature called “blinker-linked” control — when following a vehicle traveling slower than the set speed, signaling a lane change will initiate acceleration to assist with passing. This kicks in at speeds of 70 km/h (44 mph) or greater, and will not activate if there is a car in the passing lane.

Panoramic View Monitor

Also available is the Panoramic View Monitor, which displays the ES surroundings on the multimedia display by using cameras installed the front, the left and right outer mirrors, and the rear:

Lexus ES Panoramic View Monitor

There are five different modes to choose from:

  • Panoramic and Wide Front View provides a 180-degree view ahead of the vehicle using the front camera.
  • Panoramic and Side Clearance View uses images from the front & side cameras to show the vehicle from above and behind.
  • Panoramic and Cornering View displays an image from the rear of the vehicle to assist while cornering.
  • See-Through View is a rotating eye-level view around the car, as if the ES was fully transparent.
  • Moving View displays a rotating bird’s eye image.

Finally for safety, there are 10 standard air bags inside the ES:

Lexus ES Air Bags

F SPORT Package


Starting with the exterior, the ES F SPORT features a mesh front grille with a black chrome surround:

Lexus ES F SPORT Front

The black chrome accents continue to the rear trunklid, which also includes a standard rear spoiler:

Lexus ES F SPORT Rear

The F SPORT package includes 19-inch cast alloy wheels with a 235/40R19 tire:

Lexus ES F SPORT Wheels

There will be eight color choices with the ES F SPORT:

Lexus ES F SPORT Colors

They are, in order with color codes: Ultra White (083), Silver Lining Metallic (1J4), Atomic Silver (1J7), Nebula Gray Pearl (1H9), Obsidian (212), Caviar (223), Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 (8X1), and Matador Red Mica (3R1).

Adaptive Variable Suspension

Lexus has included an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with the ES F SPORT package, which controls the damping force of the shock absorbers on all four wheels in response to driving operations and road surface conditions:

Lexus ES F SPORT Adaptive Variable Suspension

Interior Design

Inside, the ES F SPORT feature the same perforated leather steering wheel found in the LS F SPORT & LC coupe:

Lexus ES F SPORT Interior

The 8-inch TFT instrument cluster with movable ring is the same design shared with all Lexus F SPORT models:

Lexus ES F SPORT Gauge

The front seats in the ES F SPORT are inspired by the optional performance seats in the LC coupe:

Lexus ES F SPORT Seats

Unlike a traditional seat where a molded foam pad is covered with upholstery, the ES F SPORT seat shell is set into the mold and then filed with foam — this allows for a more aggressive design that provides better lateral support.

Interior Colors

For interior colors, there’s a choice between either Black or Circuit Red NuLuxe:

Lexus ES F SPORT Black NuLuxe
Lexus ES F SPORT Circuit Red NuLuxe

Also exclusive to the ES F SPORT is the Hadori aluminum trim, inspired by the polishing technique used on Japanese katana blades:

Lexus ES Hadori Trim
Lexus ES Hadori Closeup

Packages

There will be four packages available — Premium, Luxury, Ultra Luxury, and F SPORT:

Lexus ES Premium Package
Lexus ES Luxury Package
Lexus ES Ultra Luxury Package
Lexus ES F SPORT Package

Individual Options

• Wood-trimmed steering wheel • Heated wood-trimmed steering wheel • F SPORT steering wheel (F SPORT only) • F SPORT steering wheel with heating (F SPORT only) • Adaptive Variable Suspension (F SPORT only) • Wood interior trim • Panoramic sunroof • Hands free power trunk lid • Triple beam LED headlights with Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) • Power rear sunshade • Head Up Display • Mark Levinson audio • Navigation (12.3-inch display) • Navigation + Mark Levinson audio • Qi wireless charging pad • Blind spot monitor • Park assist sonar • Park assist sonar with pedestrian detection and panoramic view monitor • 18-inch wheels with machine finish • 18-inch noise reduction wheels with hyper chrome finish