Lexus ES: Sixth Generation

Review Roundup: The 2019 Lexus ES 350 & ES 300h

Lexus ES 350 2019

The first reviews of the seventh-generation 2019 Lexus ES sedan are popping up around the Internet — yesteday, I posted an extensive technical overview of the new model, but let’s see some more subjective opinions of the new model.


From the CNET review by Chris Paukert:

None of those metrics really tell you how the new ES feels while generating those numbers, however, but the answer is “pretty darn good.” Lexus makes a big deal about how much sportier this new XV70 generation is to drive than before, and indeed, it breeds driver confidence like no ES before it. That’s particularly true of the F Sport, which not only adds visual drama with a blacked-out mesh grille, unique lower fascias, model-specific wheels, rear spoiler and dark-finish taillights, it also nudges the dynamic quotient upward.

Chiefly, that’s because the ES 350 F Sport is available with Adaptive Variable Suspension derived from the system on the LC Coupe. Lexus says the system features no fewer than 650 individual levels of damping, which helps keep the car level, whether it’s being pitched hard into a corner or negotiating a suburban speed bump. However, the standard ES with its novel new “swing-valve” passive shocks works well, too.


Lexus ES F SPORT

More praise for the ES F SPORT from Tony Swan of Car & Driver:

Although its powertrain is the same as that of the standard ES350, the F Sport feels much more the athlete, thanks primarily to suspension tuning, highlighted by adaptive dampers. Developed by KYB, the new Adaptive Variable Suspension employs damping that responds rapidly to changing road-surface conditions based on multiple presets, and it’s most noticeable in the Sport and Sport+ driving modes. The action is an adaptation of conventional shock technology, with a new internal valving system.

The upshot is an ES sedan with level cornering attitudes, eager responses, and precise, tactile steering, all of which is augmented by 19-inch wheels fitted with available summer performance tires. It adds up to the first ES that can claim to be a sports sedan with somewhat of a straight face.


Will Kaufman of Edmunds is more critical of the ES F SPORT driving experience:

Turn-in is sharp, and the car doesn’t feel front-heavy when you pitch it into a turn. It grips impressively, cornering flat and giving the driver more confidence than seems proper in a Lexus ES. In fact, the F Sport doesn’t remind you it’s a front-wheel-drive car until you get on the gas.

Without a locking front differential, there’s some torque steer under acceleration, and the front tires struggle a bit for grip coming out of a corner. Further, the eight-speed automatic has not be sufficiently retuned from the regular car, and even in Sport+ it’s too quick to upshift. Lift off the gas pedal in a turn and the car has to downshift again when you’re ready for some acceleration.


Lexus ES 300h

Jake Lingeman from Autoweek prefers the ES 300h hybrid over the gas-powered models:

I jump in the hybrid next and, like the new Porsche Panamera, this might be the one to buy. Though it only has 215 hp, off-the-line speed is good with help from the electrics and on the road it’s library quiet. The engine kick-on is almost imperceptible, except when you’re flooring it, which means the 2.5-liter four revs near redline with the CVT adjusting the ratios. That sends a little snarl and vibration into the cabin. At cruising speed though, you could whisper to your passenger next you without a problem.


Alisa Priddle of Motor Trend calls the ES a “joy to drive”:

There is no bad choice. All performed well at absorbing bumps, big and small, and the adjustable dampers kept the car steady even in harder cornering. We were pleased that the F Sport did not share the stiff and rigid ride we’ve experienced with some F Sports in the past. Maybe the marriage of ES comfort and F Sport does find a sweet spot.

The electric power steering, now mounted on the steering rack, was a joy to drive. It was responsive without being too heavy or flighty.

Comments
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krew
One point missing here is that the ES is now a global vehicle, and there are multiple regions around the world where AWD is a very big deal (like up here in Canada and many countries in Europe). If the ES is to replace the GS effectively, it needs to have power to all four wheels both for performance and positioning.

I don't want to hype up the ES F SPORT as this grand performance car, but it's serviceable when looking for an engaging drive -- I think most people on this site will be pleasantly surprised by its ability. And as the person that started Lexus Enthusiast, I would buy an ES F SPORT in a second. :D
True. The Lexus GS is now a global vehicle. But I was more speaking in the context of the US-Market. The US-Market doesn't seem to demand the AWD system and statistics show the take-rate for AWD is low in America as well. I just question how Toyota will profit from introducing AWD ES to the US Market during a time of SUV craze and down-ward sedan trends. I feel like the Lexus ES AWD will get passed up by AWD SUVs in areas where AWD is needed.

In my opinion - the Lexus ES will never replace the GS. Not even with AWD.
Its true. The Lexus ES will be able to put down more power with the extra grip but I would hardly call it performance. If anything, a more powerful ES with a AWD will be a niche sell at best. Majority of core ES buyers won't even consider AWD or more power. Soyfan from Redline stated and I'm summarizing what hes saying here: majority of ES owners won't even floor it to a point where AWD is needed.

Toyota is a heavy business car company. They won't make something unless it draws net profit for share-holders. This is why I think if Toyota can get away without offering AWD, they would.
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Levi
And yet Porsche 718 and 911 get away with this.
True. The Porsche 718 and 911 offer MacPherson struts. I don't like it that it does either. However - the Porsche 718/911 is built differently. Its built so that the disadvantages of the MacPherson doesn't really affect it. We can't say the same about the Lexus ES - you still feel the disadvantages of the MacPherson.

Its how some people say "FWD doesn't stuck at handling because of the Civic Type R." Well - the Type R is built differently compared to other FWD cars.

In your example of the Porsche - we are comparing Apple to Oranges.
L
Sakura
True. The Porsche 718 and 911 offer MacPherson struts. I don't like it that it does either. However - the Porsche 718/911 is built differently. Its built so that the disadvantages of the MacPherson doesn't really affect it. We can't say the same about the Lexus ES - you still feel the disadvantages of the MacPherson.

Its how some people say "FWD doesn't stuck at handling because of the Civic Type R." Well - the Type R is built differently compared to other FWD cars.

In your example of the Porsche - we are comparing Apple to Oranges.
Porsche's could have twigs for a suspension and they likely would still be considered one of the best driving cars around lol.
mikeavelli
Porsche's could have twigs for a suspension and they likely would still be considered one of the best driving cars around lol.
Run of the mill Porsches are way overrated. Are they cool cars to own? Yes. Are they cool cars to drive? Yes. Are they anything more special in driving experience than other small sports cars? Not really. To this day original Boxster remains the crappiest two seater I've ever driven.

I'm not sure why people expect from ES to be anything more than ES that has always been. Sure all those GS replacements cancelation rumors have put the new ES in a though spot but it's still your grandpa's favorite land yacht.
S
Porsche uses struts for better packaging. There's not enough weight in the front to justify a more complex layout. They still make expensive struts out of forged alloy so they are not cheaping out.
It's hard to define what car enthusiasts are. So it can be said that the M5 is not an enthusiast's car. Most of its buyers are similar to the regular luxury buyer, namely successful family in their 50s, but with more budget to spare and more risk taking personalities.
mediumhot
Run of the mill Porsches are way overrated. Are they cool cars to own? Yes. Are they cool cars to drive? Yes. Are they anything more special in driving experience than other small sports cars? Not really. To this day original Boxster remains the crappiest two seater I've ever driven.
If I went by the gushing media articles alone, I'd say that opinion is nuts. By my brief, limited personal experience, I totally see your point and even tend to agree.

For the past 4 or 5 years, I've been a member of SAMA (Southern Automotive Media Association) and, as such, I've been one of the judges of their Topless in Miami event. This is, basically, a day-long drive-and-compare event of whatever convertible and sunroof vehicles the carmakers deign to bring down. In its 2017 iteration, the "High Performance" category consisted of the Porsche 718 Boxster S versus the Jaguar F-Type SVR. It was a no-contest blowout win by the Jaguar, which also got the overall "Convertible of the Year" title. I remember being totally disappointed and underwhelmed by the Boxster, especially its engine sound, which sounded way more like an old, rear-engined VW Beetle with an EMPI aftermarket exhaust (the 60s equivalent of today's Honda Civics with fart can/coffee can aftermarket exhausts) than anything worthy of its price tag. Hopefully, the older, flat-6 Boxsters are more worthy of the hoopla, but the flat-4 718 was a huge disappointment.
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mediumhot
I'm not sure why people expect from ES to be anything more than ES that has always been. Sure all those GS replacements cancelation rumors have put the new ES in a though spot but it's still your grandpa's favorite land yacht.
Definitely agreed! I'm not sure why people expect so much from the ES either. There is so much rumors floating around, especially on CL (secret CL forum reader here), that the ES will have AWD or a new more powerful turbo or V6 engine. It feels like quite a bit of people are predicting a ES F-Sport with AWD and Turbo/high-powered V6.

I feel like majority of this hope or expectation comes from the GS axing rumors. I have seen comments expecting an ES-F, which is insane - no one will probably buy that. But its too hopeful and optimistic to think the ES will ever be a replacement for the GS/GS-F. Like you said - the ES will still be that typical land yacht that the older generations love. They need to make it that way to cater to their mass core demographics of buyers; if they didn't, sales would drop.
R
Great review. Can you talk about the new Lane Tracing Assist(LTA)? How it compares vs propilot, autopilot, etc?
Sakura
Like you said - the ES will still be that typical land yacht that the older generations love.
I dont get which review out of 500 posted, including one by @krew, made you think that ES is still a boat.

I have read and viewed at least 50 reviews, probably more, and I have yet to see a single one that says that ES handles like old generation, like a boat.

krew
I don't want to hype up the ES F SPORT as this grand performance car, but it's serviceable when looking for an engaging drive -- I think most people on this site will be pleasantly surprised by its ability. And as the person that started Lexus Enthusiast, I would buy an ES F SPORT in a second. :D
......
I don't think he meant "land yacht" in the handling sense, but rather in the "big and roomy and plush" sense. No ES ever made has handled as badly as the Detroit big iron that phrase was originally coined for.
reposado
Great review. Can you talk about the new Lane Tracing Assist(LTA)? How it compares vs propilot, autopilot, etc?
Welcome to Lexus Enthusiast, reposado!

LTA isn't a full on self-driving system, it's comparable to Nissan's ProPilot where it will simply attempt to stay in one lane (including around curves and stuff, of course). If I understand correctly it's a bit more robust than the Nissan system in that it can follow a car ahead of you in cases where the road markings are unreadable or unclear but it's otherwise similar.
R
  • R
    RAL
  • June 16, 2018
Welcome aboard! @reposado
Ian Schmidt
I don't think he meant "land yacht" in the handling sense, but rather in the "big and roomy and plush" sense. No ES ever made has handled as badly as the Detroit big iron that phrase was originally coined for.
If you read older ES review, it was certainly almost always called boaty... which new one is not.

Actually, I am pretty sure new ES, especially F-Sport will easily handle better than my 2009 IS... but hey, I am driving ethusiasts RWD while ES drivers are driving a boat :)
S
I like driving the boat. XV40 best boat.
Z
I used to only desire the F-Sports for the aggressive looking front fascia but now that the non-F-sports looking just as aggressive with the LS and the ES but mixed with some of that Lexus elegance, I actually prefer those more and of course the luxury interiors are lightyears ahead of the F-Sport no option interiors.
L
Just out of curiosity what can you not get on an F-sport other than leather and wood trim? I was leaning towards the luxury package on a regular ES but the circuit red in the F-sport is growing on me. I’m now curious about the draw backs of the sport package compared to the luxury/ultra luxury package.
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spwolf
I dont get which review out of 500 posted, including one by @krew, made you think that ES is still a boat.

I have read and viewed at least 50 reviews, probably more, and I have yet to see a single one that says that ES handles like old generation, like a boat.
......
Ian Schmidt
I don't think he meant "land yacht" in the handling sense, but rather in the "big and roomy and plush" sense. No ES ever made has handled as badly as the Detroit big iron that phrase was originally coined for.
Thanks Ian! That is exactly what I meant. I didn't mean it in a "handling" sense. It was just merely a slang for it being a big - comfy car. I didn't say it handles like a land yacht - I just said it was a land yacht. Lol.

Besides - I do agree. The 2018 Toyota Camry XSE and the 2019 Lexus ES handles better than their predecessors did. But that doesn't mean its some handling-king that you put on the mountain roads.

lsu5508
Just out of curiosity what can you not get on an F-sport other than leather and wood trim? I was leaning towards the luxury package on a regular ES but the circuit red in the F-sport is growing on me. I’m now curious about the draw backs of the sport package compared to the luxury/ultra luxury package.
If you opt for the F-Sport, you will only be able to equip the Premium Pack only. You'll be missing on the features given to you by the Luxury Pack and Ultra Luxury Pack because you can't option those.

Its really a decision of - do you want more luxury or more sportiness? For me - I would pick the luxury route. The Lexus ES is not a sports car by any means - so its just more wise, in my opinion, to option the luxury route. Why should I sacrifice the amazing luxury features on a Lexus ES in order to get a Lexus ES F-Sport that isn't even a remotely "sporty".
Sakura
Besides - I do agree. The 2018 Toyota Camry XSE and the 2019 Lexus ES handles better than their predecessors did. But that doesn't mean its some handling-king that you put on the mountain roads.
yeah, so what does that mean?

Re-read krew's review, forget your own preconceived notions about ES, it handles well vs competition, including A6, etc. As I said before, It likely handles way better than my own IS, which is supposedly sporty RWD sedan.
TNGA IS should be fun though :)
Ian Schmidt
TNGA IS should be fun though :)
yeah, problem with old platform was that there is choice they had to make - sport/hard or comfy/boat... with TNGA it does not have to be that black and white, and it is quite cool that Toyota has managed to do that and not VW for instance, that has done platform sharing forever and all of their new vehicles are having this old Toyota problem of comfy vs sport.
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Sakura

Other than leather and wood trim with ambiant lighting I'm not seeing much else you cant option from the luxury and ultra luxury package to the F-sport. Am i missing something? I know those are pretty big pieces but just making sure i understand the limitations.

I really want the more aggressive styling as i really hate the basic grill on the base model ES.
lsu5508
Other than leather and wood trim with ambiant lighting I'm not seeing much else you cant option from the luxury and ultra luxury package to the F-sport. Am i missing something? I know those are pretty big pieces but just making sure i understand the limitations.

I really want the more aggressive styling as i really hate the basic grill on the base model ES.
Looks like Power Trunk open/close and Power Rear Sunshade are the most significant differences between Ultra Luxury & F SPORT, also F SPORT is only available with NuLuxe rather than leather. I wonder if F SPORT will have the ML sound system as an option?

K
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