Review 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport. With the new ES, Lexus has set themselves a pretty difficult task. They’re trying to not only please the existing fans of 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport, but to attract a whole new audience. And to that end, they haven’t just redesigned it to make it look sleeker and more aggressive, they’ve added a whole new trim level the first ever Lexus ES 350 F Sport 2018.
Now, I know that the front end of this Lexus is creating some mixed opinions, but there’s no denying this new car is a lot sleeker looking. The wheelbase has actually also grown about two inches. So we’re going to hop inside and see how that’s affected the interior space and check out the new design.
This Lexus ES 350 F Sport interior has been completely redesigned and it’s a big improvement over the outgoing model. There are a lot of visual cues from Lexus’s higher end cars means there’s just a lot of high end visual touches in here. Also, just the materials have been handled well. Everything’s textured. Everything feels good on your hands. There are some hard plastics around, but all these touch points are covered in quality materials, and it feels more upscale than the outgoing model.
One of the big obvious changes in this car is the new infotainment system. Gone is a little joystick, and now you have this track pad. It’s got its own drawbacks. There are things that I don’t like about using this system. That said, it looks a lot better. This giant screen up here has some sharp graphics. It improves the look of the interior. The other upgrade you get here is Apple CarPlay. For the first time ever, a Lexus has Apple CarPlay. There’s no Android Auto yet. Word is that it’s coming and will be included as a software update. So you don’t have to worry about buying one if it doesn’t have it now, it should in the future. This is the F sport, so there are a few differences in here from the standard car.
These seats are different. The new seats in the standard car are very comfortable. I like them a lot. There’s four way adjustable lumbar, there’s a good amount of padding, and they’re nicely contoured. These seats are a scootch less comfortable, but I’ve still been in them for a couple of hours and I’m pretty happy. I’m way happier than I have been in most other sports buckets.
The seats are also heated and ventilated. All of that is hooked into Lexus’s climate concierge service, which will automatically adjust seat heating and cooling and steering wheel heating, along with the AC. And that’s a good thing, because there are fewer buttons in here. I appreciated in the outgoing model just how many hard buttons there were to control everything so you didn’t have to deal with the infotainment interface. Some of the adjustments here, you have to go through this interface to make them. So having a good automatic climate control system is pretty important. Here in the backseat, I can really see how that extra two inches of wheelbase has paid off. I have a ton of knee room here.
The one issue I have is that if I sit up all the way, my head starts to brush the ceiling. I’m a little tall. I think that most passengers are not going to have an issue with that. I think most adults are going to be pretty happy sitting back here, even on longer drives. Speaking of which, why don’t we find out how it drives? SUVs may be all the rage. We all have heard about Ford saying that they’re not going to make any more sedans. And I think that’s really sad. It’s great that Lexus is still dedicated to making sedans, and this new ES is a good example of why.
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The ride and handling characteristics of this car are just really impressive. For this new ES, the V6 engine makes more power. It now makes 302 horsepower and gets from zero to 60 in an estimated 6.6 seconds. The old six speed automatic has been replaced with a new eight speed unit that also improves fuel economy. The new hybrid gets 15 extra horsepower for a 215 total system, now coming in at 44 miles per gallon combined. That is a really impressive number.
Those standard cars the 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport and the ES 300H– both also get redesigned suspension. There’s some new mechanical trickery there that I’m sure Dan Edmunds would be thrilled to talk to you about at length. I will just cut to the chase and say that it improves both cornering stability and the ride. I always thought the ride in the old ES– once you got onto choppy pavement on the freeway, it just started to feel kind of busy. The F sport gets adaptive suspension. It gets some sound boosting for the exhaust. So you get more of an aggressive exhaust note in the cabin. You get a unique gauge cluster here and a sport plus mode.
The adaptive suspension has really impressed me. It just sort of blows me away. This car handles bumps spectacularly with the adaptive suspension setup. Also, the way that it turns in is really surprising to me. The engineers were talking about how they’re trying to capture more of the feel of a rear drive car. And well, when you get on the accelerator, you can tell this is still a front-wheel drive car.
The way that it pulls and the way it accelerates out of turns the way that the car loads up and the way that it rotates actually feels much more like a rear-wheel drive car. It’s not all wine and roses, though. There is the issue of the eight speed gearbox. In normal driving, it is just fine. There is no problem with it. It’s unobtrusive. It shifts smoothly. It downshifts quickly. But in the F sport when you’re trying to drive aggressively, there’s a little delay. It still wants to upshift. It’s not keeping you in the power band the way that I’d like. And that means that when you try and get on it coming out of a corner, you’ve got to wait for it to downshift.
And that just sort of spoils a little bit of the sporty feel. It’s also shifting with the paddles doesn’t really work. It’s not direct shifting. What you’re doing is selecting the highest gear that you want the car to be in. So the car can still shift underneath that. But when you’re driving the F sport, the attitude of the shifter just doesn’t match that really impressive handling. Lexus has also done a lot of work to make the 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport quieter, on top of improving the ride. There is now sound deadening material absolutely everywhere in this car. There are even optional sound insulating wheels that have a little resonance chamber in the rims to absorb the noise of impact and vibration from the tires. And it all works.
This car is also much quieter than the outgoing car. In keeping with Lexus putting more safety technology in everything, the new ES comes standard with the full suite. You get blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist all standard. And the adaptive cruise control in this new generation can actually bring the car to a complete stop, instead of cutting out at about 25 miles an hour like the old generation did.
Overall, this is a really successful update for the ES. I think the traditional buyer is going to be really happy with everything. As much as I still don’t love this touchpad interface, it’s an improvement over the old system. And Apple CarPlay and hopefully, Android Auto are really nice to have in this car, finally. It’s quieter. It’s more comfortable. The interior materials are nicer and the interior design looks more upscale. I also think the F sport it has some strengths that make it appealing. That adaptive suspension is great. I think that alone is probably worth the cost of entry. But, if you’re looking for a sports sedan outside of that really surprising handling, it still leaves something to be desired.
We don’t have official pricing for the new ES, yet. It should be about the same price as the outgoing model. They’re saying about $39,000 MSRP. So expect it to play in that same range of about 40 to the mid 50s. So 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport is quieter. It’s more comfortable. It’s nicer on the inside. It’s better to drive. The technology has improved, I mean, really in every way.
This is a better car than the outgoing ES. The F Sport handles really well, but that gearbox just holds it back a little bit. We’ll know more when we finally get the new Lexus ES to our test track and do a full rating and review. And then we can give you our final verdict.