The Lexus ES 350 has been completely redesigned for 2019. It’s longer, lower and wider than the previous model and it has a couple of Lexus firsts: it’s the first Lexus to support Apple CarPlay and it’s the first Lexus with an available F SPORT trim.
For 2019 Lexus stiffened the ES 350 chassis and pushed the wheels closer to the corners as part of the company’s new Lexus Global Architecture platform, giving the car surefooted performance.
Lexus puts a powerful 3.5-liter V6 in the new ES 350. The engine develops an impressive 302 horsepower and sends 267 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels. The transmission is a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic. Lexus says the ES 350 can get to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 6.6 seconds and is electronically limited to a top track speed of 131 mph.
The 2019 ES 350 comes in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Ultra Luxury and my test car for the week, the F SPORT. It is the first Lexus to be available as an F SPORT, which adds sporty character through exterior styling, unique 19-inch wheels with upgraded tires, a sport steering wheel, paddle shifters, specially tuned suspensions and upgraded brakes.
The base ES 350 starts at $39,600, the Luxury trim starts at $42,255, the Ultra Luxury starts at $43,250 and the F SPORT starts at $44,135 (a hybrid version is available starting at $41,410 and topping out at $45,060).
The ES 350 promises to take you 22 miles through city streets or 33 miles down the highway on a single gallon of gasoline. Even better, the ES 350 runs on regular 87 octane gas. If you opt for the F SPORT, you’ll get 2 fewer miles per gallon on the highway, but the same mileage in the city. The ES 350 has a slippery 0.29 coefficient of drag and the F SPORT is even slipperier at 0.26.
I enjoyed tooling around town and up through the Felicianas during my test week with the new ES 350. It was flat in hard corners, stable in sweeping turns and it had plenty of juice for passing big rigs and slow drivers on country two-lanes. Steering was precise and on-center, and braking was excellent.
The roomy ES 350 cabin is high end and Lexus quiet. Seats are comfortable and supportive, preventing fatigue on long-distance treks. Front seat headroom is 37.5 inches (with moonroof) and rear seat headroom is actually a little higher at 37.8 inches. Legroom in back is generous at 39.2 inches.
The base ES 350 trim has a nice package of standard equipment including LED headlights, dual-zone air, a moonroof, an 8-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, navigation, Wi-Fi, three USB ports and 10-speaker Lexus sound. Real leather seating surfaces start with the Luxury trim, so that’s the one I’d pick.
The 12-inch navigation display is fantastic, and the voice recognition system works well. I’m a big fan of heads-up display systems and the ES 350 has one of the bigger and better ones on the market.
The one knock I have with the ES 350, and it’s a significant one, is with the infotainment interface. I found the touchpad awkward and finnicky, which kept my eyes off the road too much. If you love your laptop, you’ll probably like the touchpad better. There are lots of buttons and switches that might be better consolidated, so I’d recommend getting familiar with the voice command system. Apple CarPlay is now supported, but not Android Auto.
When it comes to safety, though, this car really shines. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it a top “Safety Pick Plus” award, which is the highest safety award given by the insurance industry. Also, the government gives the car five overall safety stars. Sophisticated safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and departure warnings, forward collision mitigation and automatic high beams.
Auto writers from around the country have been impressed with the new ES 350. “In just about every way, it’s a better car than before,” according to Edmunds.com. And the sedan won first place in the mid-size luxury car category at the 2019 Texas Auto Roundup presented by the Texas Auto Writers Association back in April.
The 2019 Lexus ES 350 is built in Kentucky and is available in dealerships now.
2019 Lexus ES 350 F SPORT
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 302/267 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/paddle shifters
Price: $44,035 ($52,904 loaded w/options & freight)
EPA Mileage Estimates: 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway/25 mpg combined
Estimated Highway Range: 493 miles