The Lexus ES gets redesigned for 2019 and offers more safety features, better fuel efficiency and livelier performance than the outgoing model, especially with the addition of the new F Sport package. But while the ES boasts a smooth ride and a quiet, upscale and roomy cabin, there’s nothing that really makes it pop out in the super competitive luxury midsize sedan segment. And unfortunately, it has a very frustrating infotainment system.
The five-passenger 2019 ES is available with a gas-powered engine, the ES 350, and a hybrid, the ES 300h. The base models are well equipped and you can add one of four packages and select from several options to customize your vehicle. The packages are Premium, Luxury, Ultra Luxury and F Sport. Starting prices for the gas-powered models range from $39,600 to $44,135. Starting prices for the hybrid are $41,410 to $45,060. The ES is front-wheel-drive.
The 2019 ES is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 302 horsepower (up from 268 horses in 2018) and 267 pound-feet of torque. There’s a new eight-speed transmission that replaces the outgoing six-speed.
These changes lead to peppier performance than the outgoing model. The ES is quicker off the line and there’s plenty of power for most driving situations including merging and passing at freeway speeds. However, the new eight-speed can be a little pokey when downshifting. The ride is very smooth with bumps and rough roads barely noticeable.
My tester has the F Sport Package with its sport-tuned suspension system. Yes, it does have get up and go and is pretty responsive but it’s not really a sport sedan. All in all, the ES is more about comfort than athletic prowess so if you crave sporty handling, this will not be your first choice. If you want a comfortable cruiser, the ES delivers!
Fuel efficiency is a bit better than the outgoing model. EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a combined rating of 25 mpg. I got 25 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is luxurious, spacious and library-quiet. Materials look and feel good. The seats are comfortable and supportive. Passengers in both rows of seating will enjoy good leg- and headroom, and the backseat even accommodates taller adults comfortably.
The major flaw is the Remote Touch infotainment system. The larger screen looks good but the interface is not at all user-friendly. It’s a mouse-like touch pad located between the two front seats. As someone who test drives a new car every week, I’m pretty good at figuring out infotainment systems. But this system is confusing and not intuitive. In fact, I find it to be extremely distracting and don’t use it while driving. Instead, I rely on the buttons, knobs, steering wheel-mounted controls and voice controls to do things like adjust volume and make phone calls. However, some controls, including some audio settings, no longer have physical buttons so you are forced to interact with the infotainment system. Very frustrating!
Lexus has finally joined other automakers in offering Apple CarPlay. The 2019 ES is the first Lexus product to offer it. The ES is also Amazon Alexa-enabled, so drivers with Android phones can use natural language commands to control several functions.
Standard features on all ES models include rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, moonroof, eight-inch infotainment display, three USB ports, 10-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, CD player, HD Radio, satellite radio, Wi-Fi hot spot, voice commands, Siri Eyes Free, Google Voice Control, and smartphone integration compatible with Amazon Alexa.
The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is also standard with several driver assistance technologies including adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, lane tracing assist, pre-collision system, oncoming vehicle detection, low light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, road sign assist, parking support alert and automatic high beams.
Available features include 360-degree camera system, leather seating, semi-aniline leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, driver’s seat memory, panoramic sunroof, Mark Levinson audio system, navigation, a 12.3-inch display, Apple CarPlay, smartphone wireless charging, power rear sunshade, manual rear-door sunshades, blind spot monitoring, head-up display, parking sensors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The ES has a large trunk for a midsize sedan with 16.7 cubic feet of storage. An optional hands-free trunk lid is available that lets you open the trunk by swinging your foot.
Better fuel efficiency
Super smooth ride
Upscale, roomy and super quiet cabin
Confusing infotainment system too distracting to use safely while driving
Rivals offer better driving dynamics
My tester starts at $44,035. Adaptive variable suspension is $750. Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and intuitive parking assist with auto braking is $1,065. Wireless charger is $75. Triple beam Led headlights are $1,515. The upgraded navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package is $3,000 and includes a navigation system with 12.3-inch color multimedia display, apple CarPlay, Lexus Enform dynamic navigation for the first three years of ownership, dynamic voice command, Lexus Enform destination Assist (complimentary for the first year of ownership), auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, and Mark Levinson PurePlay 17 speaker, 1,800-watt premium surround sound audio system. Hands-free power open/close trunk is $550. Premium paint is $595. Delivery fee is $1,025 bringing the grand total to $52,610.
If you want a well-appointed luxury midsize sedan that’s more about comfort than performance, the 2019 Lexus ES is sure worth a look. That is, if you can put up with that frustrating infotainment system.