What the experts say about the 2019 Lexus ES

New for 2019, the latest generation of the Lexus ES advances the mid-size sedan into a bolder realm among pricier competitors. The latest from Toyota’s luxury division also comes as a hybrid and adds a more athletic, F Sport version.

Longer, lower, and wider than before, the ES gets a sleek, coupe-like silhouette that pushes the wheels closer to the corners for sportier driving dynamics. The ES350 base model and F Sport run on a new 3.5-liter V6 that generates 302 horsepower, 34 more than the previous version. The hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and an electric motor for total output of 215 horsepower. The ES F Sport gets a sport-tuned suspension, as well as a mesh grille with dark chrome trim, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler.

Inside, the newest model boasts more legroom and trunk space. Even the hybrid gets a roomier rear due to its smaller, redesigned battery. All models come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Heated and ventilated seats are available. Cars with the F Sport treatment come with a “driver-focused” interior featuring an 8-inch display screen, F Sport front seats, and the series’s signature analog clock.

The 2019 Lexus ES received top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The sedan comes standard with Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, the automaker’s suite of advanced safety features including lane-departure assist and a pre-collision system that can detect bicyclists.

The ES350 delivers 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Highway estimates fall to 31 mpg for F Sport models. The 300h achieves 43 mpg around town and 46 mpg on the highway.

The 2019 Lexus ES350 begins at $39,600. The F Sport and hybrid versions start at $44,135 and $41,410, respectively.

What the experts are saying

Sleeker look

“The Lexus ES has always been a bit of an outlier, offering a more affordable but less dynamic alternative to mid-size luxury competitors. The new generation keeps the relatively low cost of entry while improving dramatically over the outgoing model. The strong V6 and efficient hybrid powertrains remain on offer, but the 2019 model comes with a sleeker design, more luxurious cabin, and improvements to both ride quality and handling characteristics. The 2019 ES has all sorts of interesting available features, beyond the usual Lexus offerings, including an audiophile-grade stereo and a selection of unique interior trims. You can now get special noise-cancelling tires, and a sportier F Sport trim with adaptive suspension (although the driving dynamics still can’t compete with pricier rivals). Unfortunately, the ES’s new infotainment proves frustrating to use, and you’ll be more reliant on it: Lexus has decreased the number of buttons in the cabin, moving controls into the touchpad-based system. The 2019 ES is also slightly lower to the ground, which makes it a little less accommodating to passengers who may have trouble getting in and out of cars. Beyond a handful of shortcomings, the Lexus ES offers excellent value for money, and seamlessly integrates a lot of thoughtful engineering.” – Will Kaufman, staff writer at Edmunds

Safety standout

“The 2019 ES is a standout for safety. It is one of our top-rated mid-size luxury cars earning the Top Safety Pick+ accolade. The ES is rated “Good” in every crashworthiness category, including the challenging driver- and passenger-side small overlap crash tests, where just a small portion of the front end of a vehicle at the left or right corner has to manage the impact energy. The ES also shines for front-crash prevention with a “Superior” rating for its standard forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking system. The standard LED projector headlights on the ES are rated “Acceptable,” while an optional premium headlight package brings performance up to a “Good” rating. IIHS rates headlight performance because many serious crashes happen at night, and better headlights help drivers see potential hazards earlier. The ES with the better optional headlights is a Top Safety Pick+ winner.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Sportier version

“The 2019 model is by far the quietest most responsive ES I have ever driven. I am particularly fond of the new ES F-Type, which is the first time the ES has come with an F-Type package for better handling and a sportier appearance. The new ES gets better gas mileage than the model it replaces while also producing more horsepower. Coupling the V6 engine with a new eight-speed transmission, it is a blast to drive. I also love the fact that the new ES comes with Apple CarPlay.” – Michael Shafman, general manager at Herb Chambers Lexus of Sharon