The longevity of some vehicles tends to sneak up on you. Living proof: this 2019 Lexus ES. Are you able to consider you are wanting on the seventh-generation mannequin? The ES, together with the marque’s , are the 2 longest-running nameplates within the model’s historical past, having been on sale since Lexus’ inception in 1989. In additional human phrases, that signifies that the ES household is firmly Era Y — it is a millennial.
Which will come as a shock, as a result of all through its life, the ES has been seen as a conservative, staidly-styled providing. Traditionally, it has been a mannequin whose enchantment was that it was straightforward to advocate to patrons “of a sure age” who prioritized qualities like a soft experience, quiet cabin and drama-free possession over all different attributes.
Driving atop its new GA-Okay chassis, the 2019 mannequin appears to be like set to take care of these hard-won ES-family touchstones. After spending a day driving it in Tennessee, I can affirm that it’s certainly unerringly serene, and it enjoys wonderful experience high quality and sound isolation. Additional, there is not any purpose to imagine that the brand new ES will ship something aside from sterling reliability.
However that is the place the brand new mannequin’s AARP-friendly likenesses finish. In contrast to previous iterations, the 2019 ES achieves its calm demeanor with out resorting to the kind of overly delicate suspension that in the end yields messy dealing with when pressed. And it does the whole lot carrying a daring new look.
Like that famed and much-maligned technology of individuals born between the ’80s and the early ’90s, the brand new ES has matured enormously. In truth, the ES and millennials share some generally related traits: The Lexus is assured, achievement-oriented and possesses a surprisingly sturdy household drive. As for ascribing one other generally held perception about millennials to the ES — tech savviness — I’ve obtained my reservations.
Stylistically, the ES began to let its hair down a bit within the outgoing technology, however not almost as utterly and dramatically because the automotive seen right here. The 2019 ES is 2.6 inches longer, Zero.2 inches decrease and 1.Eight inches wider than its forbearer, and it sits on a 2-inch longer wheelbase whereas straddling markedly wider entrance and rear tracks. The takeaway? The brand new ES options extra athletic and substantial proportions, together with improved cabin room.
As earlier than, the ES vary contains each gasoline (ES 350) and hybrid (ES 300h) front-wheel drive midsize sedans. New for 2019 is a 3rd choice, the hawkish-looking ES 350 F Sport.
Non-F Sport ES fashions (just like the burgundy ES 350 proven in these photographs) can be straightforward to identify on the road due to its distinctive interpretation of Lexus’ trademark Spindle Grille. On this software, the outsized meeting has a sure “sands by way of the hourglass” high quality about it.
To my eyes, as seen right here, Lexus’ controversial styling ingredient is much less profitable than within the bigger LS sedan, and definitely, the corporate’s deeply trendy. That mentioned, the grille integrates much better into the automotive’s general design than the extra timid model used on the outgoing mannequin (which all the time regarded just like the tacked-on midyear refresh artifact that it was).
Akio Toyoda, head of Lexus’ dad or mum, Toyota Motor Co., made it clear a couple of years in the past that boring designs would not be tolerated, and the Lexus group has taken that message to coronary heart, virtually to a fault. Between its bigger grille, these slashing, glowering headlamps and extra intentionally styled bodysides, the 2019 Lexus ES actually appears to be like extra assured and upscale. Nevertheless, I also can see how its extra aggressive visage could alienate among the automotive’s extra conservative core patrons.
What lies beneath
The 2019 ES does not simply put on a extra dynamic and confident new jacket, it is obtained extra muscle lurking beneath, too. Thanks partially to elevated use of high-strength steels, the ES’ new platform is stiffer. And whereas the ES shares a lot of its body-in-white with the extra prosaic, there are a selection of key variations, together with elevated use of laser-screw welding and structural adhesives to additional enhance rigidity. Notably, the ES receives a V-brace mounted behind the rear seats that improves torsional bending resistance on the expense of with the ability to fold the rear setbacks for added utility.
As earlier than, the guts of the ES 350 is a naturally aspirated Three.5-liter V6. Due to updates that embody a revised fuel-injection system, output is up meaningfully to 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque (will increase of 34 and 19, respectively).
Simply as importantly, Lexus has binned the outgoing ES’ six-speed automated in favor of a brand new eight-speed gearbox with a wider ratio unfold for each higher acceleration and improved effectivity. All through my day’s drive within the rolling countryside exterior of Nashville, the Direct Shift transmission comported itself effectively, except being often gradual to downshift (no matter drive mode) throughout extra enthusiastic driving.
Mixed, the ES 300’s burlier engine and smarter transmission yields an estimated Zero-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds. That is unremarkable, but it surely’s a lot fast for such a automotive, and it is a half-second enchancment over its predecessor. Estimated gasoline economic system numbers are considerably oddly unfold out — simply 22 miles per gallon within the metropolis, however a significantly better 33 mpg on the freeway, or 26 mpg general.
The ES 300h, which options Lexus’ fourth-generation hybrid know-how, pairs a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with a extra highly effective electrical motor and a brand new nickel metallic hydride battery pack. Importantly, the latter’s extra compact dimensions imply that it now suits below the rear seat, saving trunk area.
Complete system output is quoted at a modest 215 horsepower (+15), and a torque determine isn’t accessible. Preliminary effectivity estimates name for 44 miles per gallon metropolis, 45 freeway and 44 mixed. These are massively spectacular numbers — Toyota says they’re sufficient to make the ES 300h essentially the most environment friendly luxurious automobile supplied within the US and not using a plug.
Constructed completely in Kyushu, Japan (most different North American ES fashions can be inbuilt Georgetown, Kentucky), the hybrid’s Zero-60 mph is listed as a casual-sounding Eight.1 seconds, the identical as final 12 months.
None of these metrics actually inform you how the brand new ES feels whereas producing these numbers, nonetheless, however the reply is “fairly darn good.” Lexus makes an enormous deal about how a lot sportier this new XV70 technology is to drive than earlier than, and certainly, it breeds driver confidence like no ES earlier than it. That is significantly true of the F Sport, which not solely provides visible drama with a blacked-out mesh grille, distinctive decrease fascias, model-specific wheels, rear spoiler and dark-finish taillights, it additionally nudges the dynamic quotient upward.
Mainly, that is as a result of the ES 350 F Sport is obtainable with Adaptive Variable Suspension derived from the system on the LC Coupe. Lexus says the system options no fewer than 650 particular person ranges of damping, which helps maintain the automotive degree, whether or not it is being pitched exhausting right into a nook or negotiating a suburban velocity bump. Nevertheless, the usual ES with its novel new “swing-valve” passive shocks works effectively, too. As on all 2019 ES fashions, the electrical energy steering module has migrated from the column to a brand new rack mount for improved responsiveness, and turn-in is noticeably keener, and it is much less numb than the usual ES, even when highway really feel stays considerably muted.
Talking of considerably muted — F Sport fashions characteristic further drive modes, together with a Sport+ mode designed to reinforce engine noise for a extra athletic really feel. As Yasuhiro Sakakibara, the ES’ chief engineer famous, that allowance was “wanted to maintain the cabin from being ‘unnaturally quiet’.” In my estimation, Lexus has solely partially succeeded, nonetheless. Whereas the free-breathing V6 truly sounds fairly good climbing to its 6,600-rpm redline, its tune stays too muffled and distant for my liking — it is as if the engine is swaddled in thick cashmere blankets.
Total, although, the F Sport is clearly differentiated from its ES siblings, delivering a considerably extra partaking driving expertise.
I am happier in regards to the swaddling that occurs within the new inside, which feels impressively upscale. Boasting snug seats, good-quality switchgear and supplies, it is a nice place to be irrespective of which mannequin you are in, and regardless of the design’s extra dramatically sloping roofline, there’s loads of headroom again there for 6-footers.
On the cabin aspect of the equation, like all millennial value their salt, the ES travels all over the place with a full array of tech goodies, together with an non-compulsory enormous and crisp head-up show that works higher than most when carrying polarized sun shades. A 10-speaker, 296-watt Pioneer audio system comes customary, however an 1,800-watt, 12-channel Mark Levinson system is non-compulsory. There’s even Amazon Alexa integration and accessible wi-fi charging.
On fashions outfitted with navigation, the inside is dominated by a 12.Three-inch billboard-style infotainment display (autos that go with out embedded nav get an Eight-inch show). All ES fashions characteristic a normal Verizon WiFi hotspot, and whereas Android Auto customers stay out of luck, Lexus is promising Apple CarPlay on fashions constructed after Oct. 1.
I might recommend ready for a type of fashions, if solely as a result of Apple CarPlay’s simplified menu construction is considerably extra intuitive to function than the native infotainment system. Keep in mind once I mentioned I had reservations in regards to the ES’ tech savviness? That is as a result of Lexus’ Distant Contact Interface (RTI) continues to be very irritating to make use of. Whereas enhancements have been made, this trackpad-based system stays maddening — it is my least-favorite infotainment interface within the luxurious automotive enterprise. I do not actually even assume it is a lot of an enchancment over the outgoing ES’ humpbacked mouse-style controller. As RTI use is on the coronary heart of many of the automotive’s capabilities, I like to recommend making some extent of getting very aware of how the system works whereas driving earlier than signing on the dotted line.
Even when the 2019 ES stumbles with infotainment know-how, this millennial appears to be like poised to excel in the case of family-minded superior security gear. All ES fashions come outfitted with Lexus Security System 2.Zero, which features a precollision auto-brake system with pedestrian and daytime bicyclist detection. All-speed radar-based cruise management can also be a part of the bundle, as is lane-keep help, highway signal recognition and auto high-beams. A blind-spot monitor and 360-degree digicam are additionally accessible.
In it for the lengthy haul
Total, the 2019 Lexus ES is a considerably higher automotive than earlier than, with higher-fidelity dealing with, sturdy complement of security options and a nicer cabin. I would not go as far as to name the brand new ES really sporty, however it’s extra confidence inspiring.
Lexus officers stay upbeat that the brand new ES will discover properties regardless of shoppers’ ebbing love affair with conventional sedans (a actuality that has been enjoying out in Toyota’s house market of Japan for a few years already). The corporate is relying on edgier styling and improved efficiency to provide the mannequin broader enchantment amongst all generations of patrons, be they X, Y or Boomer. With over 1,000,000 ES fashions offered within the US alone to date, I would not guess in opposition to them.
The 2019 Lexus ES rolls into sellers this September, and pricing can be introduced nearer to the automobile’s on-sale date.
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