IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
The redesigned Lexus ES remains one of the most comfortable luxury sedans around, and it delivers upscale trimmings and available features at prices that significantly undercut its rivals.
Some drivers find the touchpad infotainment interface to be finicky, and the rear seat backs don’t fold, which compromises cargo-carrying versatility.
In both fuel efficiency and sticker price, the ES 300h is the most economical hybrid of the few available in the premium midsize-car class.
WHAT IS IT?
The ES is Lexus’s “mainstream” midsize sedan, and it’s been redesigned for 2019. The ES 350 model is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 302 horsepower (34 more than the previous-generation model) and is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission in place of the previous 6-speed. The ES 300h hybrid has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder/electric powertrain that makes a total of 215 horsepower (a 15-hp bump from the previous model) and comes exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Lexus also offers the rear-wheel-drive-based GS in the premium midsize-sedan segment, but it’s a bit larger overall and more performance-oriented than the ES. The ES’s available equipment includes a panoramic sunroof, hands-free power trunk lid, heated and ventilated front seats, power rear-window sunshade, and a heated steering wheel. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist with lane centering, a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality are newly standard safety features.
In addition to its powertrain and active-safety updates, the Lexus ES gets a bit bigger with its redesign—it’s 2.6 inches longer overall on a two-inch-longer wheelbase. The ES 350 also gains a sporty F Sport version, which adds an adaptive variable suspension, variable exhaust system (for a throatier sound on demand) and specific interior/exterior styling touches. Newly available features include Apple CarPlay functionality (but still no Android Auto capability), Amazon Alexa connectivity, a WiFi hotspot, and automatic rear braking (which will sound a warning if an obstacle is detected when backing, and then apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t).
The ES 350 is rated at 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway in regular trim, and 22/31 in F Sport form. The ES 300h is rated at 43 city/45 highway. In Consumer Guide® testing, an ES 350 F Sport averaged 23.2 mpg in 60-percent city driving. Lexus recommends regular-grade gas for all ES models.
VALUE IN CLASS
The cushy, comfortable Lexus ES still excels at coddling, but it’s also more dynamically engaging than it was before—particularly in its new F Sport trim. The redesign also nets the ES plenty of desirable new features that help keep it at the forefront of the automotive-technology race. The ES 350’s V6 delivers smooth, satisfying power, while the ES 300h delivers class-leading fuel economy with little compromise in overall refinement. Despite a few control-interface quirks, the redesigned ES is still a shoo-in for Best Buy status.
|BASE PRICE RANGE||$39,500 – $45,060|
|BODY STYLES||4-Door Sedan|
|AVAILABLE ENGINES||302-HP, 3.5-Liter V6; 215-HP, 2.5-Liter 4-Cyl./Electric|
|DRIVE WHEELS||Front-Wheel Drive|
|BUILT IN||Japan, USA|
|EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE||22-45 MPG|
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