ES Goes F: The 2019 Lexus ES350 F SPORT

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Lexus ES350 F SPORT
The 2019 Lexus ES350 F SPORT.
For those of us who remember when the Lexus brand first appeared and the ES series was little more than a very nice Toyota Camry, it's a surprise to learn the 2019 is the seventh generation of the ES.  The new-gen ES350 is lower and wider, adapting the design language of the stunning LC500 coupe and LS500 sedan

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Lexus ES350 F SPORT
2019 Lexus ES350 F SPORT.
But there are some substantial changes under the skin this time, too---making the ES a more involving, satisfying car to drive.   It rides on a new chassis, made from several grades of high-strength steel and featuring laser screw welds to enhance rigidity.  That new chassis also gave engineers the chance to improve noise, vibration and harshness, with 93% of the floor pan now covered with sound-deadening insulation.  It was 68% in the last generation---and that ES was a very quiet car.

The suspension has been tuned to provide both precise handling and comfort, a balance many cars find hard to strike.  A new rack-assist power steering system allows for greater feedback through the wheel. 

Under the hood, a new 3.5-liter V6 now makes 305 horsepower, up from 268 for the past few generations of ES.  It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, a combination the EPA estimates will deliver 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. 

This year's ES also offers an F SPORT model for the first time.  It features and adaptive variable suspension capable of 650 levels of adjustment for optimal ride quality and handling control.   There's also a more aggressive version of Drive Mode Select than what's found in the non-F SPORT ES.

Interior view of 2019 Lexus ES350 F SPORT
2019 Lexus ES350 F SPORT interior.
Our tester was the F SPORT, which brings 10-way F SPORT bolstered front heated and ventilated power seats with two-way lumbar, a memory system for the driver's seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel, a power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels and Hadori aluminium trim and aluminum pedals.

It also features the F SPORT moveable meter---a reconfigurable digital gauge cluster that lets you focus on the information that matters most depending on the type of driving you're doing and the drive mode you've selected.

And, hallelujah---this generation of the ES has Apple CarPlay---which is rapidly becoming a make-or-break for yours truly.   The ease of accessing navigation, music, podcasts, hearing your voice and text messages read back,  with universal functionality, is indispensable once you use it.

The ES350 starts at $39,600, and that price includes auto on/off LED low and high-beam headlamps with daytime running lights, SmartAccess with pushbutton start and stop, electrochromic heated outside mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a one-touch open/close power tilt-and-slide moonroof, a ten-speaker Lexus Premium sound system with an eight-inch color display, voice command, Siri Eyes Free, Google Voice Control, Lexus Enform Wi-Fi, Safety Connect and Service Connect, Lexus Enform Remote with Smart Watch and Alexa skill integration, the Lexus Enform App suite with Amazon Alexa capability and carpeted floor mats.

Step up to the ES 350 F SPORT and the base price increases to $44,035.  And our tester had extra-cost options:

  • Adaptive Variable Suspension ($750)
  • Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert ($1,065)
  • Wireless phone charger ($75)
  • Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package---an upgraded 12.3-inch color multimedia display and 17-speaker, 1,800-watt premium surround sound audio system ($3,000).
  • Triple beam headlights ($1,515)
  • Hands-free power open/close trunk ($550)
  • Premium paint---the Ultrasonic Blue Mica you see in the pictures above ($595).
  • F SPORT heated leather steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer and fast response interior heater ($180).
With $1,025 delivery processing and handling fee, the bottom line came to $52,790 and frankly, I hated to give it back.

I liked the old ES350 more than a lot of people---especially in hybrid ES300h form---but the 2019 ES350 F SPORT brings the car into line with its exciting bigger siblings, the LH coupe and LS sedan, both of which are in the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right hand side of this page.  No surprise that this car joins them now.