Lexus has not been around as long as say Mercedes-Benz or Cadillac. Nonetheless it is well established in automotive culture as a purveyor of luxury vehicles made with great care.
While Lexus seems to have spent more of its time and money building luxury sport-utility vehicles, its sedans come with expertly made powertrains, quiet cabins and a large helping of the latest and greatest technology.
Overall: The Lexus ES 350 F Sport has a solid pedigree and the current version seems to embody Lexus virtues. In addition, I suspect the legion of ES owners, who made it one of the best-selling passenger cars in the Lexus line, have come to appreciate the adroit combination of modesty and technical proficiency this midsized sedan represents, especially in large swaths of U.S. sunbelt.
Exterior: Lexus has offered a couple of flourishes on the 20202 ES 350 F Sport, such as a new rear spoiler, which fits nicely into the overall design. Additionally, I assume, since it’s Lexus, it is actually functional if you happen to push the car to the edge of its capability. Most drivers never will, but it looks nice. There are also power folding outside mirrors on the F Sport.
The seventh generation ES appeared in 2018 as the 2019 model so the car could fit is the all-new Global Architecture–K platform. The result was an ES sedan that is longer by 2.6 inches, lower by a fraction and wider by 1.8 inches than earlier versions with wheels that have been pushed closer to the corners thanks to a 2-inch longer wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks.
… The proportions translate into a long, low, graceful exterior that also underscores the car’s very capable performance. The exterior design also features the Lexus signature grille, which can be overwhelming on some vehicles …
Interior: While it is a luxury brand, Lexus has never gone in for ostentatious. Instead it’s focused on comfort and luxury using a blend of first-rate materials that are put together with precision and craftsmanship that gives the spacious cabin a sense of refinement that helps to ease the stress of driving in subtle ways.
The cabin is very comfortable, and the design incorporates clever flourishes such as the metal pedals that come with the F Sport designation. These additional touches fit well with the basic design and linear dashboard, tailored center stack and sporty steering wheel that is not too large or too small but just right. Lexus also makes generous use of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin to enhance the sense of comfort. Adding to the feeling is the fact that the sunroof draws extra light into the cabin on cloudy days.
Powertrain: The front-wheel drive ES 350 F Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 and an 8-speed transmission that offers smooth acceleration along with efficiency. The latest V6 from Lexus features the D-4S fuel injection system which uses high-pressure injectors to deliver fuel directly into the combustion chamber along with a low-pressure system that delivers fuel to the intake ports.
Upgrades to the engine’s reciprocating parts along with a redline increase from 6,200 rpm to 6,600 rpm result in a total of 302 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,700 rpm. Fuel efficiency is up, too, with preliminary manufacturer estimates of 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg in combined driving. The 8-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission uses an ultra-thin torque converter and a multi-plate lock up clutch to maintain a direct connection in almost all driving situations.
Safety & Technology: The F Sport comes with the Lexus Safety Sense package of active safety features, which includes automatic emergency braking as well as is an integrated suite of four advanced safety systems from pedestrian alerts to helping maintain a preset speed and following distance from the vehicle ahead.
The system also pushes the technology even further with two additional offerings that can provide road sign information and can even help keep your vehicle centered in its lane on highways with gradual curves. The ES 350 also is equipped with a pre-collision system that prepares the vehicle of the driver to brace for a crash and multiple air bags.
… The Lexus ES 350 also is equipped with Bluetooth and an impressive sound system …
Drive Impressions: Lexus, like its parent company Toyota, pays attention to the details and the new platform underpinning the ES 350 is an all-new structure on a rigid chassis made from several grades of high-strength steel.
Engineers also use more structural adhesives with the GA-K chassis, making the ES 350 very quiet inside. It also serves as the base for a redesigned suspension that is tuned to deliver both comfort and precise handling.
The results are a polished combination of ride and handling and driving dynamics that are surprisingly quick and nimble for such a large car and complement that cars power train, which is capable of going from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, according to Lexus engineers. The overall ride quality is one of the most impressive aspects of the Lexus ES 350 F Sport, which also benefits from additional tweaks to the suspension.
Wrap Up: The Lexus ES 350 F Sport is pricey – our tester came in at more than $52,000 – but it comes with an elegant, quiet ride that always seems unruffled by the conditions of the pavement. It’s also a car that is able to relieve the stress of a long commute or a longer drive.
Designers also gave the ES the kind of eye-catching appearance that can make owners look back at the car with a sense of equanimity when they have to talk away. The ES 350 an impressive and probably very durable ride that could serve its owner well for years to come.