Lexus Breathes New Life into ES Sedan for 2019

2019 Lexus ES goes to uncommon lengths to look uncommon

The Lexus ES has captured many adherents through its six generations. When you go to Dictionary.com and type in “bulletproof,” Lexus ES pops right up. But exciting? No one has ever applied that moniker to the remarkably popular Lexus sedan. That, according to Lexus marketing guru and car collector Cooper Ericksen, is about to change. In a bi-continental unveiling that extended from Beijing to Los Angeles, the brand just revealed its all-new 2019 Lexus ES, and frankly, it’s a looker. Not only that but Lexus has debuted an F Sport version of the sedan that is designed to enable the male of the species to retain his Man Card while at the wheel.

2019 Lexus ES longer, lower and wider than before

Taking a cue from Pontiac, the 2019 Lexus ES is longer (2.6 inches), lower (0.2 inch) and wider (1.8 inches) than the 2018 model. And while the 2018 fades into the background like a CIA agent in undercover mode, the new ES is an exuberant visual feast. The spindle grille, never Lexus’s best feature, has been sculpted into a better-than-acceptable nose. The roofline is positively swoopy and, dare we say it, coupelike. The wheelbase is two inches longer, and this enabled the Lexus stylists to cut the overhangs. That plus the fact the new ES has wider front and rear tracks (0.4 inches and 1.5 inches, respectively) give the sedan such a vibrant look that blue-haired old ladies might wonder where their favorite car went. John Delorean would be proud.

If the notably attractive exterior isn’t enough to intrigue 30- and 40-something males, Lexus is also offering up the F Sport model. Unique visual events include a rear spoiler, rear badges and a dark lower valance. The paint is an exclusive color called “Ultra Sonic Blue Mica 2.0.” The F Sport also features a blacked-out refinement of the grille with a pattern consisting of L-shaped clusters that stand for…well, you figure it out. As you’d probably guess the F Sport gets the coolest wheels, too. They are 19-inchers reminiscent of those affixed to the sporty-as-can-be Lexus LC coupe. ES 350 and ES 300h versions get along with 17-inch and two distinct 18-inch wheel designs.

So where’s the sport in F Sport? Glad you asked. The most performance-oriented aspect of the car is its suspension. (Sigh) It is equipped with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) similar to the set-up on the LC coupe. Adjustable shock absorbers at each corner are capable of 650 levels of damping force. Happily you don’t have to choose one of the 650 each time you enter a corner. The system does that for you. In similar fashion the F SPORT-exclusive Sport+ mode in the Drive Mode Select system chooses the most aggressive engine, transmission and suspension settings for maximum performance.

All ES models except hybrid have same engine

Don’t get too excited now. All ES 350s, including the F Sport, are powered by the self-same 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6.  With an update to D4-S fuel injection, the engine offers 34 additional horsepower and 19 additional pound-feet of torque versus the 2018 version. While the 2019 ES 350 F Sport will likely go a little faster than the previous non-F Sport ES, it will sound like it’s going a lot faster.  That’s because a new Engine Sound Enhancement feature is also activated in Sport+ mode. It adds an additional layer of engine noise that in Lexus’s words “enhances the natural rhythms of the spirited driving.”

Whether all that is enough to persuade the male of the species to begin opting for the 2019 Lexus ES in greater numbers remains to be seen. What is clear as the spindle-nose on the ES’s face is that the all-new 2019, to be built in Kentucky, is way cooler and more attractive than the 2018.

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About Tom Ripley 53 Articles
Born in Boston, Tom Ripley has been writing about the automotive industry and the human condition for more than a decade. He's a frequent traveller but nominally resides in Villeperce, France.