Lexus has always offered two mid-size sedans including the ES and GS. Both are great options for their 2019 model years, but are vastly different in their driving dynamics.
The Lexus ES starts with a front-wheel-drive setup and focuses on comfort and affordability. There is no all-wheel-drive option and the only powertrain choice is a 3.5-liter V6 unless you go for the hybrid. The Lexus GS, on the other hand, starts off with a rear-wheel-drive setup and focuses on sharp and sporty driving characteristics. Here, you have the option of going for all-wheel-drive along with a variety of engine choices that range from a four-cylinder turbo to a 5.0-liter V8 for the GS F.
How do they stack to the competitors in this segment and which one should you buy? Let’s find out.
2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Exterior
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Lexus GS since the second-generation model, and I absolutely love the design of the fourth-generation GS — although it is starting to age a little bit. The Lexus ES, on the other hand, was never really that appealing. It had a bland design and I could never really get over the fact that the first five generations were built on the Toyota Camry platform. While that changed with the sixth generation model which was closely related to the Avalon, the design still seemed a bit bland.
Well, all that has been totally transformed with the new seventh-generation 2019 Lexus ES, which as you can see, has been totally redesigned. Based on the new Global Architecture–K platform, the 2019 Lexus ES is now 2.6 inches longer and 1.8 inches wider than the outgoing model. That makes it longer and wider than the Lexus GS, and yes, that gives it more legroom for rear passengers. At a length of 196 inches, it’s also longer than the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and closer in size to the Genesis G80. The Volvo S90 is the longest in the segment at a whopping 200-inches in length.
Overall, I’m really loving the new proactive design of the new Lexus ES that is highlighted by the brand’s signature spindle grille and sharp character lines. The Lexus ES F Sport model I tested here comes with some model exclusives including a grille that is actually straight from the Lexus LS. The F Sport also gets a more unique front bumper, F-Sport badging, a rear spoiler, and F Sport 19-inch dark graphite wheels.
2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Interior
The interior of the 2019 Lexus ES is an awesome place to be — better than the aging Lexus GS. That’s because the Lexus ES is one of the most updated models in the brand’s lineup right now, so you get to see all the nice design and material updates that will eventually trickle down to other Lexus models. All the upholstery, buttons, and trims have an extremely premium feel, and are a huge step up from the ones seen on the outgoing ES, GS, and IS.
Depending on the Lexus ES trim you pick, make sure you at least go for the $1,820 Navigation Package which adds a beautiful and massive 12.3-inch display and Apple CarPlay in place of an eight-inch display. Heated and ventilated seats are standard on ES Luxury model and above. If you’re into a good sound system you’ll have to go for the $2,900 Navigation Package with a Mark Levinson sound system. The 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport I tested gets some model exclusive interior touches including F Sport bolstered heated and ventilated seats (and man are they smooth as butter!), leather-trimmed heated steering, leather shift-knob, F Sport pedals, an awesome LFA-inspired digital gauges, and the choice of a sexy Circuit Red with Hadori Aluminum trim you see here.
Space wise, the new and longer Lexus ES offers a spacious cabin with 39.2-inches of legroom for rear passengers, which is significantly more than any of its competitors except the Volvo S90 which offers 40.4-inches. Cargo capacity comes in at 16.7 cubic-feet.
2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Safety
When it comes to safety, the 2019 Lexus ES is available with a range of standard and optional driver assist technologies including a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure control, blind spot alert, front and rear cross traffic alert, and much more.
2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Performance
If you go back around 10 years, you’ll remember that every luxury sedan was aiming to be the sportiest. Since then, it seems like comfort has taken priority over performance. If you want performance, you’ll have to shell out extra cash for the BMW M550is or the Mercedes-AMG E53s of the world.
Power wise, the 2019 Lexus ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 making 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission allowing it to go from zero to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds, and hit a top speed of 131 mph.
Seeing as most of the entry-level models in this segment focus on comfort, the Lexus ES 350 is right there with them. To be honest, I never felt like I was driving a budget-level Lexus that isn’t as fun or as comfortable to drive as a BMW 530i or a Mercedes-Benz E300. Of course, the Lexus ES 350 is an FWD sedan but so is the Volvo S90 and that’s okay because those shopping for an entry-level luxury sedan aren’t concerned with going sideways.
That being said, the 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport I tested does come with some performance enhancing traits that make it more compelling to drive than a standard ES 350. The F Sport gets an F Sport tuned adaptive variable suspension. Pop the Lexus ES 350 F Sport into Sport S or Sport S+ mode and you’ll really feel the performance come through your fingertips via the beefy F Sport steering as the F Sport bolstered seats hold you tightly in space. Handling wise, it isn’t a BMW M5, but it is well-balanced and sharp enough to make you feel comfortable when you decide to let loose.
The 2019 Lexus ES 350 gets an EPA-rated fuel economy of 22/31 mpg* (city/highway).
2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Overall
Overall, the 2019 Lexus ES 350 is a huge improvement over the outgoing model. As for pricing, the Lexus ES 350 starts at $39,600** for the base model and $44,135 for the F Sport. A nicely packaged ES 350 F Sport will run you just over $53,000 — which is still below the starting price of a BMW 530i and the Mercedes-Benz E300. Visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Lexus dealership today.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.