Relaxed Driving: 2019 Lexus ES 350 Ultra Luxury
With age, comes beauty, sophistication and an enhanced palette. Stepping into the next generation of our lives, desires change for what could ultimately, lead to a more relaxed way of life. The new Lexus ES’s enhanced goal is to leave the drama of the world at the door and step into an isolation of luxury – stillness – and tranquility.
Considering the demographic that the ES lineup holds, the trendiness of odd angular styling we’ve seen from Lexus is somewhat less dramatic here. While incorporating the new communal development, the all-new ES present a confident elegance that we don’t see very often in other brands. Starting at a wallet friendly $39,600, there is a Lexus ES for everyone – even the F SPORT stamp makes an appearance on the ES350 for those that seek sportier styling and a little more umph in the suspension, starting at $44,135. The popular ES300h Hybrid makes a comeback starting at $41,410 with a new 2.5-liter, 215-horsepower hybrid system that’s capable of returning 44 miles to the gallon. For the sake of this write-up however, we stepped into the high end of the ES food chain, and into the ES350 Ultra Luxury starting at $43,250.
Sharing similar chassis components with the all-new Toyota Avalon, the Lexus ES is entirely new for the 2019 model year. With a new chassis comes a new engine and powertrain. The ES350’s 3.5-liter V-6 now sees over 300-horsepower matted to a new 8-speed automatic. With some fancy footwork to the accelerator, this 3800lb luxury sedan sees 60 miles per hour in just over six and half seconds – turn the traction control off and it could be your passenger’s most embarrassing ride of their life.
Seeing the new engineering found in the ES, there is a certain finesse that is now associated with the ride and handling. While settling in on the more premium side of the ride quality side, the ES350 presents solitude of composure and balance. Its soft suspension soaks up the daily attributes of road misconduct leaving the 18-inch wheels to absorb most of the impact, providing a quiet serenity to the passengers within the cabin. The electrically boosted steering boons a well-weighted balance to its involvement with positive control in its operation – while it may carry very little connection to the wheels and a comatose performance to any vigorous driving; its superior gravity is beautifully in tuned to what we desire from the steering process.
Now with enhanced performance, the ES350 is right where it needs to be with a proper balance of performance and comfort. While it doesn’t call upon any quick driving style – it wants us to sit back, relax and enjoy the drive. Even with different drive modes from Eco, Sport and Normal – the weird antenna alien knobs above the cluster will most likely never to be used – alongside the steering wheel paddle shifters. Shifting into Sport mode, the ES350 felt out of shorts – as if showing up to Football practice in Golfing attire. The 8-speed transmission was a bit odd at times too, for the most part its quietly smooth shift points were unnoticeable to the touch, but when it came time for quick down changes, it was as if the transmission got confused and would wait for the driver to tell it what to do.
The interior of the ES is really what stands out the most. Its smooth lines and unique angular flare steps the ES into a new realm of premium discreetness. With dual pane glass and increased sound deadening, the ES is one heck of a quiet sedan. Even though we found discomfort in our seating position as we couldn’t get the driver seat to go any lower for our 6’-0” height stature, the seats themselves were calm and relaxing. Even with the front seats slid all the way to the more rearward position, the rear passengers had almost too much space to move around in. Tall passengers were happy in the rear seats and there was plenty of features back there for them to play with – rear window shade, side window shades to close out the sun and the world.
Technology being a big increase in the ES lineup, the new 12.3-inch infotainment display features a sharp, high-resolution display that now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Connectivity. Controlled through the touch pad interface, the operations are starting to seem a bit dated in its user functionality – control the mouse through a screen nearly as long as the dash takes quite a bit of time to get used to. The now digital instrument cluster is a unique touch that presents a relatively cool functionality – with limited customization, it’s perfect for the demographic of the ES targets.
As part of the Toyota/Lexus safety management system, all the Lexus ES’s come standard with Lexus Safety… this includes Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High Beam Assist, Forward Collision Emergency Braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control. While the list of standard features can extend past our arms, so does the options list – $1900 Blind Spot Monitoring w Rear Cross Traffic Alert, $75 Wireless Charging, $950 18-inch noise reducing wheels, $500 10.2-inch heads-up display, $1515 Triple Beam Headlights, $3000 Mark Levinson Audio Package with Navigation, $500 Panoramic Glass Roof, and $480 Heated & Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel.
Considering the competition against the ES is slim, its focus is geared towards one thing, and that’s comfort. Isolating its passengers from the world in succulent luxury is what the ES is great at. It doesn’t need performance, driving characteristics, or even crazy styling to make a declaration – its execution of superb inaudibility and tranquility is all it needs to be.
Model: 2019 LEXUS ES 350
Starting Price: $39,600
As Tested: $53,085 (ULTRA LUXURY + OPTIONS)
Engine: 3.5-LITER V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 302-HORSEPOWER / 267LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 22-CITY / 33-HWY / 26-COMBINED
(AS TESTED: ±21.0 MPG COMBINED)
NOTE: ACCUMULATION OF COMBINED MPG AFTER TESTING 165 DRIVEN MILES
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS