ALL THE FEELS WITHOUT THE FRILLS: 2020 LEXUS ES 350 F SPORT
It’s a strange phenomenon when we see an F SPORT badge nestled on the back of what is suppose to be one of Lexus more subdue sedans. Notorious for its low key, laid back, smooth driving manners, the ES 350 grasps an elevating display that completely changes is persona, but still maintains its well-recognized appeal.
Standing out amongst the pack was never really one of the ES’s strong suits. Its traits were to merely blend in and provide a superior haven of serene relief. For the first time however, with an F SPORT glued to its fender panels, the protagonist of being this non-chalet chariot gets a heavy dose of sporty elements that has us hollering “damn Gina.” Notorious for its black spindle grille, our rather boring Silver Lining tester represented its F SPORT conducts well. Add the bougie $1515 triple beam headlights and 18-inch dark graphite wheels – we got ourselves quite the handsome devil.
But then Lexus had to go do something that we never thought we’d see in an ES series – red leather seats. Did we just step into a pimp’s penthouse? Expressing an eye-catching, lively atmosphere there is a sensation that divorces itself from a simple life. Nestled behind the thick bolstered perforated steering wheel, cocooned by the hugging sport inspired seats, we’re surrounded by the tranquility the ES is known to be. With nearly every touchable surface wrapped in soft-to-the-touch leather, there is an unpresented sense of premium principle with subtle contrasting metal accents and red stitching.
Capturing that ES charm, the F SPORT accentuates its capabilities with a slightly tuned sportier suspension and upgraded dampers to the front and rear wheels. These little adjustments, partnered with the $750 Adaptive Variable Suspension system generate a ride quality that is much more in line with driver awareness and road impressions. This boosted element generates a dose of how a premium car should feel. Fitted with different drive mode settings, including two variation sport modes, there is fluctuation in its behavior that causes a more ecstatic driving guise. The greater, Sport + ensures a healthier attraction to its boosted electric steering that carries more heft in its motions without losing that driving comfortability.
When it comes to performance, the same 3.5-liter V-6 that can be found in nearly every Lexus in its lineup is not quite the snoozer our grandparents led us to believe. With just over 300-horsepower, there is some giddy-up and go action as it sees 60-mph within 6.6-seconds. Despite being quick on its own merits, the ES 350 conveys the task as one to be ushered rather than a gusher. Its eight-speed automatic is soothingly charming – but when it came time to behave like a transmission, its delayed responses had us flustered every time we made a right-hand turn.
With pricing starting at $39,900, the F SPORT package is the more premium virtue of the three available options starting at $44,635. The five-grand increase however, features more of its sportier elements than technological upgrades as it integrates highly bolstered front seats, aluminum trim throughout the interior, and of course, the infamous motorized TFT digital instrument cluster that lights up like a slot machine when it gets too excited. Splurging on the options, our sampler was fitted with nearly every option available including the $2900 Navigation and Mark Levison Audio Package features 17-speakers, an 1800 Watt Surround Sound system and a wonderfully executed 12.3-inch high-def infotainment system that encompasses Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa combability, $500 10.2-inch Head-Up Display, $1065 Blind Spot Monitoring System with Intuitive Parking Assist and Automatic Braking, $550 Hands-Free Power opening and close trunk, and $75 Wireless Charging Pad. However, standard on all Lexus products features Lexus Safety System + 2.0 that incorporates the latest advancements in pre-collision avoidance.
Carrying the fundamentals of a sportier sedan, Lexus somehow maintained the charming elements of the ES 350 while enhancing the right parts that gives it that sporty feel without all the harsh frills.
Model: 2020 LEXUS ES 350
Trim: F SPORT
Base Price: $39,900
Starting Trim Price: $44,635
As Tested: $53,990
Color: SILVER LINING METALLIC
Engine: 3.5-LITER V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 302-HORSEPOWER / 267 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 22-CITY / 31-HWY / 25-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 26.3 MPG COMBINED
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.6 SECONDS