After six generations of success in the mid-size sedan category, the next-generation Lexus ES is forging a new, more ambitious path. Long known for its unparalleled comfort, refinement and luxury appointments, the seventh-generation ES builds on its strengths with an all-new chassis that allows for a more dynamic exterior design and even better driving performance.
Traditional buyers will find the new ES more spacious, quieter and safer than ever before, while a new generation of customers will be introduced to a sedan with sharpened performance, class-leading safety technology and a level of craftsmanship rarely found in this segment.
In a break with ES models of the past, the seventh-generation design uses a fast roofline that emphasises its lower stance and slippery aerodynamics. The rear end is clean and sharply chiselled, with LED tail-lamps that wrap around the quarter panels to provide a continuous styling line from any angle. F Sport models add a rear spoiler, additional rear badging and a dark lower valance to further refine the look.
In the ES, the driver’s focus is kept on the road ahead by placing the centre display screen, instrument panel and heads-up display in a tight cluster in the driver’s field of view. Additionally, adjustments were made to components such as the steering wheel angle and position and brake pedal angle and location to provide the driver with a natural driving position.
Front passengers get a more open and spacious environment that promotes relaxation. Rear-seat passenger comfort has long been a hallmark of the ES and the seventh-generation model still prioritises rear package capability despite the sleeker exterior roofline. A lower hip point and a carefully configured headliner preserve headroom while the longer wheelbase delivers uncharacteristically generous legroom.
This ES was built to deliver a fundamentally higher level of performance than any of its predecessors. The starting point was the newly developed Global Architecture-K chassis. It is an exceptionally rigid front-wheel-drive chassis, rivalling the Global Architecture-L rear-wheel drive platform used for the LC coupe and LS sedan in terms of torsional stiffness.
All ES350s are powered by a 3.5-litre V6 that is designed to deliver commanding acceleration along with an invigorating sound. With an update to D4-S fuel injection, the impressively smooth engine now develops 300 horsepower and 355Nm of torque. Both of those numbers are up significantly compared to the previous-generation V6. In addition to the boost in power, the ES350 also benefits from a new 8-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission.
In select global markets the ES will be offered as an ES250, powered by an all-new, high-efficiency 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine. Not to be outdone by its gasoline siblings, the ES300h is capable of delivering exceptional fuel efficiency, responsive performance and minimal emissions for a mid-size luxury sedan. A new, fourth-generation Hybrid Drive System overturns the traditional image of hybrids with its excellent power performance, high-level fuel economy and the elimination of the “rubber band” feeling associated with previous hybrid systems.
When it goes on sale later this year, the 2019 Lexus ES will usher in a new era for one of the brand’s most popular models. Much like the flagship LS, the new ES sedan aims to engage a broader range of customers. It delivers everything that traditional Lexus buyers expect, along with elements that will draw in those who haven’t considered the brand before. Bolder styling, more dynamic performance, unique cabin materials and the latest safety technology add a chapter to the ES story that will recast the traditional image of the ES into one that is new and unexpected.
Read our 2014 comparison of Lexus ES250, Volvo S80 T4 and Audi A6 2.0.