After years of catering solely to buyers in the market for cushy luxury, the Lexus ES is ready to show some teeth. The seventh-generation ES revealed at the Beijing Auto Show will be the first available in an F Sport version.
The front-wheel-drive ’19 ES, built on a new Lexus Global Architecture-K platform, grows a bit, with a 2.6-inch-longer wheelbase. It is slightly wider, with front and rear wheel tracks that have been pushed out closer to the corners. Having gone to a “fast” roof design that is fractionally lower than before, Lexus claims to have made changes to the seat and headliner to preserve rear headroom.
ES 350 and F Sport still come with a 3.5-liter V6, but it’s a new design, and it now makes 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque, both more than the engine used previously. It is paired with a new 8-speed “Direct Shift” automatic transmission. The ES 300h hybrid ushers in a fourth-generation hybrid system. An all-new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and the electric motor team up for 215 system horsepower, and an estimated 44 mpg in combined city/highway driving. A more compact electric-motor battery has been relocated under the back seat, freeing up more trunk space.
Lexus claims a more rigid vehicle framework (with more precise assembly methods like laser screw welds) has made it possible to finally offer an F Sport ES. It will come with an exclusive blacked-out grille, rear spoiler, 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension with adjustable dampers at each corner, a “Sport+” selectable driving mode for enhanced powertrain and suspension performance, and specific metallic cabin trim.
In addition to its more expressive styling, the ES gains some technology features. It is the first Lexus product to come with Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. It is also capable of using Amazon Alexa commands, including car-to-home and home-to-car for remote functionality.
Lexus plans to have the 2019 ES in showrooms this September. There is no word yet on pricing.
Lexus claims the 2019 ES is the product of a revolution, not an evolution. We saw the car at a Los Angeles-area announcement event held simultaneously with the introduction in China, and it’s clear that it has thrown off its tame old ways in terms of styling. The arrival of an F Sport model signals it wants to do the same for its attitude. The ES still has great rear-seat room and high-grade cabin materials, so buyers will be able to ride out this revolution in comfort.