The Lexus ES is based on a platform similar to the Toyota Avalon, and that car's longer wheelbase affords a roomier interior, particularly for rear passengers. The ES features independent suspension all around for a smooth, effortless ride.
The ES 350 comes powered by a 3.5L V6 that makes 268 horsepower and delivers an estimated 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. This is mated to a 6-speed sequential-shift automatic. The all-new ES 300h Hybrid utilizes a 2.5L 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine that is paired with an electric motor. The duo produces 200 horsepower and returns an estimated 40 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. The 300h features an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission to deliver seamless, efficient shifts.
The ES is rich in standard equipment, with perforated NuLuxe upholstery, power locks and mirrors as well as one-touch up/down windows, 10-way power adjustable front seats, one-touch open-close power moonroof, dual-zone climate control, leather seating and much more. Technology features include steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control, Display Audio with a back-up camera, driver-selectable engine mapping, 8-speaker sound system, and Lexus Enform Remote, which allows ES owners to remotely view and control certain features such as the locks, engine stop/start, and climate control via mobile app. Bluetooth hands-free technology is also standard.
Options and packages take the ES to another level. Among the amenities available include hard-drive-based navigation with voice command, heated and ventilated leather seating, a panorama glass roof, a power rear sunshade and a Mark Levinson premium sound system. Other goodies include a lane-departure warning system, radar-based cruise control, parking assist and blind-spot monitoring.
Certain reputations are hard to shake. Big, soft and meant to coddle, Lexus' vehicles are often seen as cars for the older sort -- the orthotic inserts of the luxury automotive industry, if you will. With a sharper underlying chassis and a new F Sport trim, the midsize Lexus ES does a good job showing that Toyota's fancier sibling is moving in a younger direction, but it still has work left to do.
Reinventing yourself occasionally requires starting again from the ground up, and that's what Lexus did with the ES. For this new generation, which landed in the 2019 model year, the ES rides on Toyota's TNGA platform, a do-it-all modular chassis underpinning new Toyota vehicles large and small. Loaded with high-strength steels and modern engineering know-how, TNGA has given a wide swath of Toyota vehicles new life through improved handling and composure.
You can definitely feel this upgrade without trying very hard. Even a quick drive to the store in the Lexus ES 350 F Sport and you'll notice much more cohesion in how the car moves, eschewing some of the loosey-goosey handling present in its forebear. In F Sport guise, my tester rocks the optional adaptive variable suspension, which stiffens the car up in sportier modes, accessed by a sort-of-oddly-placed mode knob jutting out from the dashboard atop the gauge cluster.
The Good ~ Improved styling ~ Soft or sharp when desired ~ Top-notch build quality
The Bad ~ F Sport trim is a little gimmicky ~ Infotainment remains awful
The Bottom Line The 2020 Lexus ES 350 F Sport brings some youthful character to a car that hopes to shed its olds-only persona, but I don't think it's enough.
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