The Sporty 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Review: Sportier than ever

Courtesy of Lexus USA Newsroom
Courtesy of Lexus USA Newsroom /

Trucks are weird, crossovers are king, and the previously soft Lexus ES is now sporty.

It’s a weird world we’re living in. This includes the automotive industry.  The Lexus ES has always been a somewhat soft luxury sedan that’s built for comfort, quietness, build quality and reliability. It has a posh interior and an attractive but somewhat bland exterior. It is, in other words, a dad car.

Lexus decided this had to change or at least become less pronounced with the 2019 model.

There are many reasons this had to change, but the main one revolves around the fact that the ES shares a platform with Toyota’s new sedans and an engine with the Toyota Camry. It is essentially a gussied up Avalon underneath.

The redesign necessitated the need for Lexus to make the new ES a slightly more engaging car to drive, but is that really a good thing?

The First F Sport ES

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The 2019 ES comes in an F Sport variant for the first time ever. Apparently, Lexus thinks it’ll be able to lure away younger buyers from crossovers with the F Sport package, and they might be on to something.

The F Sport package adds a different grille, larger 19-inch wheels, an F Sport steering wheel, a couple of special drive modes over the regular model of the car, a trunk lid spoiler, exclusive paint colors, adaptive variable suspension, and some special seats.

The car feels sportier than any ES before it. The 3.5-liter V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission won’t break your neck, but they provide ample power and the car handled surprisingly well during my week with the vehicle.

The F Sport seats are extremely comfy and the sporty exterior and interior styling elements help bring the cabin up a notch. It’s a good, somewhat sporty car, but still far from being a true sports sedan.

Silly Tech

Lexus still uses a horrible trackpad for its infotainment. I don’t know who at Lexus thinks this is a good idea, but please for the love of god stop putting this horrible tech in your cars. It’s imprecise and hard to use.

It takes away from the fact that Lexus offers a good list of connectivity and infotainment features like Bluetooth, navigation, apps, and now even Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration. Good stuff. Too bad it’s hard to use.

Why Is the ES Sporty?

As much as I enjoyed driving the 2019 ES 350 F, I wonder why all sedans have to be sporty. What’s wrong with a comfortable, posh luxury sedan that cruises great on the highway and floats like a boat over everything?

The 2019 ES has a very comfortable ride, but it’s not as floaty as it once was, and it seems to be a common consensus among automotive folks that floaty equals bad. I don’t think that’s the case.

I love old floaty comfortable big cars, and I love small, tight sports cars. They’re two different things. Let them be. You don’t have to make every car sporty.

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The company’s new ES should sell well. It’s a darn good car. But I wonder if adding an F Sport variant and updating the car as Lexus has will have a big enough impact to woo many crossover buyers.