2020 Lexus ES 350 F Sport review: Aiming younger

If the grille will get any much larger, there won’t be a bumper.

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Specific reputations are challenging to shake. Huge, tender and intended to coddle, Lexus’ automobiles are frequently found as vehicles for the older type — the orthotic inserts of the luxury automotive business, if you will. With a sharper fundamental chassis and a new F Sport trim, the midsize Lexus ES does a great task showing that Toyota’s fancier sibling is shifting in a more youthful path, but it continue to has work left to do.


  • Improved styling
  • Soft or sharp when preferred
  • Major-notch construct quality

Never Like

  • F Sport trim is a little gimmicky
  • Infotainment continues to be terrible

For the youths

Reinventing by yourself often requires starting off again from the floor up, and that’s what Lexus did with the ES. For this new generation, which landed in the 2019 product 12 months, the ES rides on Toyota’s TNGA platform, a do-it-all modular chassis underpinning new Toyota automobiles massive and small. Loaded with large-toughness steels and present day engineering know-how, TNGA has provided a vast swath of Toyota automobiles new daily life by way of improved handling and composure.

You can undoubtedly experience this upgrade with out hoping incredibly challenging. Even a fast travel to the retail outlet in the Lexus ES 350 F Sport and you are going to detect significantly more cohesion in how the car moves, eschewing some of the loosey-goosey handling existing 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 type-of-oddly-put mode knob jutting out from the dashboard atop the gauge cluster.

Shockingly (to me, at minimum), it truly is amazing how substantially the ES 350’s character improvements in this new generation. Flipping that mode dial makes real, tangible variation in the car. In Sport, the suspension gains stiffness, providing me enough self esteem to really chuck the detail all-around. Sport S+ mode will take factors even even more, incorporating more body weight to the variable (but continue to numb) steering while even more tightening the dampers and even piping in some “sound improvement.” I would not go so far as to say it transforms into a sports activities car, considering that it truly is continue to a huge sedan with front-wheel travel, but this car does give some youthful attraction in a way that no other Lexus ES at any time has.

Young buyers also enjoy a little bit of flash, and you should not be concerned, Lexus has appear by way of there, albeit in more classic Lexus manner. The ES 350 F Sport carries a several distinctive exterior touches to aid differentiate it from more pedestrian trims, like a blacked-out grille, darker taillights, a trunk-lid spoiler and angrier reduce fasciae, and it all appears to be like rather great. The interior picked it up, although the ES no for a longer time appears to be like stodgy and dated, thanks to a vastly improved design inside of that makes better use of interesting angles. My tester will take factors a phase even more with remarkable purple leather on the middle console, doorway panels and seats. It is really a bold approach — and an even bolder shade alternative in a ordinarily conservative car — so credit rating where by it truly is because of for having a little hazard. Just one component of its roots that Lexus didn’t abandon, although, is its adherence to construct quality, which continues to be leading-notch.

You know what else young buyers like? The newest in-car tech. Want to know where by the ES 350 partially fails in its mission? You guessed it, and like each individual other Lexus of late, the blame is put only on the infotainment technique. An eight-inch screen is typical, unless you choose for manufacturing facility navigation, which boosts the screen size to 12.3 inches. No make a difference what, the fundamental tech stinks. The touchpad has under no circumstances been intuitive or participating to use, snapping to every single menu item awkwardly as you drag a finger aimlessly in the hopes that you are going to probably come across the placing you want in the morass of improperly arranged menus. It is really distracting. That mentioned, a Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay are typical (Android Car is, too, on vehicles built following Oct 2019), so there are some silver linings on this hulking, at any time-existing tech cloud. Just slap a fancier skin on Toyota’s vastly exceptional Entune hardware and phone it a working day currently.

Lexus’ mish-mash technique to switchgear and telematics could possibly frustrate some, as well. Get the weather controls, for instance: While practically each individual HVAC operate has a physical button under the screen for straightforward obtain, anything simple like syncing the weather zones alongside one another requires a multistep dive by way of the menus employing that godawful touchpad. At minimum the heated-and-ventilated seat controls are continue to buttons.

Is all this enough to develop a remarkable shift in attraction, although? The ES 350 F Sport carries a price tag aimed more towards the young at coronary heart than the really young, with a starting off price just under $45,000 and my tester ringing in at $53,950 following destination. There are a good deal of really sporty vehicles in that price assortment, together with some SUVs, and a lot of of them you should not have years of geriatric-friendly baggage to eschew as component of a reinvention. To me, it looks more like a participate in to scoop up center-administration-variety buyers who want to remind the entire world (and them selves) that they continue to have a entertaining side, consumers who could possibly otherwise gravitate to sharper vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz E-Course or Volvo S90.

The ES 350’s interior will no for a longer time put you to slumber — but it truly is not like the leather isn’t really at ease enough to assistance that.

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For the olds

Inspite of the ES 350’s thorough de-ageing approach, this sedan continues to be somewhat outdated-fashioned, which indicates there is certainly continue to loads of attraction to keep buyers of prior ES types in the fold.

Even although there are wide enhancements in the way the ES 350 handles, specially in F Sport guise, it continues to be a tender, comfortable cruiser at coronary heart. Hold the car in Comfort and ease mode, and it truly is going to be the exact predictable luxury sedan as it always is, soaking up bumps and transferring little jostling to the cabin. The ES 350’s 3.five-liter, normally-aspirated V6 now places out 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, and while it feels a smidge more sprightly, the lack of a turbocharger indicates torque will take time to accumulate as the rev counter rises, foremost to an underwhelming knowledge — not a problem when you under no circumstances intend to depress the accelerator more than an inch or two.

At an EPA-approximated 22 miles per gallon city and 31 mpg highway, the ES 350 F Sport is also rather frugal, despite the fact that it loses a couple mpg in its sportier suit. This frugality is thanks in component to a new eight-velocity automated transmission that likes to reside in the fuel-efficiency sweet location when left to its have gadgets. The gearbox’s shifts are unobtrusive, if a little bit pokey, retaining smoothness at the forefront of the ES 350’s driving dynamics.

Cast this technique into the sea and be performed with it.

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Just one detail older buyers could possibly not like about the ES 350 F Sport, although, is the sound. I’m not talking about motor sound — I’m referring to wind and road sound, which crops up more frequently than I’ve appear to count on from the eerily silent interiors Lexus is utilized to building, anything I’m absolutely sure longtime Lexus buyers will detect.

Basic safety will always be a important component in obtaining decisions, and to that stop, the ES will unquestionably delight house owners. Each Lexus ES will come typical with Lexus Basic safety Procedure+ two., a cadre of energetic and passive safety devices together with automated unexpected emergency braking, total-velocity adaptive cruise control, lane-keep guide, lane-departure warning and automated large beams. Everything’s articles to cling out in the qualifications until required, and when it does pop into the forefront (like, say, when you drift too close to the white line), the tech does not capture the driver by surprise with any ham-fisted actions, as they are wise and predictable in their operation. If you want blind location checking, although, you have to shell out $one,065 for a offer that incorporates energetic parking guide and rear cross-targeted visitors notify.

Down to brass tacks

The 2020 Lexus ES continues to be but a single fish in a somewhat massive pool. It may possibly have the price gain around equally sized luxury rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E-Course and BMW five Collection, but those people vehicles are also significantly sharper when pushed, even with out bringing the AMG and M divisions into the combine. The Acura RLX won’t exist for significantly for a longer time, and it under no circumstances definitely felt cohesive in the way the ES does. There is, having said that, powerful Japanese competitiveness from the Infiniti Q50, at minimum in the dynamics section — Infiniti’s telematics problem is about as sad as Lexus’. The Volvo S90 is also a significantly more interesting alternative in the driving section, and it truly is a little less complicated on the eyes, even although its design is a several years outdated now. There is also the Toyota Avalon, which is more or a lot less the exact car, except with a huge grille and Toyota badges I haven’t driven it, but colleagues say it truly is a little bit more participating than the Lexus.

Lexus has undoubtedly appear a lengthy way with the 2020 ES 350 F Sport. It is really more interesting than at any time, but in the approach of hoping to reposition its attraction, it loses a little bit of what manufactured it this sort of a preferred alternative in the 1st area. It is really not remarkable enough of a shift to alienate its main demographic entirely, as the essential fundamental plan of what constitutes a Lexus sedan is continue to there — and its gross sales quantities are continue to trouncing rivals — but I’m left asking yourself regardless of whether or not Lexus did enough to certainly make a difference in the lengthy run.