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2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Review – Skipping Early Supper for Step Class

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Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

three.5-liter DOHC V6 (302 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm; 267 lb-ft @ four,seven hundred rpm)

Eight-velocity automated, entrance-wheel drive

22 metropolis / 31 freeway / 25 mixed (EPA Score, MPG)

10.9 metropolis, 7.5 freeway, 9.four mixed. (NRCan Score, L/100km)

18.1 (noticed mileage, MPG)

Base Worth: $forty five,one hundred sixty (U.S) / $50,975 (Canada)

As Examined: $50,810 (U.S.) / $fifty six,975 (Canada)

Costs embrace $1,025 vacation spot cost in america and $2,one hundred seventy five for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, due to cross-border gear variations, can’t be instantly in contrast.

First impressions have a method of biting you within the ass. After seeing the trailer for the primary time, I declared with absolute conviction that a film a few sluggish-witted Southerner who blunders his approach by means of a tumultuous interval in American historical past would go away theatre seats as empty as retailer cabinets earlier than a Class 5 hurricane. Alas, Forrest Gump was not the colossal flop I predicted.

Nor was the out of the blue sportified Lexus ES 350 that appeared in my driveway the embarrassing wannabe I envisioned after studying my tester wasn’t the basic ES 350. (Testers are not often ever basic, sadly.) All new for 2019, Lexus’s most conservative passenger car features not only a model of the brand new TNGA platform shared with the equally new Toyota Avalon, but in addition the F Sport badge discovered elsewhere within the Lexus lineup.

Whereas dressing up conventional sedans appears to be a compulsion at Toyota today, this ES 350 F Sport, pink leather-based and all, managed to throw numerous assumptions again in my face. Some … however not all.

Image: Steph Willems

Oh sure. I used to be ready, based mostly on previous experiences with new Toyota merchandise, to seek out the seats snug, interior quantity and energy enough, the eight-velocity a hunter (however not all the time a gatherer), and dealing with much better suited for boulevard cruising than impromptu hooning. And, in lots of respects, proper I used to be.

For many who don’t comply with such issues, the F Sport badge brings 19-inch wheels shod in forty-collection rubber, further drive modes, tuned suspension (there’s a brand new rear multi-hyperlink setup on all ES trims, with out there adaptive dampers reserved for F-Sport consumers), a trunklid spoiler, plus numerous different add-ons, not the least of which is the elective purple perforated leather-based adorning the seats and numerous interior surfaces. Who is that this ES kidding, I assumed — there’s a declining variety of sedans through which motoring fanatics wish to get their kicks, and the ES most undoubtedly ain’t considered one of them.

One other prediction was that every part that makes this sedan an F Sport would cancel out — or at the least water down — the mannequin’s in any other case pleasing attributes. Just like the upcoming TRD Camry and Avalon, Toyota didn’t uncover new ponies for this particular trim, although the returning powerplant for all non-hybrid ES fashions did. The three.5-liter V6 now generates 302 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, up from 268 hp and 248 lb-ft. Toyota’s Direct Shift eight-velocity automated (a unit I bitched about within the supposedly sporty Avalon XSE) handles the cog juggling.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

However one thing bizarre occurred after choosing up the car. After a few temporary, wintry stints behind the wheel (climate was an absolute pisser the week I had the factor) I noticed the seventh-era sedan was a strong piece of labor. Nor, I ought to add, was it a humiliation. It simply wasn’t a sports activities sedan, although I had already gathered that.

Mercifully, and in contrast to the Camry TRD, Lexus remembered that ES sedans got here from the manufacturing unit with a sure ingrained dignity, so the posh division determined to protect it. Outwardly, the car’s go-quick trappings are delicate. The spoiler is a low-profile affair, and the engaging 19-inchers come wearing a lovely shade of graphite. Amidst all of the desperation within the sedan phase, Lexus remembered who actually buys this factor — and it isn’t your boss’s 26-yr-previous punk son.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

As for the design, properly, Lexus isn’t giving up on that spindle grille. Your complete face is a set of barbs fired in the direction of some extent eight inches distant from the entrance badge; good or dangerous, you make the selection. It’s distinctive, no less than. Once more, mercifully, Lexus confined the drama to the nostril and rear — a modest quantity of creasing separates this car’s flanks from that of its staid and slab-sided predecessor, however the beltline stays flat and formal. The IS continues to be your go-to for overwrought styling.

General, the brand new ES stretches an additional 2.6 inches stem to stern, with most of that new size residing between the axles. Rear-seat occupants rejoice. It’s wider, too, by almost two inches, and two-tenths of an inch decrease.

Far much less delicate is the interior, at the least with the purple leather-based. You get used to that in a rush, although — to those eyes, the redesigned cabin is sort of a horny place to spend time. Snug, too. Agency and reasonably bolstered sport seats supply good decrease again and thigh help. Legroom and headroom abounds each entrance and aft — I didn’t come near scraping my scalp within the rear seat, and I’m 6’four″. Surrounding you’re tender-contact supplies interspersed with lengthy expanses of actual aluminum trim that look nice when contrasted with the 2-tone leather-based. Occupants are greeted by a prolonged 12.three-inch infotainment display providing a vivid show, and the sedan’s typical shifter selects “D” with out taking you on a complicated journey.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

It’s all fairly calming, actually. That’s, till it comes time to make use of the infotainment system’s touchpad controller. As my instructional background incorporates zero programs in mind surgical procedure, safecracking, or classical piano, shifting that indicator throughout the display typically proved a chore. Typically the indicator would overshoot; different occasions, it stayed fastened in place. In the meantime, your gaze is directed away the street. Radio lovers may miss the tuning knob that disappears for 2019. Additionally irksome is a drive mode selector positioned on a knob protruding from the dashtop like a periscope deal with. Being lengthy of leg, this meant reaching.

Perhaps it’s simply my drained retinas, however the out there 10.2-inch head-up show, whereas shiny, left me feeling cross-eyed after each look.

Is it even value your time toggling the drive selector to Sport or Sport +? Properly, you don’t have to. With this newest ES, burying your foot in default mode calls up a good — however not overwhelming — surge of energy, typically with a slight lag from the Direct Shift gearbox. This lag is most obvious if the hammer falls whereas coasting at average speeds in Regular or Eco mode; dialing up both sport mode drops you down a cog seemingly always, and locks out seventh and eighth. The intrusive searching seen in previous Lexus testers (ahem, RX 350) was fortunately absent.

I suppose these with a slight penchant for aggressive driving might depart it in Sport + their entire lives and go to city on the paddle shifters (throttle-blipping makes for speedier than anticipated, however nonetheless not DCT-like, downshifts). Or, maybe they’d simply leapfrog the ES in favor of one thing extra partaking and objective-constructed. One thing rear-drive, with a bit extra off-the-line punch.

For others, F Sport is perhaps all of the personalization they want.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Apart from enjoying musical chairs with shift factors, firming up the already weighty steering, and swapping the digital tach to a sportier format, passing 5,000 rpm in Sport + turns the tach ring right into a glowing orange pumpkin, complemented (in a fashion of talking) by artificially enhanced engine roar pumped into the cabin.

Oh, how I laughed the primary time this occurred.

Remember that the F Sport does its mainstream luxurious obligation by preserving issues peaceable in any respect different occasions. Minus these temporary moments of autotuned enlightenment, engine and street noise is sort of muted, and you may’t assist however discover the home windows seal shut like recent rubber baffles on a Welrod pistol. Noise/vibration/harshness is slight, even in chilly climate and on dangerous roads. Lexus deserves further kudos for putting in a meaty steering wheel that’s among the many most snug I’ve ever grasped, and the brand new steering rack conspires with re-angled entrance struts to maintain the car monitoring virtually eerily straight at excessive speeds.

Whereas the brand new platform, rear suspension, and additional bracing lends the sedan an exceptionally strong street really feel, it’s too dangerous Lexus didn’t dial in an additional serving to of suggestions for these holding the wheel. However is that this what ES consumers actually want? Much less cocooning? I’d hazard a guess and say … no. Suffice it to say Lexus struck a great stability right here, leaving drivers feeling assured and in management in most motoring conditions, and perhaps a couple of outdoors the norm.

The car did shock me in a single key area. With massive hoops at every nook and a suspension dialed in the direction of sport, damaged pavement didn’t upset the serenity almost as a lot as I’d assumed. Cornering shows little in the best way of wallow. True, I didn’t discover the adaptive dampers firming up in Sport + mode, however that’s in all probability as a result of the car likes staying flat always. Maybe a spin on a extra serpentine street would convey it to the forefront.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Nonetheless, that’s not the place you’ll discover this sedan. Neither is it a spot the car actually compels you to hunt out.

Finally, the brand new ES is a vehicle that doesn’t hand over its plushness or competency in favor of satisfying the mature purchaser who likes enjoying Dad-left-me-his-car-let’s-crank-this-bitch occasionally. To take action can be a dereliction of obligation. As an alternative, the F Sport trim merely provides a contact of spice to an improved dish, and appears good doing it.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC


Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

[Images: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

– 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Review – Skipping Early Supper for Step Class –

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