Entry price: $39,750
Price as tested: $53,768
This week, we drive the 2019 Lexus ES350 sedan that competes with the best in the business in a crowded midsize class. Delivered in F Sport trim with an entry price of $44,035, our Lexus was a pleasure to drive and provided spirited performance when called on. Notable is that even in performance F Sport trim, our ES350 still adheres to the Lexus ideology of opulence found in every Lexus assembled.
Built in Georgetown, Kentucky, and listed as a midsize by the EPA, our F Sport is loaded with both amenity and performance upgrades, including a color coordinated front bumper, sport mesh grille, 19-inch all-season tires on F Sport specific split five-spoke alloy wheels, special instrument cluster, high-tech suspension system, Hadori aluminum trim, 10-way heated and cooled seats, leather trim and special F Sport exterior upgrades including a rear spoiler.
Standard on our tester is a power moonroof, SiriusXM, 8.0-inch display, heated mirrors, LED headlights, carpeted floor mats, dual-zone air, tilt-and-telescoping, Enform WiFi with 4G, 10-speaker Lexus premium stereo, Bluetooth, USB, iPod, Apple compatibility, Smart Key with push button start, dual chrome exhaust and much more. The entry ES 350 starts at $39,750 which is a fair price and near $7,000 less that the Sport model and both have identical drivetrains.
Our tester upgrades the stereo/navigation to a top line Mark Levinson, 1,800 watt, 17-speaker setup for $3,000 more. In addition to the great sounds, you receive a 12.3-inch display and enhanced Apple CarPlay and Enform Destinations Assist with one year free subscription. Yes, this stereo upgrade is expensive, but it will engulf you in a cocoon of remarkable sounds. Consumers will also receive an Electochromic auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink along with Dynamic Voice Command.
Safety equipment? Both the Lexus Safety System-plus and Enform Safety Connect are standard fare, ensuring driver and passengers are riding in a Five Star government crash-rated vehicle. Included are all of the best safety items, from emergency collision avoidance, lane departure with steering assist and smart radar controlled cruise control. Then there are the many more Enform 2.0 additions like pre-collision and safety pedestrian detection, speed limit notification, lane track assist and more. Bottom line? All Lexus ES 350s have almost all of the modern safety equipment as standard fare.
Another notable, albeit expensive, safety/convenience option is the $1,515 Triple Beam Headlights package. This option offers a modern aero headlight package that provides outstanding added visibility thanks to automatic intelligent high-beams that switches on when the road ahead is clear. When an oncoming vehicle appears, it will temporarily switch to low-beams. A 10.5-inch head up windshield display adds $500; intuitive park assist with rear cross traffic and blind spot adds $1,065 and a power rear sunshade for $210 and a few other lesser priced options brought the final retail to $53,768 with $1,025 delivery included.
Under the hood, ES350 F Sport receives a 3.5-liter V6 developing 302 horses and 267 torque. The engine couples to an eight-speed automatic which is standard on both the Lexus F Sport 350 and entry 350 trim.
The ES350 eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters make driving the front-wheel-drive Lexus more fun and is desirable for helping find correct downshift and upshift points in more spirited situations. Thus, if you enjoy more aggressive driving when the times and conditions are proper like at open track days, F Sport is indeed a car you will appreciate. EPA numbers are good at 22 city and 31 highway and notable is F Sport’s more aggressive engine sound when RPM’s rise. Expect zero to 60 mph in about 6.6 seconds while top speed is a computer controlled 131 mph.
On the road you’ll feel safe and secure even in higher speed cornering thanks to the advanced suspension and driver suspension setting options. Additionally, you’ll enjoy the Lexus comfort factor during normal driving as overall, 350 F Sport is a great car to make a 400-mile trip in, which I did.
Inside, F Sport’s two-tone cabin is striking. It features excellent side support seating that Lexus consumers expect. The dashboard is well-done and all switches and dials are in easy reach. The aforementioned performance inspired instrument cluster is digital although the stereo is very cumbersome to learn.
On the road, expect a firmer F Sport ride thanks to a $750 extra adaptive variable suspension option and basic sport suspension setup. Standard on the ES 350 trims are three drive modes to select and the Sport/Sport+ selection is the most satisfying for performance enthusiasts. To further explain, these selections affect shock absorber settings at each wheel that are either toughened or softened up, shift points, throttle mapping and economy. Drivers can thus manually input their ride desire thanks to the Drive Mode Select dial that offers Economy (ECO), Normal and Sport/Sport+ settings.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 113.0 inches, 3,649 lb. curb weight, 16.7 cu. ft. of trunk space, 38 ft. turn circle and a 15.9 gallon fuel tank.
Check with your area dealership for any current incentives and remember that the ES 350 in non F Sport trim starts at less than $40,000.
In summary, Lexus ES300 is a great car, and in F Sport dress competes with some of the very best sport luxury sedans in the world, ala BMW, Audi, Infiniti, Acura, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Lincoln.
Currently, a zero-percent, 60-month offer for qualified consumers on the 2019 ES350 is available through Dec. 12 and since the 2020 ES350 is a near identical twin, this might be the best offer out there. If you would rather lease, $359 for 36 months with $3,999 down is also available.
Likes: Performance, great interior, Lexus opulence.
Dislikes: Front grille, confusing infotainment controls, expensive options.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2019 Lexus ES350 F Sport
Entry price: $39,750