The 2019 Lexus ES 350 is a great entry-level luxury sedan that delivers great looks, a very nice interior, a quiet and comfortable ride and finally comes with Apple CarPlay to deliver the technology that you expect in a luxury car. Unfortunately it still relies on a touchpad to control the infotainment system that isn’t as easy to use as a touchscreen. While Android Auto isn’t on board, you can use Alexa with your Android phone by pressing the voice control option
Available in four main trim levels and a hybrid option, the 2019 Lexus ES 350 starts at $39,600 and the ES 350 Luxury that we tested starts at $42,255. You can also opt for a more dynamic drive with the 2019 ES 350 F Sport.
Is the 2019 Lexus ES 350 a Good Car?
With a completely new design, more power, better technology and a healthy dose of safety features the 2019 Lexus ES 350 is a very good luxury sedan. It ticks all the right boxes at the entry-level, and even though the infotainment controls are frustrating to use while driving and there are more hard plastics in the cabin than we’d hope to see it’s still a great buy.
2019 Lexus ES 350 Tech and Safety
Lexus finally adds support for Apple CarPlay to the Lexus ES 350, a feature we are seeing make its way further into the Lexus lineup. It is great to be able to easily use apps, Siri and navigation through Waze, especially on longer trips. The catch is that you need to use the touchpad control system to use CarPlay in a Lexus instead of a touch screen. This is serviceable, but it is nowhere near as easy as using a touch screen and it is distracting to use while driving. I found myself leaving the controller on the Siri button as much as possible so I could quickly access voice controls. Lexus is moving in the right direction, but it’s time for a touch screen or new control option with CarPlay. There is no Android Auto support at this time. It is not clear if we will see it added at a later date, and there are no firm plans.
Android users do get first crack at Alexa support through the steering wheel voice button. This allows you to perform Alexa skills with your voice while driving. It is only available on Android right now, but it is coming to iPhone in the future.
Bluetooth connectivity is good with an easy pairing process. Phone calls sound above average, and the limited road and wind noise help you carry on longer conversations without asking the caller to repeat themself. The 10 speaker Pioneer sound system handled my audiobooks, alt rock and rap as well as my wife’s Sirius XM Turbo addiction. It’s not as nice as the Mark Levinson systems in some Lexus models, but it gets the job done well.
All 2019 ES 350 trim levels include Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 standard. This suite delivers a pre-collision system that includes a new low light pedestrian detection feature and daytime cyclist detection. It can help automatically brake the ES350 when it detects a potential front collision. You also get All speed dynamic cruise control and steering assist that will keep you at the right speed in traffic and keep you centered in your lane. This pairs up with Lane Departure Alert, Road Sign Assist and Intelligent high beams that all make driving the 2019 Lexus ES 350 a little safer and a little easier.
Driving the 2019 Lexus ES 350
While the new Lexus ES 350 looks sportier than the model it replaces, it’s not a sports sedan like the Kia Stinger. It’s definitely more of a tourer that cruises and carries you comfortably to your destination. The steering is more responsive than on older models, which is very nice. There is a more connected feel and the ride quality is connected yet comfortable. It’s nearly identical to the 2019 Toyota Avalon, and that’s a good thing.
I tested the Luxury trim level with the 3.5L V6 that brings 302 horsepower to the mix and 267 lb.-ft of torque. This power arrives quickly when you need it, making highway travel a breeze and passing other cars very simple, while it never quite rises to the level of sporty driving. If you go with the F Sport trim you get an Adaptive Variable Suspension and Sport S+ driving mode as well as other styling upgrades. We weren’t able to test how this changes the driving characteristics. The ES 350 is front wheel drive only.
The 2019 ES 350 Luxury is rated at 22 MPG city, 33 MPG highway and 26 MPG combined for the trim level tested and that’s in line with what I observed while testing the ES 350. The F Sport trim level is similar, but the highway efficiency drops to 31 MPG. The hybrid options all deliver 43 MPG city, 45 MPG highway and 44 MPG combined.
2019 Lexus ES 350 Design and Interior
The all new design for the 2109 ES 350 is stunning. The spindle grille looks great and fits the front end well. While the Avalon’s grille looks massive, the ES 350 hits the perfect proportions. With the new lines the ES 350 form a great marriage of upscale and sporty style. The available F Sport Trim dials up the looks even more if you feel the need to take things up another notch.
The attention to detail and smart looks carry over to the interior where sweeping lines on the dash accentuate the stitched leather and wood accents. There are still some harder plastic areas in the cabin, but overall it’s beautiful and flows nicely. The seats are comfortable, controls are easy to reach and even the backseat is roomy enough for adult passengers.
One catch to the back seat is that the seats don’t fold down, so you cannot get any added cargo space to pass through from the trunk. The trunk is big enough for luggage and groceries, but you won’t be sliding in a long item like you can in most sedans.
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