Lexus hadn’t fully redesigned the ES since the 2013 model year, and its age was starting to show. From the ride quality to the cabin controls and exterior silhouette, the ES was falling behind top competitors in the midsize segment. Few would call the old model athletic, but the new ES moves in this direction and takes more visual risks, especially in the new F Sport trim. Did Lexus go too far, or is the new ES a refreshing change from its conservative predecessor?
Up front, the 2019 Lexus ES features wider headlamps with three light clusters instead of two. The hoodline is now 2 inches lower than before. Lexus’ controversial spindle grille carries over to the new ES, but it’s even bigger this time around and available in two versions on the new model. The standard ES has vertical slats that orient toward the central Lexus badge, a much more interesting look than the straight horizontal slats on the old model. F Sport versions receive a blacked-out grille pattern with L-shaped clusters and larger cut-outs at the corners of the front fascia.
Lexus says the car follows the design of a four-door coupe and has a “fast roofline.” But we think it looks like a traditional sedan, even from the side profile. At this angle, you can really notice the new curved hood. The roofline is slightly more dramatic than before, we’ll admit, and the side window tapers off near the rear wheel more sharply than before. The new ES is 2.6 inches longer and 1.8 inches wider, with a 2.0-inch longer wheelbase. But since the model looks more athletic, it’s easy to see the new car as smaller than before, at least from the photos.
In the rear, the chunky taillights from the old model are gone, replaced by triangular lights that taper toward the center of the trunk lid. Character lines flow down from the taillights, adding visual interest. The cut lines for the trunk are now more rounded rather than boxy like on the old model. F Sport models receive a sultry rear spoiler.
Big and bulky was the theme of the old ES interior. The embedded infotainment screen, center console, and audio and climate control sections, and even the entire dashboard, took up a lot of space. Now, the ES features a new display that sits atop the dash. Instead of the old mouse-like controller, there is a touchpad controlling the infotainment screen on the new model. Lexus rearranged the buttons in a more compact and cohesive pattern. If you’re one of those people who loved the look of the classic dial clock on the old model, don’t distress because it’s still there. It has just been moved to the side of the infotainment screen rather than below the screen in between the air vents. But we’re not noticing a CD player on this new model.
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