2019 Lexus ES First Drive Video: A Massive Improvement (Mostly)

2019 Lexus ES

When Lexus launched in 1989, it only had two models in its lineup. One of them was the ES — so the sedan has a long history with the brand, and the newly redesigned-for-2019 ES is the seventh generation of the car. It's been changed inside and out with a new platform, new powertrains and updated styling.

Related: 2019 Lexus ES 350 and ES 300h First Drive: So Close to Greatness

The ES shares the most in common with the Toyota Avalon, which was also redesigned for 2019 — and the two share more than just a passing resemblance. They have the same wheelbase, same overall length and mechanically identical powertrains, just with some slight tuning differences.

From the side, the two models look fairly identical, but the ES has a few styling cues that let you know it's a Lexus — starting with the grille. Most versions of the ES come with a spindle grille with vertically oriented slats; if you opt for an F-Sport model, you'll get a more aggressive overall look, but also a 3-D sort of chainmail mesh grille that's more in-your-face.

The ES will be offered in gas and hybrid versions. The ES 350 gas version of the car will get a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 302 horsepower. The ES 300h features Lexus' fourth-generation hybrid system with a total output of 215 hp, and its estimated fuel economy matches the Avalon's at 44 mpg combined.

Acceleration from the gas engine is adequate — I wouldn't say it's mind-blowing, and that actually makes me prefer the hybrid version because you get that big advantage of fuel economy. Now, there is one catch going with the ES: It's going to be front-wheel drive only. Pretty much all of its other competitors offer some sort of all-wheel drive, so it's weird that Lexus wouldn't choose to put some kind of AWD system in the ES — and that makes it stick out for the wrong reasons.

For more info, including full driving and interior impressions, watch the video below.

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