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MSRP: $39,750 - 44,285

2019 Lexus ES Review

The redesigned 2019 Lexus ES improves on the lackadaisical performance of the previous generation. When combined with its other positive attributes, including an excellent predicted reliability rating, the ES earns a spot in the top half of the competitive luxury midsize car class.

Pros & Cons

  • Cabin is superbly comfortable, quiet, and spacious
  • Upscale cabin materials
  • Smooth, well-controlled ride and handling
  • Outstanding predicted reliability rating
  • Distracting, complicated infotainment system
  • Transmission can respond slowly when downshifting

Is the Lexus ES a Good Car?

Yes, the Lexus ES is very nice luxury sedan. The cabin makes for soothing accommodations, thanks to its whisper quiet atmosphere, well-cushioned seats, and ample dimensions. With the oversized trunk, you can pack more luggage than in most rivals. Powertrain improvements not only make the ES more pleasurable to drive than the last generation but more efficient too. Because the ES has the best combination of quality and value in its class, we named it our 2019 Best Luxury Midsize Car for the Money. Lexus also offers the option to further slim your fuel costs with the ES 300h hybrid, which we review separately.

Should I Buy the Lexus ES?

The Lexus ES is more relaxed than rambunctious, and it's a good choice if you prefer comfort to aggressive power and handling. A nice array of standard features (including a full suite of advanced safety features), a high predicted reliability rating, and a comparatively low price make the ES a great value. Spirited drivers should opt for the ES F Sport, outfitted with a sport-tuned suspension system and racy-looking styling elements, or step up to a true sports sedan (such as the BMW 5 Series). We recommend spending some time with the ES' infotainment system before you buy, as this can be a make it or break it feature. If you decide the Lexus' tech is too frustrating to use on a daily basis, give the Audi A6 or Genesis G80 a try.

Compare the ES, 5 Series, and A6 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus ES?

For the most part, the new Lexus ES is a better luxury sedan than the previous generation, which was produced between the 2013 and 2018 model years. It handles better (thanks to suspension improvements), scoots faster (note the 34-horsepower increase), and offers more tech features. You'll still get plenty of cush from a used ES, so if the enhancements for 2019 don't ring your bell, consider saving some money by shopping for an older model instead.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 ES »

We Did the Research for You: 9 Reviews Analyzed

Our Lexus ES review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from nine sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been writing car reviews since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Lexus ES Cost?

As of this writing, Lexus has not announced pricing for the 2019 ES 350. It will likely be similar to the cost of the 2018 ES 350, which starts at $38,950. Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus ES Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus ES or Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

It's hard to compete with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. A jack of all trades, the E-Class can be refined yet robust, easy-going yet athletic at the same time. With its sublime interior, plethora of tech goodies, and impressive list of standard safety features, it's no wonder that the E-Class routinely ranks as one of the best midsize luxury cars. It's also quite expensive, though, with a starting price that's around $14,000 more than the ES. Don't worry if you can't afford the Mercedes: The ES is a fine runner-up.

Which Is Better: Lexus ES or Genesis G80?

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a satisfying luxury sedan, as evidenced by the Genesis G80. Its $41,750 MSRP is much closer to the ES', yet when you look at its lengthy list of standard features, it appears as though no expense was spared. Like the ES, the G80 is refined and comfortable. Though there's abundant room for front-seat passengers in the G80, the ES' extra rear-seat legroom is more appealing for adults. In the end, both the G80 and the ES are excellent values and make solid choices.

Compare the ES, E-Class, and G80 »

ES Interior

How Many People Does the ES Seat?

The ES 350 is a five-person luxury sedan. It comes standard with synthetic leather upholstery, and you can upgrade to full leather or semi-aniline leather seats. There's a charitable amount of space in both the front and back seat, and even taller passengers can get cozy. Road noise is almost nonexistent in this quiet cabin.

ES and Car Seats

To secure child safety seats, the ES comes with two sets of lower anchors (located on the outboard seats) and three tether anchors (one for every rear seat). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the system an ease-of-use rating of Good, which is one of the highest ratings.

ES Interior Quality

The 2019 Lexus ES borrows interior elements from two pricier members of its paddock, the LS and the LC, to create its elegant cabin. Materials are mostly top-notch, and include optional semi-aniline leather seats, upgraded aluminum or wood trimmings, and well-built knobs and controls.

ES Cargo Space

For 2019, the ES' trunk grows to 16.7 cubic feet, making it one of the largest trunks in the class (and only a grocery bag or so smaller than the Lexus GS). For extra convenience, add the optional hands-free power trunk lid.

ES Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The infotainment system may be the worst thing about the ES. Between the lack of a touch screen, the centrally located touchpad, and the line of identical buttons for climate controls, the driver has no choice but to take their eyes off the road to use the system. Voice controls address this issue somewhat, though there are still some hiccups with Amazon's Alexa integration. Standard features include an 8-inch display, Bluetooth, smartphone integration, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Reviewers recommend the larger 12.3-inch screen, which can be paired with navigation and a Mark Levinson sound system.

Read more about interior »

ES Performance

ES Engine: Smooth Operator

Powertrain changes for 2019 include more horsepower (now 302, up from 268) from its 3.5-liter V6 engine and an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is smoother and livelier than the last generation ES, and while this Lexus isn't a sports sedan, it delivers a satisfying amount of power in most scenarios. One minor complaint posted by a handful of reviewers is that the transmission is slow to downshift, even if you switch the Drive Mode from the gentler Eco or Normal mode into Sport.

ES Gas Mileage: More Gears for Better Fuel Economy

EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings for the 2019 ES are still pending. Lexus projects that the ES will average 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. That's a big improvement over the 2018 ES, which earned an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

ES Ride and Handling: Easy Going and Under Control

Some of the most notable improvements to the new ES generation are found in the handling department. The front-wheel-drive ES offers two suspension system options. The standard shocks do a good job controlling body movements – so there's no uncomfortable floaty feeling – while keeping the ride buttery smooth. The F Sport package adds an adaptive variable suspension system that ups the athletic abilities of the ES without creating a harsh ride.

Read more about performance »

ES Reliability

Is the Lexus ES Reliable?

The 2019 ES earns a predicted reliability rating of five out of five from J.D. Power.

Lexus ES Warranty

Lexus covers the ES with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

ES Safety

ES Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2019 ES a Top Safety Pick+, which is the organization's highest honor. It received the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests. 

ES Safety Features

Standard safety features in the ES include a pre-collision system, oncoming vehicle detection, low light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, lane tracing assist (similar to lane keeping assist), automatic high beams, and parking support alert, all of which are bundled together as the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. A rearview camera is also included. Rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind spot monitoring, a head-up display, parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera system are also available.

Read more about safety »

Which Lexus ES Model Is Right for Me?

Lexus builds two versions of the ES: the gas-only ES 350 and the hybrid ES 300h (which we review separately). You can customize your ES by adding one of four available packages, each of which builds upon the previous package. You can also cherry pick from the list of standalone factory options. Lexus has not yet released pricing for the 2019 ES or its packages.

Part of what makes the ES a good value is that it comes nicely equipped, even without any extra options. A full suite of advanced safety features, a robust sound system, and cabin pleasantries such as a power moonroof and dual-zone climate control come standard in every model. If you want to up the opulence level, we recommend opting for the Luxury package. This swaps out the synthetic leather upholstery for genuine leather seats and adds luxurious trimmings such as wood inlays and acoustic side glass.

Lexus ES

The ES 350 comes outfitted with a moonroof, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, and synthetic leather seats. Its base infotainment system includes an 8-inch display, three USB ports, Bluetooth, a CD player, HD Radio, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, voice commands, Siri Eyes Free, Google Voice Control, 10 speakers, and smartphone integration compatible with Amazon Alexa.

A comprehensive suite of advanced safety features, called Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, is included with every model. It includes a pre-collision system, oncoming vehicle detection, low light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, lane tracing assist (similar to lane keeping assist), automatic high beams, and parking support alert.

Lexus ES Premium Package

Heated and ventilated front seats, driver's seat memory, and rain-sensing windshield wipers are part of the Premium package.

Lexus ES Luxury Package

Building off the Premium package, the Luxury package adds niceties such as leather seats, ambient lighting, a wood-trimmed interior, and acoustic side glass.

Lexus ES Ultra Luxury Package

The ES Ultra Luxury package combines amenities from the lower packages with semi-aniline leather seats, a power rear sunshade, manual rear-door sunshades, an upgraded suspension system, and a hands-free power trunk lid.

Lexus ES F Sport Package

The ES F Sport starts with the Premium package and adds interior aluminum trimmings, active noise control, front and rear performance dampers, a rear spoiler, F Sport-specific seats, gauges, and pedals, and an F-Sport-specific grille.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

See 2019 Lexus ES specs and trims »

The Final Call

Lexus smartly addressed a number of shortcomings when redesigning the ES for 2019, and the corrections are appreciated. Its handling is better balanced yet still comfortable, the more powerful engine gets the car up to speed a hair faster, and fuel economy is better. If only Lexus had swapped out the infotainment system for a unit that requires less fuss, the ES would have scored higher in our luxury midsize car rankings. Still, it earns a spot in the top half of the class, and its a fine choice for buyers.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • So if you liked the old ES, you'll love this one. But if you're looking for a luxury sedan with sporting intentions, this is not the one to buy. In fact, I'd recommend the ES300h hybrid over the rest of the family, and I'd choose this car over competitors from Acura, Infiniti and Buick, but probably not Cadillac." -- Autoweek
  • On paper, all of the ingredients for another successful generation of the ES would appear to be present and accounted for. The gear is there, the power is too, and from a comfort perspective the 2019 Lexus ES 350 and ES 300h each offer the kind of composed, transparent ride that continues to be the brand's calling card. Out in the wild, however, there's not much here that isn't available elsewhere – and, in some cases, with more room, sleeker styling, and better driving dynamics for nearly the same price." -- New York Daily News
  • "All in all, I found the 2019 Lexus ES 350 to be something of a disappointment. … The improved handling is welcome, but by trying to be more like its sportier siblings, the ES has given up its base appeal—that of a nice, low-impact, easy-to-live-with luxury car. Lexus has succumbed to the mistaken idea that every luxury car has to be a Bimmer-beater, and that's too bad." -- Automobile Magazine
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