Remember when the Lexus ES was first introduced? Neither do we.
You see, the Lexus ES has had a repute for being as lacking excitement as it is sleep-inducingly comfortable for any road trips. But its undisputable quality and luxury have made it one of Lexus’ best seller 15 years in a row.
Lexus wants to change that. To attract younger buyers, the company started completely afresh for 2018 with a design that’s sportier, sexier, and drenched in tech. But can the new ES shake its vanilla reputation to appease the sweet-tooth of younger buyers?
We got a chance to find out and drive the Lexus ES 250 version. Competitors range from less expensive versions of the BMW 3-Series, to the Mercedes Benz C Class.
All The Tech Inside
As a product of Lexus, Japan’s premiere luxury automaker, technology takes a front seat in the new ES. All ES models come with Lexus’ Safety System + 2.0, standardizing everything from Pre-Collision System, which can sense oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists during the daytime; to radar-guided cruise control with distance control; Lane Tracing Assist; Keeping Assist; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Road Sign Assist; Blind Spot Monitoring; a panoramic camera system, and automatic Intelligent High Beam headlights.
We can only image that the optional Mark Levinson 1800-watt hi-fi audio system with 12 speakers is incredible, while our test unit was equipped with the not-so-shabby standard eight-speaker Pioneer system. And for the first time in any Toyota or Lexus vehicle, Apple CarPlay is standard on the Lexus ES.
Once seated inside the vehicle, we couldn’t help but notice that all passangers sit lower, but still get plenty of room as the wheelbase grows by two inches. Faultless build quality continues in Lexus fashion, but cranked up a notch. For once, the switchgear doesn’t feel like it’s picked directly from Toyota’s parts bins. It’s safe to say that this is the loveliest, most stylish interior we’ve ever seen in a Lexus ES.
Except for Lexus ES’s infotainment control. It uses a haptic touchpad, which can be difficult to learn, and fussy even when you’re familiar it. Nonetheless, everything is displayed very vividly, and in high definition on a large center stack-mounted screen.
Underpinning the 2019 Lexus ES’s new exterior and interior design is a completely new “GA-K platform,” spun from Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). A few years back, current President of Toyota Motor Corporation, Akio Toyoda, a professed lover of speed and motorsports, promised to reinvigorate the entire range of Toyota and Lexus vehicles with more driving performance and sportier characters.
The new platform lowers the roofline and overall center of gravity, allowing engineers to widen the car’s track and extend its wheelbase. The result is meaningfully improved handling and road-hugging driving dynamics across the board. No, really, we’re not joking. The Lexus ES in all forms is a genuinely pleasant car to drive on some curvy bits, and drastically better at handling them than the previous model.
This is also thanks to a special new shock absorber design featuring a new “swing valve” that improves dampening functions and control, translating to way better steering response, vehicle stability, ride comfort, and suspension composure.
The base ES 250 model is Lexus’ bread and butter, so it can’t afford to mess this one up. The all-new 2019 Lexus ES completely shatters the old ES’s reputation for being a complete bore behind the wheel, or even to look at. Its dramatic new design is well proportioned and cohesive, without being seemingly over-styled, which Japanese auto designers have a habit of doing. And the changes go more than skin deep, making the newest ES the best-handling model ever. Even for younger buyers, this is now a sedan worth a second look. The Lexus ES 250 EX retails from R 593 300
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