Reciprocating to the scaling market dynamism and consumer taste, Lexus has completely redesigned the 2019 ES, with an upgrade in almost every department. Although it still shares its architecture with the Avalon and Camry but there is nothing entry-level about the ES anymore. Apart from the stretched out body length, allowing for more interior and cargo space on the inside, the junior Lexus in its seventh generation feels much more elegant and plush.
On the inside, the ES now feels more roomy and the two tone leather upholstery screams premiumness. However for that leather soaked interior one needs to upgrade to the Ultra Luxury trim. There’s a Camry inspired sleeker “Y” shaped dashboard which goes well with the overall interior layout. The steering wheel has been redesigned too and is also leather wrapped, whereas a large infotainment display now sits atop the dashboard. The dashboard is covered with soft touch stitched leather, stretching all the way to the door panels whereas the wood and metal inserts are more streamlined than before.
The infotainment system has been upgraded too, and along with a plethora of standard features there are also optional niceties such as a panoramic sunroof and ambient lighting, as you move up the trim order.
Seating and comfort
The seventh generation ES is a huge step up from the previous generations..Its not only the exterior which adorns a fine toned luxury sheet, but Lexus has put behind equal effort to sync the interiors with the exterior presence. Spot one gliding downtown or hop inside its affluent interiors, it will instantly remind you of its larger sibling, the LS, in-fact some of the interior elements have been straight away picked from the LS.
The interior of the new ES is a roomy affair. The 1.6 inches wider and 2.0 inches longer wheelbase translates into generous legroom and headroom for the passengers both front and back, however taller passengers might crave for a bit more head room which is traded off for panoramic sunroof and a sloping roofline.
The seats of the new ES come with semi-aniline leather upholstery which feels soft and smooth. The front seats are wide and cushy with good all round support and also get 10 way power adjustment, whereas options include a 14 way adjustable seats as well as ones with heated or ventilated. However considered basic in today's luxury cars, 4 way lumbar support is not available as standard. The rear seat sits low to the ground to tackle the low roof-line and can comfortably seat two adults, though adding a third person would be a tight business. The rear seats have good incline level and also offer ample under thigh support, and yes you can recline them, in case you want a light snap, stretching yourself over long hauls.
Drivers convenience is attentively accomplished with easily accessible knobs and switches and thankfully the new ES gets physical buttons for most of the amenities. The lowered chassis assures easy entry and exit to shorter passengers, however taller occupants need to rumple up while getting in. The ES also scores ‘good’ on outward visibility, even with a high beltline and thick pillars. Thanks to the lowered seat and hood positioning, high roof line and large windows which promise generous outside visibility.
Shift to drive mode and once the wheels start rolling, you start feeling the impressive build quality and comfort level of a Lexus. The Japanese marque is known for its smooth and silent engagement and the new ES is no different.
The ride quality is supple, smooth and remarkably quiet, thanks to upgraded front suspension and the stiffer architecture which soaks up almost everything on the road. What makes the ES extremely silent is the newly developed dynamic control shocks and now the sound deadening material covers up 93% of the floor pan, up from 68%. What further enhances the insulation is the underbody covers and front fender liners. Apart from these, the use of structural adhesive has also been doubled to minimize vibrations and noise.
Cargo and luggage utility
Yes, there's something happening in the cargo bay as well. To maximize cargo space, the battery pack has been now placed underneath the rear seat. This relocation opens up 16.7 Cu.ft on space in the trunk, in line with the V6 powered ES 350. The cargo space is not the best in its class, however 16.7 Cu.ft is generous enough for a hybrid. However, disappointingly, you won't be able to pass through longer items since the rear seats don’t fold down. That’s the compromise you will have to settle with for the hybrid setup.
Smaller storage spaces inside the cabin has also been well taken care of. The space inside the centre console and glove box is modest enough and so are the door bins. However the rear armrest could have housed two cuppies, but yes to compensate that there are some alternate cup holders too.
Infotainment and other features
At the heart of seventh generation ES lies a standard 8.0 inch floating touchscreen on top of the dash and a 7.0 inch digital instrument panel behind the wheel.It now does get Apple Carplay as standard along with Siri eyes free voice control, but misses out again on android auto. A one year complimentary Wi-Fi hotspot is also standard which allows you to connect up to five devices to your ES. The base trim also gets a 10 speaker Pioneer surround sound system.
These are the standard equipment in the base trim though, however if you want to pack your ES with up-to-date goodies, you can either move up the trim order, or pick from a range of optional essentials. The options include a navigation package which includes a 12.3 inch infotainment screen with navigation, a 10.2 inch head-up display, 360 degree camera, 17 speaker Mark-Levinson stereo audio.
In terms of infotainment, the ES does come bundled with most of the delights that a present day customer would expect from a luxury car. However tech has never been an area where Lexus excels and the infotainment again feels fumbled up and behind the competition. The infotainment screen is sharp and crisp but is let down by the grisly user interface. What further worsens things is the mouse like touchpad operation of the infotainment screen. The touchpad controller is not only off base but is also distracting, where the driver needs to take eyes off the road, onto the screen every time, to operate it.