By: James Groth / Miles Ahead Communications
Winding and scenic roads just outside of Nashville, TN provided an ideal setting for the media introduction of the seventh-generation Lexus ES. For 2019 the lineup features the V6 ES 350, ES 300h hybrid and for the first time the ES F-SPORT. At time of writing there is an embargo on the driving impressions of the three models tested. This is a preview of the features of the ES line-up with a close up focus on the ES 300h. A shorter version first appeared in print at Ron Cogan’s The Green Car Journal.
Project Chief Designer, Yasuo Kajino sums up the newly designed ES in two distinct and fitting words as “provocative elegance”. ES has the all new Global Architecture-K platform resulting in 2.6 in increase in length, 1.8 in width and a wider front and rear tracks. Perhaps for customers the most useful increase is the two-inch longer wheelbase to 113 inches. The ES most striking angle is its profile that shows low hood and roof lines, made possible by the new GA-K chassis slated A and C pillars.
Lexus with its Hybrid Drive is the luxury hybrid leader. The ES 300h has earned a new title for the mid-level executive sedan segment, as the newly crowned “Class Leader in Fuel Economy with 44 mpg” this is Lexus ES 300h”. The manufactures estimated figure is 44 mpg combined. City44/Hwy45/Combied44 are manufacture’s estimate too as is a range of nearly 600 miles. The ES 300h is what Prius and Prius Prime owners will be naturally be moving up to as move up in life while staying socially responsible.
The rear compartment of the ES has increased size and headroom usually only found optional in long-wheelbase high end cars. This means its easier for anything from adding a baby seat, to easy entry and exit for elders to being more suitable for a double date on the town.
From the front it’s the ‘Spindle’ grill dominates and is enhanced by the slim L-shaped LED projector headlights.
Tranquil, free of exterior noise is how I found the interior to be, 93% of the floor has sound deadening insulation. There are three color schemes, four trims, and three material options for the seats. The trim can had in three kinds of wood plus Striated Black and metallic. The trim can had in three kinds of wood plus Striated Black and metallic. To please audiophiles there’s the optional Mark Levinson audio with 1,800 watts through 17 speakers. The standard audio has ten speakers and will satisfy most needs. The new suction-type ventilated cooling seats had me as comfortable and entertained as any at the new movie theaters.
The 2019 ES 300h layout is front engine with front wheel drive. Power is derived from a 2.5 liter in-line 4-cylinder running on the Atkinson cycle with an aluminum block and heads producing176 hp @5700 rpm. The compression ratio is high at 14.0:1yet only 87 octane unleaded is required. Fuel is delivered by direct and port injection. Torque is (SAE) rated at 163 lb.-ft.@3,600 rpm. The emission certificate is SULEV 30.
The nickel-metal Hydride battery has 204 cells and produces 29.1kW/39hp. The electric motor is smaller and more dense and is mated to an all new hybrid transaxle. Combined total horsepower is 215. Important for the improved handling was the moving of the battery from the trunk to under the rear seat. This improves front to rear weight distribution while adding trunk space equal to the gas ES at 16.7 cu ft. Auto Glide Control (AGC) has been added for drivers who misjudge drag imposed by regenerative braking by moving back and forth between pedals approaching a stop sign. The AGC slows the ES 300h at a more predicative rate by entering a “coast “ mode adding to overall energy efficiencies. Sport mode enhances acceleration by boosting torque at low speeds.
The 0-60 mph is 8.1 sec for the ES 300h, as compared to 6.6 sec for the 302 hp ES 350. Top speed is electronically limited to 112 mph with the ES 300h and 131 mph with the ES 350. The coefficient of drag of these sleek ES sedans is a highly efficient 0.29 and drops down to an exceptional 0.26 for the F SPORT. The low CD contributes to the outstanding fuel economy of the entire ES line-up.
The six-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters is electronically controlled and continuously variable. Final drive is 3.389 compared to the 2.561 of the 8-speed V6 ES 350. The steering is electric rack and pinion with 2.7 turns lock to lock and positions the assist directly on the rack for more precise feedback. The curb to curb turning radius is outstanding at under twenty feet. Weight distribution and curb weight were not available for the 300h. However, the ES 350 weight is a light 3,649 lbs, distribution front to rear is 61/39. Expect the ES 300h to be approximately a few hundred pounds heavier.
The Multimedia System is positioned high enough not to distract. Standard is a 8 inch wide and 12.3 inches with the optional Navigation package. The ES is the first Lexus offering Apple Car Play allowing for controlling a iPhone via the dash display or Siri Eyes Free voice control. ES is also Amazon Alexa enabled for Android phones and iPhones in October.
The standard wheel is 17 x 7.5 J split 10-spoke aluminum w/machine finish. There two types of optional 18 x 8J aluminum wheels offered one with a machined finish and the one with Hyper Chrome coating. The standard all-season tire is 215/55R17 with a 235/45R18 all-season as an option. Trie suppliers will be Michelin and Bridgestone.
One of the ways Lexus demonstrates it strong commitment to safety is with its standard braking and control systems, ones that are usually only found on considerable more expensive vehicles. Along with the expected four wheel disc brakes all around with ABS are Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control(TRAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC). Front discs are 12 in ventilated discs. and the rears are 11.1 in solid discs. One-third of the sales are projected to be conquests from other manufactures with the ES 300h representing 15% of US ES sales.
Outstanding fuel consumption, a striking design, first class amenities with rear compartment space found in limos. Starting at $42,000 the ES 300h will have buyers considering switching brands.