This year, Lexus has come to the market with what will be known at the seventh generation of its ever popular ES 350 entry-level luxury sedan. Not only that, they have finally added an F-Sport trim level to the line this year.
We have found that every time we get to drive a Lexus and it has F-Sport at the end of its name, it will include nothing but joy and pure driving pleasure — if for no other reason than the fact that there is always extra DNA injected to make the vehicle worthy of the F-Sport moniker.
This was definitively the case with the new ES 350 F-Sport, being the first time that the ES has been offered with an F-Sport trim. The designers and engineers now have plenty of experience with other vehicles in the line giving them the F DNA. It seemed to us the perfect time to offer the extras that come with this trim in the entry-level luxury sedan.
This new sedan was redesigned using the all-new Global Architecture-K platform developed by Toyota that gave the designers more flexibility in creating an ES that is as pleasing to the eye as it is to all the other senses when engaged in driving it.
This also resulted in a 1.8-inch wider body that sits 2.2 inches lower to the ground. Also pushes the wheels towards the four corners of the sedan giving it a much more athletic and grounded stance.
What this all equates to is the ES is going to get second looks from everyone as it heads down the road, as we found to be true around town and especially in parking lots where people were always asking what kind of Lexus we were driving. Getting much of this new DNA from the LS flagship, the ES has definitely moved up the Lexus food chain with this new look.
Project chief designer Yasuo Kajino describes the look of the ES as “provocative elegance.” Kajino says, “The ES has always been an elegant luxury sedan. For this generation, we have added daring design elements that challenge the traditional expectations of buyers.”
To this end, the F-Sport borrows its grill directly from the LS model and is completely made of a mesh pattern instead of the normal vertical lines that is completed in a jet black finish (with this same mesh making its way into the vertical cutouts under the front headlights).
Lighting all around is LED and perfectly sculpted into the body panels to continue delivering the head-turning looks. We found the entire package to be nothing less than a work of automotive art.
The ES is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that with its new D-4S fuel injection system pushes horsepower over the 300 mark to settle in a 302 ponies with 267 ft. lbs. of torque. It is all connected through and all new eight-speed direct-shift automatic transmission that would slip seamlessly through the gears. It could also skip gears if needed during different types of acceleration and would use different shift-point ratios depending on the drive mode selected.
Yes, the new F-Sport came with normal, eco and sport modes for driving. Of course, we found the sport mode produced the most exhilarating driving mode. Over a week with the ES we managed a very nice 27 mpg, just over where the EPA said we should come in. The new version of the 350 has definitely become a very engaging vehicle to take out on the open road or even just around town to run a few errands.
The F-Sport interior has taken on a whole new feel of luxury and excitement, taking many of its cues from the LC coupe and flagship LS sedan with the entire cockpit designed to be what Lexus calls Seat in Control driving. After gliding into the driver’s seat, the armrests are in the perfect location to support the elbows and every control is within easy access, allowing the driver to keep one hand on the wheel at all times.
The interior of the F-Sport is made of a fine deep, red leather that gave the ES just that extra little addition of sport DNA inside. The huge 12.3-inch display sits high in the center dash and can be configured to display all kinds of information from navigation to the many creature comfort control systems. It is now controlled by the Lexus touchpad with a new haptic feedback that is supposed to make it easier to use.
This touchpad would the only complaint we had, as it still has a tendency to skip around the menu options and can sometimes be hard to trigger on the right menu point. We do like it better than the old mouse-like device, but it still needs some upgrades.
The dashboard is where the F-Sport really excelled, getting a new 8-inch wide LCD display with a huge center tachometer that has a digital speedometer in the center. With the push of a button on the steering wheel it would slide to the left, allowing more information to be displayed on the side. This type of setup was first introduced on the Lexus LC coupe and is really quite a cool display.
The ES also comes with all the standard safety features that were previously part of the Lexus package, along with a new one called Lane Trace Assist that looks at the lane markings and keeps the EX centered in the lane. Paired with the radar cruise control it makes driving in heavy traffic a breeze.
Looking for a great way to get into the luxury sedan market, the new ES350 F-Sport comes with all the right DNA strands to keep everyday driving a new and exciting experience with every drive. The family vacation or just a weekend getaway will never be the same and getting there in the ES will be the only way to go!
Base Price $50,620
Price as Driven $61,315