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2018 vs. 2019 Lexus ES: What’s the Difference?

  • The 2019 Lexus ES is all new with a new look and a new platform.

  • The 2018 and the 2019 Lexus ES both strike a nice balance between luxury and value.

  • Lexus brought the price of the hybrid ES closer to its conventional counterpart for the 2019 model year.

You have a lot of choices when it comes to luxury sedans. Some are sporty, some are ultra luxurious, some are big and some are small. In a crowded field, the Lexus ES is a bit of a Goldilocks in the world of luxury sedans, as it’s not too big, not too small and not too expensive. For a lot of shoppers, it’s just right.

Some might find its relative lack of driving excitement a let down, but if you just want a comfortable and stylish way to get from point A to point B, a Lexus ES is one of the most pragmatic choices in luxury cars. This midsize sedan got a nice update for 2019, so let’s take a look at what’s new.

Exterior

The exterior styling is actually one of the more subtle changes that have been made to the 2019 Lexus ES. The untrained eye might not notice a difference in passing since both have a big, bold spindle grille front and center. The grilles aren’t identical, but they’re similar in shape. The lighting surrounding the grille gets a more modern look and the body is more handsomely sculpted throughout the new car.

The ES got slightly bigger for the 2019 model year. The new car is one inch wider and three inches longer than its predecessor with its height remaining identical. That makes it a little bit longer than some of its midsize competitors like the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ.

Both the 2018 and the 2019 Lexus ES have a design that’s good for looking stylish while keeping a low profile. Not everyone likes the spindle grille that’s prominent on the nose of every modern Lexus, but we think it works nicely on the new ES.

Interior

The interior of the previous-generation ES was starting to look a little dated by 2018, but the new generation brings a major refresh to the interior. They’re both nice, comfortable cabins, but the 2019 model brings a new design, nicer materials and more technology. The new cockpit is more driver oriented with the controls aimed toward the driver, making it a little more ergonomically friendly.

The 2019 model also has more room on the inside. It has a lower riding position, but the overall height of the car is unchanged, which means more headroom for everybody. The seats are comfortable and are available with heating and ventilation, plus you get a very quiet ride in the new ES.

For 2019, a good interior got even better in the midsize Lexus ES.

Mechanicals

All Lexus ES 350 models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine for both 2018 and 2019 model years, but they have different specifications. Both models are also available with an efficient hybrid powertrain.

2018 Lexus ES Engines

  • 3.5-liter V6; 268 horsepower, 248 lb-ft of torque; 21 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving

  • 2.5-liter hybrid inline-four; 200 total hp; 39 mpg city/40 mpg hwy/40 mpg combined

2019 Lexus ES Engines

  • 3.5-liter V6; 302 hp, 267 lb-ft of torque; 22 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined

  • 2.5-liter hybrid inline-four; 215 total hp; 43 mpg city/45 mpg hwy/44 mpg combined

Lexus is pretty discreet about how much torque the hybrid ES makes, but all you really need to know about the hybrid ES is that it sacrifices performance for excellent fuel economy. All ES models are front-wheel drive and are only available with an automatic transmission.

As you can see by the numbers, the 2019 Lexus ES is an upgrade over the outgoing model in both performance and efficiency for both its conventional and hybrid powertrains.

Technology

There’s a lot of cutting-edge technology on display inside the all-new 2019 ES. One of our favorite options is the massive available 12.3-in high-resolution infotainment screen with navigation along with all the other controls for a car you could desire. Lots of information is presented clearly on this gorgeous screen. On top of that, you can also get a 10.2-in head-up display that helps you keep your eyes on the road at all times.

Some other available tech includes Amazon Alexa, which is just like having the handy Amazon Echo personal assistant built into your car. With a special Lexus skill for Alexa and with the Lexus Enform Remote, you can use Alexa-enabled devices, your smartphone or even a smartwatch for remote start, climate control, locking and unlocking your doors, checking the fuel level and more. Apple CarPlay is available, but, unfortunately, Android Auto is not.

None of the above is available in the 2018 Lexus ES. Every 2018 ES comes with an 8-in touchscreen with available navigation, but you can’t get a head-up display or the beautiful 12.3-in screen. When it comes to technology, the 2019 Lexus ES is head and shoulders above the 2018 model.

Pricing

The Lexus ES gets a small price hike for 2019. The starting MSRP of the 2018 model is $38,950 and the 2019 model starts at $39,600. However, the hybrid model got more affordable with the 2019 Lexus ES 300h starting at $41,310 and the 2018 model starting at $41,820. Pricing for both model years can get up into the mid-$40,000 range in the higher trims and are strong values when compared to similarly equipped competitors.

 

Conclusion

The thorough makeover of the Lexus ES for 2019 has made it a better luxury car and a better value. It packs in a lot of luxury and technology for the money and the affordable hybrid is an even stronger value proposition, as long as you don’t mind sacrificing performance for fuel economy. You’re likely find some good deals on 2018 ES models that are being cleared out, but we think the 2019 model is the one to get.

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