2019 Lexus ES 350 First Drive: Not Everyone’s An Athlete

– Nashville, Tennessee

There's something going on at Lexus. Like a reservoir slowly fills up, excitement and enthusiasm at Toyota's luxury arm had grown until the floodgates burst last year, culminating with the sublime LC 500 sports coupe. Arguably one of the best grand tourers on the market, Lexus is trying to filter the LC's excellence into other models. The LS flagship sedan pulled it off, but now Lexus wants to apply the LC formula to the ES. Will it work?

No. Don't be silly.

The 2019 ES adopts styling from the LS sedan, improves its interior quality immensely, and gets just a small dose of the LC flag ship's driving charm. But while it's different from its predecessor in a number of ways, driving the ES around the hilly countryside outside Nashville, Tennessee proves that no matter what Lexus wants us to believe about its newest sedan, this is still a relaxed, refined luxury cruiser. Treat the ES as such, and it's an able companion. Push it hard, though, and the LC-derived charms quickly run out.

Lexus' Transformation:

And that's a shame, because at the very least this is an attractive, sporty-looking car. Based on Lexus' GA-K platform – itself a comfort/performance-focused relative of the Toyota New Global Architecture that underpins the Toyota Camry and Avalon – the 2019 ES is a scaled-down version of the ...