What it is: The Lexus ES has been made for more than two decades and received a complete overhaul as part of the 2019 model year. It has gotten a little bigger each time, and with Lexus recently killing off their GS sedan, this is one of only three sedans that Lexus is making. The IS is mostly comparable in size to the ES but is designed as a sports sedan whereas the ES is designed with more of an eye toward luxury.
My initial impression getting into the ES was about how large it actually is. There is a surprisingly large difference between the IS and the ES with the ES being nearly a foot longer and 2-inches wider and offering 60% more trunk volume.
The reason why Lexus sent this specific ES to me is the introduction of a new trim package, the Black Line special edition. Available as an $850 option on top of the F SPORT trim, it adds a black wheel finish, rear spoiler, white interior and includes a special two-piece set of Zero Halliburton luggage. The white and black (colloquially referred to as ‘panda’ styling) has become trendier as some popular auto manufacturers, like Tesla, offer similar color schemes. The result is fine, but I cannot imagine this pushing any Lexus ES shoppers over the edge on purchasing the car. It kind of feels like your grandpa bragging about buying a new iPad.
That comparison may not be fair because the Lexus ES has grown into a fun-to-drive sedan, especially in F SPORT trim where you can add on an adaptive variable suspension and you get a 302 horsepower V6 engine. Also of note was my test vehicle’s ultrasonic blue mica paint job ($595) which was absolutely stunning and available on normal trims, as well. The other Black Line paint options are white and black. I did not particularly like the style or the glossy black finish on the wheels, but it works fine enough.
Driving the ES is exactly what you’d expect from a Lexus: ultra-smooth, quiet and a refined style. It provides a radically different driving experience than the Camry, and the extra luxury is a real reason to step up to Lexus over Toyota. With 300 horsepower on tap, it is relatively quick, and while I think the infotainment system lags behind competitors, the overall technology on offer is good. The 10.2-inch head-up display ($500), LED headlamps ($1,515) and hands-free open/close trunk ($550) are all options I would check yes to.
MPG: 25 combined/22 city/31 highway
Price: ES base price is $40,000. $53,770 as-tested.
Upsides: Comfy and luxurious.
Downsides: Sporty appearance without the full sports sedan experience.
Wrap-up: The F Sport Black Line Special Edition is limited to only 1,500 units, so if you are enthralled with the idea of purchasing one, it might be a challenge. At time of writing, only Sterling McCall Lexus had any in the greater Houston area (both with the ultrasonic blue mica paint that is so wonderful). It is nice to see Lexus doing some more creative things with their cars, and they have clearly made huge strides away from being the go-to brand for grandparents, but the Black Line is still just short of being cool. If you want a fun Lexus sedan, then get the IS. If you want a luxury cruiser then do what the ES does best: classic luxury.