I’ve reviewed Lexus vehicles for several years, and my initial impression of the brand was that it was stodgy and conservative. Nothing about the vehicles really stood out to me.
In 2014, my impression started to change as the brand focused more on performance and design.
I became an actual fan after a drove the Lexus LC 500, the flagship luxury coupe.
The Lexus ES 350 line is part of the brand’s strategy to be a major player in the entry-luxury segment by combining flagship-type comfort and eye-catching design.
Although this segment is filled with a few heavy-hitters such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo S60, Audi 4, Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Lexus ES 350 holds it’s own. In fact, the Lexus ES was the best-selling entry in the J.D. Power compact premium car segment in 2019.
After spending a week with the Lexus ES 350 F Sport I can understand why. The car is comfortable, well-designed, and delivers exciting performance.
Lexus ES 350 F Sport Overview
The Lexus ES 350 F Sport is a good-looking 4-door sedan. It stands out with 19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, the aggressive, signature spindle grille, and a rear spoiler on the trunk.
My tester was painted to the hot Matador Red Mica color and I got many compliments on it as I drove around town.
The Lexus ES 350 F Sport shows a more sophisticated look from the rear, too, with distinctive L-themed taillights and chrome-tipped rectangular exhaust ports.
Safety is also a major selling point for this vehicle.
Starting with 10 standard airbags, the Lexus ES 350 offers exemplary safety through its robust structure and a wide array of driver-assist technologies.
The Lexus Safety System+ Package combines Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam (IHB) and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Intelligent High Beam technology that senses headlights from oncoming traffic, and also the taillights of the vehicle traveling in front, and automatically adjusts high- and low-beam illumination.
The F Sport trim adds Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) to help detect vehicles in your side blind spots and alert you to rear cross-traffic when backing out of a parking space.
Lexus ES 350 F Sport Interior
Lexus made numerous upgrades to the 2020 Lexus ES 350 F Sport’s already comfortable, spacious interior.
Soft-touch materials added to the console and silver-trimmed piano black door switch plates are among the details that give the interior a richer appearance.
The heated-leather steering wheel has a sporty look and feel and allows you to easily see the large multi-information display that links to multimedia functions.
When you slide into the 10-way adjustable power front seats, you immediately notice Lexus’s attention to detail and effort to enhance the overall driving experience. The red leather seats are comfortable and feel good even after many hours of driving.
My three teenage children fit comfortably on the roomy backseat without any complaints (believe me when I say this is a huge feat).
My favorite interior feature is perhaps the Mark Levinson PurePlay 17-speaker, 1800 watt premium surround-sound audio system. I was totally immersed in the music pumping from the LL Cool J Rock the Bells station on SiriusFM Satellite Radio.
Other interior creature comforts include automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a power tilt-and-slide moonroof, power-adjustable outside mirrors with turn signals and defoggers, power rear sunshade, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Lexus Enform Wifi.
Lexus ES 350 F Sport Performance
When you upgrade to the F Sport level, the Lexus ES 350 becomes a much more interesting option.
For the uninitiated, the Lexus F badging represents the brand’s high-performance vehicles.
The F marque refers to Flagship and Fuji Speedway, the chief test site of Lexus performance vehicle development in Oyama, Suntō District, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
The Lexus F Sport line was launched in 2007 as a performance and trim upgrade for Lexus buyers.
With front-wheel drive traction, the Lexus ES 350 F Sport delivers strong and efficient performance from a standard 302-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine teamed with an ultra-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
Lexus vehicles have not always been well-known for precision handling, but the F Sport enhanced suspension tuning and front and rear performance dampers allowed me to handle sharp corners like a champ.
Although this vehicle has the F Sport badging, don’t expect the type of power you’d experience in Lexus’s coupes.
While you do get a performance boost over a standard ES 350, the F Sport version could use a bit more punch.
During the week I had the vehicle, I enjoyed the overall driving experience. Dare I say, it was even fun to drive.
For those looking to enter the luxury market, the Lexus 350 ES F Sport’s suggested retail price of $44,635 is appealing. My tester was priced at $51,890 fully loaded.
With an average estimated fuel economy of 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, don’t expect to save a lot at the pump.
- Enhanced luxury, styling, and comfort
- Lots of standard safety features
- Excellent sound system
- Good warranty
- Average gas mileage
- Annoying touchpad interface
I would recommend the Lexus ES 350 F Sport to young professionals who are looking for a dependable, good-looking luxury sedan.