Lexus takes the road to Avalon

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 1, 2018) For most of its six generations, the ES was the Wally Cox of the Lexus lineup; a milquetoast Camry-based sedan filled with leather and luxury appointments, and about as exciting as a competitive quilting bee. The real question isn’t whether adding an F Sport model to the line is a cynical attempt to add sportiness to a car not known to possess it, but whether it has what it takes to rise above the Camry underneath.

About that. The seventh generation ES is built off Toyota’s Global Architecture K (GA-K). You may know it better as the Toyota New Global Architecture, of which the K version underpins the 2019 Toyota Avalon.

Dropping the first two letters cuts the obvious ties to Toyota, but does not erase the close relationship between the Avalon and ES — or the Camry, for that matter.

One of the more important differences is the increase in size from the sixth generation to the seventh. No longer a Camry clone, the 2019 Lexus ES shares its wheelbase and overall length with the larger Avalon, and adds credence to the rumors that it will replace the similarly sized rear-drive GS in the Lexus lineup. This will make room for the addition of a luxury crossover like the LF-1 Limitless concept built off the new Lexus rear-drive platform.

As stated, the new ES is larger than before. How much larger? Let’s take a look:

t’s not that huge of a difference, and similar to the difference in size between the Camry and Avalon on the Toyota side of the house. However, this is more than enough to change its stance and proportions, as well as usefully increase interior room.

Mechanically, the 2019 ES is a clone of the Avalon, and for that reason, we won’t be treading that water again.

On the tech and safety fronts, Lexus has made the Lexus Safety System+2.0 standard. New features include adding daytime bicyclist detection to the Pre-Collision System. In addition, the front radar’s sensitivity and range has been increased to help better detect a pedestrian at night. To help with driver distraction, the 2019 ES becomes the first Lexus to offer Apple CarPlay so that drivers can control their iPhone through the infotainment screen or via Siri voice control. Not an Apple fan? The ES also comes equipped with Amazon Alexa voice control that includes car-to-home and home-to-car commands.

The optional infotainment unit has the same 12.3-in. wide display that is increasingly common in Lexus vehicles. It includes navigation that has both on-board data sets and over-the-air upgrade capability, as well as Verizon Wi-Fi. Standard units have an 8.1-in screen.

The 2019 Lexus goes on sale in September. Prices will be set closer to the launch date.