Median age of 1995 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham buyer: 67
Median age of 1995 Buick Roadmaster buyer: 65
Median age of 2011 Lincoln Town Car buyer: 62
Median age of 2017 Buick LaCrosse buyer: 60.5
Median age of 2017 Cadillac XTS buyer: 65
(* Unless in Chinese market or livery use)
Which brings Roadblazing.com to the Lexus ES 350 luxury full-size sedan. According to J.D. Power the median buyer’s age of the Lexus brand’s No. 3 best seller is 67.
Luxury carmakers continue to fall all themselves with new crossover utility vehicles to crib market share. Still, globally Lexus’ ES still generates 110,000 sales [in part owing to a segment exclusive full gas-electric hybrid variant].
The luxury arm of Toyota has certainly reached out to younger buyers with the NX and new UX crossovers and IS sport compact sedans, lowering the overall brand’s median age to 50.
Nonetheless, banking on filling driveways at Del Webb and the Villages while being loyal to the core customer, the Big “L” now introduces a redesigned 2019 Lexus ES 350.
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Standard Power: transverse 3.5L DOHC 24V DI SFI gas V-6 = 302 hp/ 267 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm + 8-spd. torque converter planetary transaxle, steering wheel shift paddles; 4 Drive Chassis Modes = Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, and customizable mode
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: [From previous generation Mk.6 ES 350]
– SPINDLE GRILLE DETRACTORS BEWARE: This time it’s indubitably longer and more flared. A la Lexus GS 350. Upper L to inverted lower L slats run from below head to lower air dam. Prominent creases parallel hood channel and corner chin meeting to form arrows. “L” boomerang DRLs exceed thinner LED headlamps to wrap further around.
– Rocker panels at rear creases more forcefully. The C-pillar Hofmeister kink is more marked. Upper quarter panel beltline wraps around trunk lid forming integrated spoiler. Thinner wrap around rear LED’s housings incorporate the “L” directionals outlined by red reflectives.
– Creases flow around from the mid and lower rear quarter panel to form a cinching. Former round chrome dual exhaust tail-pipe tips have been replaced by lower corner valance tetrahedral housings. Door mount wing mirrors are slimmer with more prominent indicator lamps.
WHY: Nourishing the Sexagenarian hand which built the brand
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Summer 2018
WHERE: Lexus new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Georgetown, Kentucky, U.S.A.
HOW ROADWORTHY: “Mission Accomplished” if the mission was a mobile anechoic chamber or transition to electric vehicles. Then there is that pesky accelerator pedal dead spot prodding the naturally aspirated 3.5L DOHC V-6; Despite the empty promises of a Sport Mode, what is the point of shift paddles which can’t manipulate the smooth 8-speed gearbox to muster authoritative throttle blips? Omitting an all-wheel drive option is glaring but hardly a deal breaker. It just so happens a snowy interstate escapade on all-season Michelin shod front wheels dispatched measured sure-footedness.
The conventional dampers are tuned for ripple free road isolation while there is reasonable grip until gentle sway gives way to understeer. Good luck finding any road feel from a steering rack that reacts faster than ever. Brake pedal effort is tuned for a spa massage, therefore scrubbing speed requires patience.
HOW FAR: 24 combined miles per gallon;
HOW BIG/ LITTLE:
√ Compared to Mk.7 ES 350: 113″ wheelbase = +2″, 195.9″ total length = + 2.6″, 39.2″ rear legroom = -0.8″;
√ Compared to Cadillac XTS: Wheelbase = +2.3″, total length = +5.0″, front legroom = +0.3″, rear legroom = -0.8″, trunk space = -11.0%
HOW USEFUL: √ Trunk space = segment acceptable; √ Trunk pass through; √ Cargo tie-down net; √ Center-stack retracting lid electronics phone bin w/ optional Qi wireless charging = 2 devices; √ Wide front center armrest, shallow felt bottom bin; +1 Proximity power release and close trunk lid; +1 Spacious door pockets; +1 Cupholders x 4, Bottle holders x 4 (each door); Split shelf, felt lined glove box; –1 Shallow trunk aperture; -1 No overhead sunglasses bin.
HOW SAFE: √ 10 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; √ Rear camera; √ STANDARD Lexus SafetySense 2.0 = √ Pedestrian and daylight bicycle detection braking; √ Forward collision avoidance braking; √ Blind spot warning; √ Front & Rear cross traffic detection; √ Lane Departure Warning w/ steering trace assist; √ Full adaptive cruise control w/ auto hold; √ Automatic high beam headlamps;
ADVANCED SAFETY PKG: √ Sonar front & rear park assist; √ 360° Bird’s Eye camera view, perimeter scan; √ Heads Up Display
BEWARE WINTER: That more prominently raked front end & spindle grille became an icy-slush cow catcher which rendered many driver assist functions “winter paralyzed.”
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: √ Heated & cooled front, driver’s 10-way, 4-way lumbar, passenger’s 10-way, 2-way lumbar power leather seats, w/ 3-setting driver’s memory and driver’s knee extension; √ 3-setting Easy Access driver’s seat, steering wheel; √ Heated rear seats; √ 4 power windows w/ full soft close up/ down express; √ Heated, power tilt / telescoping heated leather steering wheel; √ 2-zone auto climate control w/ auto front seat, steering climate; √ Puddle lamps x 4 doors; √ 1-touch power moon roof;
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Comfort approach entry and lighting; √ [LC500’s] Deep padded and contrast stitched single variable gauge binnacle; √ Driver / front passenger dual center armrest cover release;
Details Done Right: √ Aluminum dash, central console accents; √ Leather upper door panel inserts; √ Beveled etched dashboard panel appliques; √ Uniform seat & contrast soft dash-top; stitching; √ LED door panel, central console ambient lighting; √ Soft padded center console & lower dash, glovebox door; √ Fine grain knee and below plastic pebbling; Simulated pebbled leather, lateral tuning-fork shaped upper door Mark Levinson loudspeaker housings.
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Ash gray wood veneers = Gray sky dour;
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 12.3″ split-pane touch pad remote control LCD infotainment screen; √ Voice recognition command hands-free communications; +1 SMS Text Messaging; √ 3-D SD GPS navigation; √ Apple Car Play wireless device overlay; √ Siri Eyes; √ Enform 2.0 Apps: Amazon Alexa, iHeart, Slacker, NPR One radios, Yelp, Fuel, Sports, Stocks, Doppler Weather, HD Traffic, √ USB x 4, 12V x 1; √ Qi wireless inductive charging pad.
For All Ears: √ sibilant and spatial 17 speaker, 1800 Watt Mark Levinson Quantum Logic Clari-Fi 2.0 5.1 DTS HD radio audio;
By Subscription: √ Sirius XM radio; √ Wi-Fi; √ Lexus Enform Connected Services w/ S.O.S.; √ Dynamic Navigation POI search & voice recognition
HOW MUCH: $51,469 = as tested 2018 Lexus ES 350 Ultra Lux
WHAT’S MISSING: Warmer wood veneers and trim contrast; Drive assist sensor de-icing; Camera lens spray cleaners; Palpable steering road feel; Neater cable infotainment cable management.
ANY COMPETITION: Buick LaCrosse: +1 AWD option, Avenir; Cadillac XTS: +1 AWD, TT V6 engine options, trunk size; Lincoln MKZ; +1 AWD, TT V6 options.
FINAL WORD: Because rear door and backlight sunshades aren’t offered on a Toyota Avalon.