2020 Lexus ES350 F-Sport: Sport Sedan or Highway Cruiser?

2020 Lexus ES350Model Tested: 2020 Lexus ES350 F-Sport

Engine: 3.5-Liter V6

Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic

Horsepower: 302

Torque: 267 lb.-ft.

EPA Ratings: 22/City • 31/Highway • 22/Combined

Base Price: $44,635 • As Tested: $53,370

Overview: In spite of declining sedan popularity in favor of crossovers and SUVs, rather than relinquish market share to them, Lexus doubled down on the value showcased in its sedan lineup. The 2020 Lexus ES line delivers sharper handling than expected from a mid-sized front-wheel-drive sedan, with excellent fuel economy.

Our test driver was the Lexus ES350 F-Sport, and this review focuses exclusively on that model.

Walkaround: While the Lexus ES shares some basic architecture with the Toyota Avalon and Camry, its overall styling screams Lexus — starting with the often polarizing signature “spindle” grille and bold, triple-beam LED headlights. Sharp lines flow into a wavelike body missing the overstuffed appearance of some larger Lexus models.

The ES350 F Sport version features distinctive detailing and larger wheels, as well as unique exterior trim.

Interior: The cabin is spacious and comfortable. The elegant, well thought-out and functional interior, coupled with attention to materials and finishes makes the ES350 feel worth the price. However, the F Sport’s dark colors don’t work quite as well as the lighter wood and aluminum trim in other ES models.

The 10-way bolstered, heated and ventilated power leather front seats are comfortable and supportive. Rear seats offer a generous 39 inches of legroom.

Instrumentation features 10.2-inch Head-Up display and optional 12.3-inch infotainment screen. Climate controls are clustered below, although the infotainment interface — similar to a laptop computer touchpad — is challenging to use safely when moving. Menu-intensive software makes it worse. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay coupled with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa compatibility are standard. Our test driver featured Lexus’ premium 10-speaker sound system.

Trunk volume is nearly 17 cubic feet, accessed through a wide opening.

Behind The Wheel: The ES50 F-Sport delivers a sharp, sporty driving experience. While not a true sports sedan, it’s a well-engineered compromise between that and lavish highway cruiser.

The 3.5-liter V-6 moves the F-Sport with authority, and the 8-speed automatic transmission delivers quick shifts. Thanks to adaptive dampers that firm up with a button-push, on winding roads, the manual-mode, paddle-shifters provide great fun.

With a Sport+ driving mode that holds each gear longer, and sharp, higher-weighted steering, the F-Sport is a satisfying balance between daily drivability and sporty fun on rural roads.

Whines: The frustrating infotainment interface could become a safety issue for some drivers.

Bottom Line: The Lexus ES350 F-Sport is a well-engineered standout that delivers a comfortable, composed ride, healthy V-6 power, and Lexus luxury and reliability.