Quiet Strength

Photograph: Contributed
Above: Lexus ES 350

If the morning commute takes you past the blasting of heavy construction, a good car to consider would be the Lexus ES 350. The noise will be turned to a distant rustle with the crumbling road smooth as butter on mashed potatoes. This is the perfect car for the stressed-out driver, who may just emerge from the stylish sedan with noticeably reduced blood pressure.

The ES model has been revamped for 2019; it’s the seventh generation of a car that debuted only in 1989. Whereas it once was a glossy redo of a Toyota Avalon, it is now a sumptuous sedan in the “just right” size. The electronics are all up to date, with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa for Android users (allowing car-to-home commands), Verizon WiFi, and a raft of safety sensors.

It continues with Lexus’s spindle-grill motif up front and adds many swooping sculptural touches to give it a more aggressive style. Neighbors might even think you sprang for the larger LS 500 starship. The new colors offered include Moonbeam Beige Metallic, which surely sounds like a Frank Zappa song.
With a new chassis, the ES is wider and longer by a few inches from its predecessor. The engine is 34 horses stronger, and the transmission goes from six speeds to eight. So, it’s faster and gets better mileage at the same time.

For those who really want the mileage, consider the hybrid version, the ES 300H, which offers even more ghostly quiet around town as it delivers an impressive 45 mpg.

But what about the drivers who like a touch more road feel? Lexus is now offering an F-Sport model (base price $45,000) with faster-moving suspension bits should a nice curvy road open up.

The ES is front-wheel-drive only, so certain sport-based drivers will go elsewhere. But the ES sings with dozens of virtues, including terrific reliability. In a noisy world, it would be a sound investment.

Base price: $39,500
Drivetrain:  302-hp, 3.5-liter V6. FWD
EPA Mileage Rating: 22/33 mpg

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