The next generation 2019 Lexus ES 350 is coming off the production line in Georgetown, Kentucky with what’s said to be the all-new Lexus Global Architecture platform. The new platform allows non-union workers to build a car that is a rolling model change cliché’ — longer, lower and wider than before with wheels pushed closer to the corners. (See AutoInformed on Gen Seven Lexus ES Sedan Starts at $40,075)
Workers at the company’s U.S. facility spent more than 150,000 hours training to build the ES model that delivers Lexus claims of a “fundamentally higher level of performance than its predecessors.” That includes sensory training that teaches assemblers, for instance, to feel for an abnormality as minute as a thread of hair.
“After extensive sensory training, our team members rely on sight, sound and touch to know that the craftsmanship of the car is of the highest standard,” said Mike Bridge, Lexus assistant general manager. “A machine can’t make those judgments, and that’s why we take so much time to train before a new model goes into production.”
Bridge said an example of this sensory training can be seen in body weld, where team members are taught to feel gap differences measured in fractions as little as 0.3 millimeters. “This is equal to the thickness of three sheets of paper and can be felt even with gloves on,” he said.
Lexus began production of the ES in Kentucky in 2015 after investing more than $360 million in a new production facility on the Toyota Kentucky site. The Strong Japanese Yen was an incentive to do so. In addition to the ES 350, Lexus will now also build the all-new F SPORT.
In 2016, after one year of production, the Lexus line received the Platinum award – a tie with Toyota’s Kyushu 2 plant in Japan – in the J.D. Power & Associates’ Initial Quality Study, representing the highest-performing assembly plant in the world for initial quality. The Kentucky Lexus plant has been among the highest J.D. Power rankings every year since.
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The Gen 7 ES has the comfort, quietness and spacious attributes the most successful Japanese luxury nameplate is known for. Lexus, in keeping with its anti-boring revisions, claims honed performance and class-leading active safety technology.
The 2019 ES 350 includes:
- Eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission that more efficiently transfers power to the wheels;
- Standard Lexus Safety System+ 2.0;
- First Lexus product to offer Apple CarPlay phone;
- Amazon Alexa-enabled with car-to-home and home-to-car commands.
The 2019 Lexus ES 350 will be in dealer showrooms in September. The price for the Lexus ES 350 starts at close to $41,000 and the F SPORT starts at more than $45,000.