The Lexus ES has always been a plush, upscale mainstay of affordable luxury. Although based on the modest Toyota Camry, it managed to deliver a true Lexus experience of luxury, quietness, interior quality, and painless ownership. Things have changed slightly with the new version.
The redesigned 2013 ES tries to appeal to a younger audience by promising a sportier demeanor, but instead, it scaled back on ride comfort and ended up with more complicated controls.
The car is stiffer riding than the ES it replaces, based on seat time with examples borrowed from Lexus. This seems to be especially the case when fitted with the optional 18-inch wheels, which also contribute road noise.
The most common configuration will be the ES 350, which gets a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic. More notable, the ES 350 is joined by a 300h hybrid version. The 300h uses the same drivetrain found in the Camry Hybrid: a 2.5-liter four cylinder is EPA-rated for 40 mpg city, 39 mpg highway.
The cabin is roomier and visibility has improved. But unlike Camry, the ES gets the fussy Remote Touch Interface controller found in the GS and RX. In addition, the Lexus Enform system—like Toyota Entune—provides Internet and app connectivity via a smartphone.
By trying to lure younger buyers, Lexus risks alienating its traditional owners who basically want a Lexus LS but in a smaller and more affordable package. We'll see how the ES measures up when we buy our own sedans and run them through our full battery of tests.
Until then, check out the video below to see the ES in action.