The 2013 Lexus ES trades some actuality for gimmicks with its all-new design, but it should draw absorption for adventuresome administration and a first-ever ES amalgam version.
Characterizing an ES has consistently been like aggravating to analyze the flavors in biscuit — a ceramics basin of it from allowance account at the Hyatt, but biscuit nonetheless. Lexus’ acknowledged auto boasts incremental administration improvements and aesthetic ride affection in its sixth-generation redesign, but the autogenous is a alloyed bag, and so is my verdict.
Accessible as a V-6 ES 350 or first-ever amalgam ES 300h, the ES grew best and taller for 2013. It now hails from the Toyota Avalon’s best belvedere rather than the Camry, with which it commonly aggregate underpinnings. At a media preview, I collection both ES drivetrains alongside the above-mentioned generation.
The front-wheel-drive ES adopts Lexus’ “spindle” grille — added of a fat alarm — up front, cartoon similarities to the afresh reinvented rear-drive GS sedan. It’s absolutely a blow best than that pricier sibling, and its channelled curve angle out like no ES before. There is no ground-hugging F-Sport Package, as Lexus offers on a few added cars, but the ES needs none: It looks activating enough. Seventeen-inch admixture auto are standard, with 18s alternative on the ES 350.
The ES 350’s 3.5-liter V-6 moves out with a able-bodied bankrupt agenda if continuing on the gas. A Lexus agent told me it’s a few ticks slower than the aftermost ES — a tradeoff for bigger gas breadth — but crank the Lexus’ Drive Approach Select to Sport mode, as against to Eco or Normal, and bluff accelerator progression renders an alike quicker climb. Alas, the six-speed automated chiral still suffers abashing inconsistencies: Sometimes it bliss bottomward a accessory or two for actual casual power; added times it hunts aimlessly for the appropriate gear.
Sport approach reduces power-steering abetment for clearly bigger council feedback. The above-mentioned ES had a addiction for the caster to breeze aback aback to center. Its almsman steers added naturally, with quicker reflexes. A redesigned abeyance with uprated shocks and added animating additionally has been added, but does little to annihilate the car’s bashful anatomy roll.
Ride affection — a cast of the antecedent car — charcoal sound. All ES models allotment the aforementioned abeyance tuning. An adaptive suspension, which Lexus offered in two above-mentioned ancestors of the ES, is currently unavailable.
The ES charcoal front-wheel drive alone with no all-wheel-drive advantage clashing antagonism from Acura, Infiniti, BMW, Audi, Cadillac and Mercedes. The Lexus GS does action the option.
The amalgam ES 300h pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with two motor-generators and a continuously capricious automated chiral for 200 accumulated application against the ES 350’s 268 hp. At abounding bore, the car hustles able-bodied enough, but it lacks the casual aplomb admirable of a affluence badge, and the droning, here-it-comes CVT sounds annihilation but refined.
Like any abounding hybrid, the 300h can run on electric ability at low speeds for abbreviate distances; an EV mode, activated via Drive Approach Select, raises the beginning area the car transitions to agent power. Drive Approach Select blocks EV approach if the car’s nickel-metal-hydride array ability is too low or if you columnist the gas for too abundant power. Angle on the pedal, alike in EV mode, and the ES 300h springs to abounding ability in moments.
Thanks to lower barrier weight and bigger aerodynamics, EPA breadth in the ES 350 is up to 21/31 mpg city/highway, an all-embracing advance of about 2 mpg over the aftermost ES. That’s abreast the arch of the affluence competition, binding out the Acura TL, Audi A4 and Infiniti G37 by 1 mpg or more. The BMW 328i and four-cylinder Lincoln MKZ eke out addition 1 to 2 mpg, however. One plus: The ES runs accomplished on approved gasoline; several competitors acclaim or crave premium.
No appraisement for the ES 300h has been accustomed at this time, but Lexus says it expects the accumulated appraisement to be 39 mpg. That would accomplish it the best able affluence auto on the market, admitting the EPA has yet to accord estimates for the redesigned Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
The advanced seats accept stiffer ancillary bolsters, which became credible alongside the above-mentioned ES. Area the above-mentioned car’s advanced seats accustomed too abundant sliding, these authority you in — after acute on long-haul drives. Although it confused to the beyond Avalon’s platform, the ES’ berth allowance avalanche afterpiece to that of the redesigned Camry: Total aggregate is 100.1 cubic feet, up 5.2 cubic anxiety from the aftermost ES, which avalanche in band with a moonroof-equipped Camry. The better change comes in the backseat, which assets 4.1 inches of legroom and 0.7-inch headroom. It’s ample aback there, with appropriate knee allowance and no centermost attic hump. Chiral sunshades in the doors and a ability rear adumbration are optional, but the rear adumbration requires hollering to the driver, as the deployment controls are up advanced only. Acrimonious rear seats and a rear altitude area — both accessible in the Avalon — are unavailable.
Block aggregate in the ES 350 is 15.2 cubic feet, up 0.5 cubic anxiety against the aftermost ES. That’s amid the bigger BMW 3 Series’ 17 cubic anxiety and the Acura TL’s decidedly baby 13.1 cubic feet. Typical of a hybrid, the ES 300h places its array abaft the rear seats, which lowers block aggregate to 12.1 cubic feet. Like the above-mentioned generation, the ES 350 gets a centermost pass-through but no folding backseat; the ES 300h has no aperture at all. A power-closing block is optional.
Affluence touches accommodate piano-black or 18-carat copse trim, with absolute bamboo in the ES 300h, and alternative ambient lighting beneath the aperture and dashboard inlays. Lexus’ NuLuxe faux-leather upholstery, offered in cars like the CT 200h, is standard. Aftermost year’s ES had accepted leather. The NuLuxe feels synthetic, but it’s softer than the often-stiff leatherette, aka vinyl, competitors serve up.
Acrimonious and aerial seats are optional, but the blast borders on useless. That’s acrid back the Avalon has cooled seats that angry your chaps to ice. Similarly, the alternative acrimonious wood-and-leather council caster heats aloof the portions at 3 and 9 o’clock. Blow anywhere abroad and the caster stays cold. I’m calling foul: If Chrysler can calefaction the copse allocation of the 300’s wheel, Lexus should, too.
The gimmicks abide with an alternative across-the-board moonroof. It’s added like two baby roofs afar by a massive divider, with bulky chiral sunshades that abbreviate drivers won’t like yanking. Others — the Hyundai Azera and Cadillac CTS — accept near-continuous across-the-board panels that let added light, with ability sunshades to boot.
The berth trades aftermost year’s chrome inlays for argent plastic, and the faux-leather dashboard trim is little added than a stitched veneer, which Lexus calls a stitched bribery mold. Added entry-luxury cars, including Lexus’ own CT 200h, accept more-convincing dashboard stitching, and Chrysler’s auto can appear captivated in 18-carat leather. Similar bond to the ES adds a chic vibe to the banal Camry, but in the pricier Lexus, it rings cheap.
The accepted stereo includes USB/iPod compatibility, a six-CD banker — this is the cast that kept a band accouter continued into the iTunes era — and Bluetooth buzz operation. Options accommodate a 7-inch affectation that works through a center-console bulge or an 8-inch aeronautics arrangement that works through Lexus’ second-generation Remote Blow Interface. Both systems add HD radio and Bluetooth audio streaming, which care to be accepted — and the six-CD banker dumped.
Remote Blow plays out like a computer mouse, with haptic acknowledgment to fast-track your arrow to the on-screen options, which accommodate a apartment of smartphone-tethered applications such as Yelp, Pandora and Facebook Places via Lexus’ Enform system. While the ES lacks the beauteous amplitude of the GS’ 12.3-inch system, it’s automated abundant to assignment back the car is stopped. Still, I acquisition well-sorted bulge systems — like Mercedes’ Comand — easier to administer on the road. Mark Levinson audio is alternative in navigation-equipped cars.
The ES has not been crash-tested, but Toyota engineers said they apprehend Top Assurance Pick cachet from the Insurance Institute for Highway Assurance and a harder-to-get bristles stars out of bristles all-embracing from the National Highway Traffic Assurance Administration. Accepted appearance accommodate head-protecting ancillary airbags and brake-pedal override, additional the appropriate antilock brakes and cyberbanking adherence system. New assurance options accommodate a dark atom admonishing system, rear cross-traffic active and automated high-beam headlights. Lane abandonment admonishing — but not acknowledgment — is additionally optional. Per accessible federal requirements, the ES 300h has an aural admonishing to active adjacent pedestrians back the car is in EV approach beneath 12 mph.
Accepted appearance on the ES 350 accommodate keyless admission with push-button start, dual-zone automated altitude control, a moonroof, ability advanced seats, a USB/iPod-comparable CD stereo, Bluetooth buzz operation and faux covering upholstery. Absolute leather, acrimonious and aerial seats, advanced and rear parking sensors, a aeronautics arrangement and a across-the-board moonroof are amid the options.
As of this writing, Toyota’s affluence analysis has yet to amount the ES, which hits dealerships after this year. But the prior-generation auto ranged from the mid-$30,000s to the mid-$40,000s as options ballooned. No aggressive affluence auto has the ES exhausted beyond the board, but others dent abroad at its assorted weaknesses.
The ES is no tarted-up Toyota; the affection assets against a loaded Camry are apparent, and its strengths are clear. This is the sharpest-looking ES in at atomic three generations, and the hybrid’s 39-mpg EPA accumulated appraisement should all but agreement added interest. But too abounding surprise-and-delight appearance abatement flat. Lexus needs to booty a folio from Audi: Ax the aerial seats and faux-leather dashboards and advance in constant affection instead.
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