A far sleeker appearance, more sophisticated feature set, improved dynamics and a new hybrid variant highlight the 2013 Lexus ES Series lineup that made its world debut in New York. Completely recast to further strengthen its already formidable market presence, the latest iteration of this mid-size entry-lux four-door expands its potential consumer appeal in virtually every measurable way.
Smartly transitioning into the new-era Lexus styling language, the 2013 ES Series displays a notably bolder exterior character that keys off of the division's new signature "spindle grille" and edgier L-finesse body contouring complemented by revamped front/rear lighting elements and a lower, more aerodynamic profile. Prominently flared fenderwells on the new ES Series will be filled with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/55 low-rolling-resistance tires on both the ES350 and the new ES300h Hybrid Synergy Drive models. However, 18-inch polished rims with 245/45 rubber will be optional on the ES350. Beyond subtle HSD badging, the two ES models are primarily differentiated by the rear valence treatment that showcases bright integrated dual exhaust tips on the ES350 but hides the outlets on the 300h, which also sports a subtle decklid spoiler.
In addition to a improving driver sightlines and netting a 1.8-inch stretch in wheelbase that opens up more people space in both the front and rear quarters, the ES Series redesign also included a comprehensive interior remake that reflects an even higher level of refinement and user-friendliness set off with real wood accents. Controls are more logically positioned and the seats -- whether trimmed in environmentally friendly NuLuxe or real semi-analine leather - have been redesigned to provide greater comfort and support. The ES Series also features the latest console mounted Remote Touch Interface (RTI) controller that allows the user to operate the climate, audio and phone controls as well as the optional navigation system using menus on the car's central display screen. All versions of the new ES also come with an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD premium audio system that includes Bluetooth/USB/iPod connectivity and SiriusXM receiver as well as a one-year subscription to the new Lexus Enform system.
A functional equivalent to Toyota Entune, Enform provides seamless connectivity and integration with smartphones and mobile devices plus the ability to download and access a variety of apps including Pandora, IHeartRadio, Yelp, Bing, and Facebook Places. Finally, new noise attenuation efforts also have made the serene inner sanctum of the new ES Series even quieter than before while Lexus Safety Connect plus a class-leading 10 airbags help make it even safer, as well.
While Lexus did not confirm many powertrain output specifics, the 2013 ES Series is almost certain to share much in common with the motivational hardware found in its corporate cousin, the new-for-2012 Toyota Camry/Camry Hybrid. If so, an optimized version of the 3.5-liter V6 in the ES350 should make 268 horsepower and definitely will be backed by a six-speed automatic transmission while a 2.4-liter Atikinson Cycle four-cylinder matched with the Lexus Hybrid Drive package and a CVT automatic transmission will likely turn out around 200 horses and is "expected" to earn about a 40-mpg combined city/highway EPA rating.
A stiffer, stronger platform structure coupled with a host of chassis enhancements promise to make the 2013 Lexus ES Series more engaging, regardless of powertrain choice. Despite its slightly larger size, the greater use of high-strength steel trims nearly 90 pounds from the car's curb weight and quicker, more communicative steering plus revised rear suspension geometry and new shock absorber calibration should help both agility and responsiveness.
Like the rest of the package, the option roster on the 2013 Lexus ES Series has also become more sophisticated. In addition to an HDD Navigation System and 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium audio upgrade, the ES Series will offer a host of available safety enhancements, including Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) integrated with automatic high-beam-dimming technology and the Pre-Collision System (PCS).
The 2013 Lexus ES350 and Lexus ES300h will arrive in dealer showrooms this August. Pricing will be released closer to the on-sale date.