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For its 6th-generation debut, the 2013 Lexus ES has a slightly larger design with fresh sheet metal, more interior amenities, better fuel economy, and a hybrid model named the ES 300h that uses a 4-cylinder gasoline engine and battery-powered electric motor to achieve up to 40 mpg.
The 2012 Lexus ES 350 is mostly unchanged from 2011, in which differences were also minimal after a facelift the year before. For 2012, the ES receives a new exterior color option, Nebula Gray Pearl, and is available in a Touring Edition that is limited to 2,000 cars and features a saddle-leather interior and high-gloss 17-inch wheels.
New features this year include side mirrors with integrated turn signals, revisions to the front and rear end, more center console storage, new 17-inch wheel options and a stability control cut off switch. Also new is an updated Lexus navigation system with Lexus Enform Voice Command, rain sensing wipers and the removal of the cassette deck from the standard audio. The Premium Sound system gains a USB port as well as Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming music capability.
After six generations, the Lexus ES sedan is still going strong for 2014, taking a backseat only to the RX crossover SUV in overall Lexus sales. BMW may make a sportier handling sedan and Audi may have a more opulent interior, but the ES's reputation for bulletproof reliability and resale speaks volumes about what matters most to luxury car buyers. A modest but capable V6 (in the ES 350), respectable handling and a long list of luxury features are the ES strengths, while the hybrid ES 300h offers all this plus 40 mpg. Aggressive yet handsome, the ES doesn't stray too far from the formula most buyers find appealing, and its user-friendly interfaces are a welcome relief from overly complex touch screens and button-littered dashboards. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.