Whether they realize it or not, the ES is the car most people think of when they hear the name Lexus. For nearly 3 decades, it has been the go-to sedan for luxury shoppers, delivering that soft, smooth, sophisticated driving experience. But sexy has never been a part of this car’s lexicon. Well, Lexus is working to change that – this is the more sensuously styled all-new ES.
Big grilles, signature headlights, and lots of creases; the look of Lexus has morphed from ultra-conservative to look at me now and I like it! The ES has long since been their most staid sedan but those who were attracted to that trait will need to come out of their shell just a little bit. And not only does it possess a red carpet look, but it’s also more fun to drive. Parent company Toyota’s duo of new mid-size, front-wheel drive sedans have all proven their mettle on the road, eager to show off their newfound driving dynamism, transforming them from middling to marvelous. And this ES, which is longer, lower and wider with a more robust foundation, is no different.
The ES is priced from about $41,000 for the V6 model and from $42,335 for this gasoline-electric hybrid. Doubling down on old school nickel-metal hydride batteries, the electric motor’s energy source has been relocated from the trunk to underneath the back seat. This not only adds to trunk space but it also improves the car’s weight distribution for better handling. Much of the ES’s new 4th generation Hybrid Drive System is familiar but with numerous enhancements to further performance and fuel economy. With 20 additional horsepower and plus 12 pound-feet of torque, the new 2.5-liter gas engine and more power dense motor combine for 215 horsepower and 44mpg – besting the 40mpg of the previous car. But the nearly 700 mile driving range has been significantly reduced by this car’s smaller gas tank, down to 580 miles…still impressive, though. Lexus engineers set out to make this car drive more like its V6 sibling by masking the undesirable traits of a hybrid drivetrain, mainly the continuously variable transmission. Though it’s electronically controlled, the unwanted sounds and sensations are much the same. They have been mitigated but not eliminated.