Toyota’s Lexus brand introduced its all-new 2013 ES 350 and ES 300h, the sixth generation of the luxury sedan. The ES 350 features a new design and the 300h features the automaker’s new Lexus Hybrid Drive system.
The ES 350 comes with a 3.5L V-6 engine with Dual VVT-i that delivers 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,700. Fuel economy for this engine is 21 mpg city, 31 highway, 24 combined. The six-speed automatic transmission features Electronically Controlled Transmission with Intelligence (ECT-i) for improved performance, fuel economy, and smooth shifting.
The 300h features the new Lexus Hybrid Drive, which comes with a 2.5L four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and integrated hybrid motor. The system can generate up to 200 hp, and gets 40 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 39 mpg combined.
Both models feature a Drive Mode selector, which offers Normal, Sport, and Eco modes as options. Normal mode provides a mix of performance and efficiency, Eco focuses on fuel economy, and Sport mode increases powertrain and steering response. The 300h features an electric vehicle mode that allows the vehicle to travel short distances using battery power alone.
When it comes to handling, the ES 350 features improved front and rear suspension and a reduced steering ratio to deliver more responsive steering.
Lexus lengthened the wheelbase of the new ES by 1.8 inches and the overall vehicle length by 1 inch, which provides shorter overhangs and more interior space. The new ES features the Lexus “spindle”-design grille. The daytime LED running lights and combination tail lamps have an “L” design motif. The ES 350 features dual exhaust pipes, whereas the ES 300h features a rear design with a hidden exhaust and integrated rear spoiler.
The ES comes with standard 215/55R17 low rolling resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels. High-gloss 17-inch wheels and, for the first time, 18-inch high-gloss alloy wheels, are optional on the ES 350. The ES 300h features 17-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the ES features new cabin materials, enhanced visibility, and “logically placed” controls, according to Toyota. The redesign provides rear-seat passengers with more legroom and overall more space in the cabin. The cabin provides 0.8 inches of more head room, 2.8 inches of additional knee room and 4.1 inches of leg room.
A 10-way adjustable power seat is standard on all ES models, Toyota stated, though a 12-way power seat that allows the seat cushion to extend by 1.4 inches for additional leg support is available. Toyota said it reduced the steering wheel angle from 24 degrees to 22 degrees to provide a “more natural” control position. Seating materials include NuLuxe, genuine leather, and a semi-aniline leather.
Interior colors come in Black, Light Gray and Parchment. Trim colors and materials include Piano Black, Espresso Bird’s-eye Maple, plus a “Bamboo” option for the ES 300h.
The cockpit’s display and operation areas are separate, designed to keep the driver focused on the road, and the instrument panel display is directly in the driver’s line of sight. A 3.5-inch TFT display screen is standard, and a navigation and multimedia system is available.
The second-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) allows a user to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, optional navigation system, among other systems. Toyota said RTI reduces the need for hand and eye movement to decrease driver distraction.
The optional HDD navigation systems features voice controls, an integrated backup camera, an 8-inch screen and the Lexus Enform system with the App Suite. Enform provides access to Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places via compatible smart phones. Apps can be updated via over-the-air downloads so new content can be added as it becomes available.
The Lexus Premium Sound System is standard. It comes with eight-speakers with Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL), an in-dash CD player, a USB/iPod connection and an integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio receiver with a 90-day trial subscription. The optional Display Audio package adds a 7-inch screen, HD Radio with iTunes tagging, Bluetooth audio, phone transfer, a vehicle information display, and a rear backup camera. A Mark Levinson sound system with 15 speakers is available and adds DVD audio/video.
The new ES features an optional blind spot monitoring system with a rear cross-traffic alert feature, which helps detects vehicles in side blind spots. A lane departure alert system is available, and is integrated with automatic high-beam dimming. Another optional technology is the Pre-Collision System, which uses wave radar to detect obstructions ahead and prepare the vehicle before a collision.
The vehicles come with 10 standard airbags, including driver and front passenger knee, front and seat-mounted air bags, as well as rear seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags. The front seats feature a “Whiplash Injury Lessening” design.
Another option is Lexus Safety Connect, which includes Enhanced Roadside Assistance, an Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), Stolen Vehicle Location services, and an Automatic Collision Notification feature. This system comes with a one-year trial subscription on all Lexus vehicles.
Toyota said all new Lexus vehicles come with a 48-month/50,000 mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles. The automaker provides powertrain and restraint system coverage for 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage. Hybrid-related components (including the HV battery, battery-control module, hybrid control module, and inverter with converter), are covered for eight years/100,000 miles.