First Drive: 2013 Lexus ES reviews luxury cars lexus first drives
2013 Lexus ES. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2013 Lexus ES

Portland, Oregon — Arriving in showrooms in late August 2012, the 2013 Lexus ES wears the brand’s new sportier styling cues while gaining length, acquiring a stiffer chassis, increasing wheelbase and adding passenger volume. Most noticeable at a glance is the ES adoption of the new Lexus “spindle” grille, designed to project a more aggressive character to the full line of Lexus vehicles.

Until the 2013 model, the ES was Lexus’s entry-level midsize, non-hybrid sedan. It’s still midsize (albeit a rather large midsize), and it’s still a sedan, but this year it adds a hybrid version, the ES 300h. This leaves only the IS line of Lexus cars unavailable with a hybrid version.

Introduced in 1989, the 2013 Lexus ES is the sixth generation of this model, which continues to be a front-wheel drive car based on the Toyota Camry platform. The ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-litre 268-horsepower V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The ES 300h hybrid is powered by a 2.5L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine that in conjunction with the electric motor makes 200 hp. The ES 300h hybrid drive system is also found in the Toyota Camry Hybrid, although there are some differences in tuning.

First Drive: 2013 Lexus ES reviews luxury cars lexus first drives
First Drive: 2013 Lexus ES reviews luxury cars lexus first drives
2013 Lexus ES. Click image to enlarge

All 2013 ES models receive a three-mode drive mode system consisting of Eco, Normal and Sport settings activated by a knob located on the centre console. This system varies the vehicle’s steering and throttle response along with the air conditioning (but not the suspension) to enhance fuel economy or performance, in addition to supplying an optimum combination of both attributes in Normal mode.

As with the recently-released 2013 Lexus GS, Lexus is seeking to reposition the ES (and eventually the brand) by adding a healthy level of sportiness to its luxury character. Consequently the ES exterior styling is crisp, the “face” of the vehicle looks more aggressive, and the interior is finely tailored and functional .

Lexus refers to these developments as “Neo Luxury” and “Neo Smart,” setting “new benchmarks for luxury, and an elegant and sporty exterior,” and featuring “advanced technology, a driver-focused cabin, fuel efficiency and advanced safety”

The new model is available with an array of advanced options and standard features, including rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, heated steering wheel, and 10 airbags. The ES also receives underbody panels to improve airflow and fuel efficiency, a revised front suspension, an all new rear suspension (shared with the Camry), electric power assist steering, and 17-inch alloy wheels with 18-inch available for ES 350. A tire pressure monitor with auto location tests the tire pressure whenever car is started.

Although the ES dimensions are not changed significantly (length is up by 25mm, height and width unchanged in comparison to outgoing model) the wheelbase is increased by 45.7 mm which adds 540 litres more room to the interior. The additional room directly contributes to increasing rear passenger legroom which gains a generous 104 mm, and knee room which increases by 71 mm.




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).