New York: 2013 Lexus ES350 and ES300h Debut

Welcome back, Lexus. The Buick LaCrosse has been put on notice. After years of producing some bland, uninspired products the 2013 Lexus ES looks like one of the most impressive products from the brand to date.

The ES and RX have long been Lexus’ best sellers. The brand’s very bread-and-butter, a lot is riding on the next-generation ES. The current, geriatric ES has become uncompetitive with the rest of the segment. The good news (for Lexus) is that this has changed completely. The current ES is quite sleepy and largely devoid of any style.

The new ES takes things up to a notch, appearing to be a class up from where it really is priced. For one, this is the best application of the “spindle” grille yet. The overall package is large and looks very mini LS-like. The 2013 has a substance that the previous car clearly lacked. Lexus has upped its game, which is good to see.

Inside, the case is no different. The current ES has a dated, oval shaped design theme with acres of (good quality) plastic on the dash. The ES has the distinction of being the last car on the market to have a tape-deck. We’ll let you decide if that is a good thing or not…..

Regardless, the ES builds on the GS interior design, which itself took inspiration from the LFA supercar. The design is horizontal, with many different textures and layers. Style and substance – our favorite element is the chunky steering wheel. Kudos guys, the ES looks the part. The ES will be available in two model iterations – ES350 and ES300h. The former retains Lexus’ familiar 3.5-liter V-6 power.

The ES300h brings hybrid power to the lineup, with an apparent focus on fuel economy unlike previous Lexus efforts. The ES300h is powered by a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, which Lexus says will result in a combined 40 mpg city/highway. An EV mode will enable drivers of the ES to operate on battery-power only for short periods. Will this sway enthusiasts and those with a passion for driving? Not a chance. We also doubt the ES will appeal much to younger demographics. But for the core demographic the ES has always catered to, the 2013 ES350 just got a whole lot more appealing.

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