2013 Lexus ES Preview

Lexus ES 350

Earlier this month, Lexus invited me to Newberg, Oregon, where I had the chance to try out the all-new sixth generation Lexus ES. The following is an overview of the new model — my personal impressions on the ES 350 & ES 300h will follow this weekend.

The ES sedan has been a staple of the Lexus brand since the very beginning, when the first-generation ES 250 was introduced alongside the flagship LS sedan at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show.

Over the last twenty-three years and five model generations, the ES has stayed its course as a full-size luxury sedan at an entry-level luxury price, making it a unique vehicle that competitors have yet to find an answer for. This latest edition, introduced at the New York Auto Show in April, takes the ES formula and refactors it, with an increase in overall size, a fresh and unexpected level of performance, and a significant upgrade to both the exterior and interior.

Please note that clicking on any image in this overview will display a larger version.

Exterior Design

Lexus ES Concept Sketch

In setting out to design the new ES, Lexus engineers had some very clear objectives:

  1. Increase the appeal of the model to younger buyers, and
  2. Incorporate the new L-Finesse design cues.

The first point is entirely subjective and up for discussion, but the L-Finesse update introduced with the fourth-generation GS is reflected throughout the exterior, starting with the spindle grille:

Lexus ES Spindle Grille

The ES now has a lower profile with an emphasis on aerodynamics, best illustrated with this graphic:

Lexus ES Exterior Aerodynamics

Here we can see the pronounced wheel flares and the straight-line airflow, which Lexus defines as a “flowing silhouette with pulled-in corners”.

The other functional design elements that help to direct air around the ES are fins built into the side mirror, the taillights and the panels underneath the vehicle:

Lexus ES Side Mirrors

Lexus ES Taillights

Lexus ES Under Panel Fins

Here are the ES aerodynamics in action:

But perhaps the most noticeable difference from the previous generation ES is the larger size:

Lexus ES Size Increase

Compared to the previous generation, the overall size has increased by 1.0 inch (25.4mm) and the wheelbase has jumped 1.8 inches (45.7mm) — this additional space has been used to boost the rear seat room.


The ES interior has been designed to use the two-zone template first seen in the third generation RX, with a clear break between the operation zone (highlighted in blue) and the display zone, which takes up the upper portion of the dash:

Lexus ES Interior Design Concept

The front seats have been redesigned and are more driver-focused, with an adjusted steering wheel position and greater height flexibility:

Lexus ES Steering Position

The ES now features the same steering wheel as the GS, a very noticeable upgrade over the current generation:

Lexus ES Steering Wheel

Of course, the biggest change by far is in the rear seats, where every dimension has been increased:

Lexus ES Rear Space

Lastly, here’s a photo of the night ambient lighting :

Lexus ES Ambient Lighting

(Also available in the Ultra Luxury package is a panoramic glass roof.)

Audio & Navigation

Lexus ES Sound System

The ES is offered with three different audio controllers:

  1. The base system has hardware audio controls and a LCD display built into the head unit.
  2. The ES is also offered with the Display Audio controller, which uses a dial to control the audio and climate controls via a 7-inch dash display.
  3. Finally, there is the second-generation Remote Touch controller, which uses a 8-inch display for audio control, climate control, and navigation. This option also includes Enform with built-in Internet app functionality.

There are also two audio system levels:

  1. The base system features eight speakers, Bluetooth audio, USB functionality and HD radio.
  2. The upgraded Mark Levinson audio system has fifteen speakers kicking out 835 watts.

ES 350 Technical Details

Lexus ES 350 Engine

The ES 350 continues to be powered by the 2GR-FE 3.5L V6 engine from the previous generation, which pushes out 268 hp and 248 lb.ft of torque and delivers 21 city/31 highway/24 combined mpg. Also carried over is the six-speed transmission.

However, one major improvement is the addition of the Lexus Drive Mode Select, which comes standard in every new ES. Three modes are available:

Lexus ES Drive Mode Select

  • Normal: The baseline between performance and fuel efficiency.
  • ECO: Maximizes fuel savings by smoothing out throttle application and moderating the air conditioning
  • Power: Full throttle control along with adjustments to the steering feel

ES 300h Technical Details

Lexus ES Hybrid Blueprint

The ES 300h is powered by a 2AR-FXE 2.5L 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle hybrid engine, mated with a E-CVT transaxle that uses two electric motors — one to generate electricity, the other to use electricity. As a result, the ES 300h has a combined 200 hp and 156 lb.ft of torque, and delivers an estimated 40 city/39 highway/39 combined mpg.

The ES 300h is also equipped with the same Drive Mode Select as the standard gas ES 350, but picks up an EV mode option that allows the vehicle to the vehicle go approximately 25 mph for up to a half mile purely on electric power.

One impressive aspect of the ES 300h is the compact design of the battery pack, which sits directly behind the rear seats:

Lexus ES Hybrid Battery Pack

Suspension & Chassis

Using similar techniques seen with the fourth generation GS, the new ES has moved to a more balanced suspension — there is still an emphasis on ride comfort, but handling has been much improved.

One focus was on body rigidity, with high-tensile-strength sheet steel used throughout the body (reducing weight by almost 90 pounds) and a number of braces added to the rear subframe:

Lexus ES High-Tensile-Strength Steel & Rear subframe

Additionally, the ES now has opposite-wound front coil springs, a revised rear suspension, and adjusted shock absorbers — all meant to improve ride comfort and overall stability. The Electric Power Steering (EPS) has also been reconfigured with a quicker ratio to improve responsiveness.

Safety Features

Lexus ES Ten Airbags

Beyond the ten airbags installed in the ES, there are a number of active safety features available, starting with the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert — two features best demonstrated by video:

Also added to the ES was Lane-Departure Alert:

Two other notable safety features: Intuitive Park Assist, which helps guide the driver into a parking spot using sonar, and automatic high beams.

Color & Wheel Options

The ES will debut the Silver Lining exterior color — the remainder are all existing Lexus colors:

Lexus ES Exterior Colors

The ES will be available in three interior colors — Black, Light Gray & Parchment:

Lexus ES Interior Colors

The ES 350 and ES 300h will both get an exclusive wood trim option, with Birdseye Maple for the ES 350 and Bamboo for the ES hybrid:

Lexus ES Interior Trim Options

The bamboo in the ES 300h is a much darker color than the wood previously seen in the GS hybrid — this is to prevent windshield glare.

The ES will be available with four different wheel designs:

Lexus ES Wheel Options

Standard Equipment

For the ES 350, standard equipment will include Drive Mode Select, LED daytime running lights, a power moonroof, 17-in. alloy wheels, smart key, automatic temperature control, 10-way power driver and passenger front seats, a NuLuxe interior, Bluetooth, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

For the ES 300h, standard equipment is the same as with the ES 350, but also includes EV Mode, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, hidden exhaust, and Bamboo interior trim.


In the USA, the ES will be offered with three packages, all of which will require either the optional Display Audio or Navigation system:

  • Premium Package (ES350/ES300h): Genuine wood trim, wood-trimmed and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, NuLuxe seat trim, driver seat memory, and the power tilt/telescopic steering wheel.
  • Luxury Package (ES 350/ES 300h): Premium Package plus HID headlamps, leather-trimmed interior, climate controlled seats (heated and ventilated), power rear sunshade, and Intuitive Park Assist.
  • Ultra Luxury Package (ES350/ES300h): Luxury Package plus the panoramic glass roof (ES 350 only), rain-sensing wipers with de-icer, heated wood steering wheel, passenger seat memory, driver’s seat cushion extender, ambient lighting, manual rear door shades, and one-touch power trunk.

There are also a number of separate factory options available, including Lexus Display Audio, the navigation package, navigation with Mark Levinson audio, Lexus Pre-Collision System (PCS) with dynamic radar cruise control, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure assist with auto high-beams.

This ends my technical overview of the 2013 ES — check back on the weekend for my personal impressions of both the ES 350 & ES 300h as I take to the roads of Newberg, Oregon. Special thanks to Lexus for inviting me to this event.


  1. Lexus isn't bringing this car to Europe. I'm sure it would be a great succes
    • They will bring it for sure by early 2014 and even releasing in countries which are right hand drive cars.
    • With its fuel economy, the ES 300h would make an interesting addition to the European lineup -- wish I knew what markets the right-hand drive model will be offered in.
  2. Pricing should be very interesting.   The new GS did not increase in price.  I'm thinking Lexus wants to increase market share, and pricing should stay pretty much the same. I would LIKE to see it start at $34,995, but I'm not holding my breath..... BD
    •  well the 2013 RX is $200 cheaper in our invoice than the 2012. So im pretty sure it will be the same with the ES 350. As far as the ES 300........ I kind of dont even want to know.
    • If this ES300h pricing it's lower than the ES350, it will be mind-blowing and sell like hotcakes. Pricing should be similar at the 2012 models since we didn't see any increase in the RX and the GS which was running through a mejor restyling.
  3. I wonder what the 300h will be priced at??
  4. Going by Erin Riches comments on this new generation ES being based on Camery platform. I understood by earlier introduction comments from LEXUS that the new ES was based on the Avalon frame hence the extra wheelbase length. Am I wrong in understanding or is she incorrect in her reporting?
    • The 2013 ES is built on the same platform as the new Avalon, though from my understanding, the Avalon is built on a stretched Camry platform.  Regardless, the ES is certainly bigger than the previous generation. :-)
  5. I miss all the chrome that is now gone from the side profile, but I certainly do like the increased size! BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER! It's interesting to see how "weight saving" has affected the engine bay.
  6. panoramic glass roof (ES 350 only) - Say it ain't so.    300h with a panoramic glass roof would have been my ideal car option.
    • Unfortunately, this is true. The ES Chief Engineer discussed his reasoning behind this -- he didn't like the extra weight from the glass roof affecting the gas mileage.
  7. It looks like they'll have about the same amount of standard equipment.   So why wouldn't the price be the same? BD
    • There's some minor differences, but essentially, you're correct -- hoping for very similar pricing between the ES 350 & ES 300h.
  8. seems like a bargain! Love the ES just because you get good luxury, fuel econ, and heck with it a Lexus badge for a pretty good price
  9. Yes the Es300h Lexus should take to Europe, i think they would sell very nice of the Es300h here, and it would strength the Lexus hybrid brand. And if they want even bigger sales make it a wagon to, and keep base price below 40"euro. Keep up the good work Kevin
  10. Impressive car the ES350 What I notice is that they're removed all those plasti engine covers.. Less weight :D !!
  11. Elsewhere (in another automotive review of the new ES) I have read that the 18" wheels for the ES350 (which I much prefer to the 17" styles shown) will only be available if the Ultra Luxury package is also purchased. Can anyone clarify whether or not this is accurate? 
    • I'm sure the 18-inch wheels will be available as an add-on -- it wasn't clear which wheels would be included in which package.
    • Thanks, that's good to know. It's a shame, however, that the hybrid model won't be available with the 18" wheels. Several preproduction photos (attributable to Lexus, I believe) mistakenly show a silver ES300h sporting the 18" wheels.
    • Yeah, this happened at the New York Auto Show for the ES debut -- it was just for show.
  12. Excellent write up Krew!   Keep 'em coming, especially for the future models.... The accurate info & videos were a nice touch, how a  write up should be done. Lol I like the car alot too, great job on this one LEXUS!!! Can't wait to see the next coupe, executed in similar fashion...... 
  13. From the night picture , it show even the gear gate have lights ?!
  14. I've a question , if there's Lane-Departure Alert & I have to change lane , I have to turn signal on , right (so it won't whining when I change lane) ? What if , when I'm driving on a road , suddenly there's kids or animals came out , I've to change lane quickly , would it keep whining (or it would stop when I back to original lane) ?
    • There wasn't much opportunity to use the lane-departure alert in Oregon -- in fact, I don't believe it was equipped in any vehicle I drove. Still, based on my recollection in the LS, which has lane-departure assist (actually keeps you in the lane rather than just giving a warning), the minute the line is broken by both wheels, the system turns off.
    • You meant ... the system will calcute how fast the driver change lane & it will know if that was an accident avoiding or just pure mistake/tired/lack-of-concentration ? There's another thing is , would the Lane-Departure Alert works find on RHD country ?
  15. Are we finally going to see a display of the actual tire pressures as does most new cars?
  16. will the es 250 have panoramic glass roof