It's no secret that Lexus is a division of Toyota and that many of its vehicles are based on more plebian Toyota products. So it stands to reason that when a new Toyota model bows, its Lexus equivalent will soon follow suit. Such is the case with the new ES 350. Based on the new Toyota Camry introduced last year, the all-new 2013 ES builds on this proven platform with oodles of luxury features and the refinement you'd expect from a Lexus. Now in its sixth generation, the new ES features edgier styling outside and standard NuLuxe synthetic leather inside. The real stuff is also available, as are a number of luxury option packages. Feeling green? Then go for the new Lexus ES 300h hybrid, for an EPA estimated 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway.
Lexus pulled the veil off its new ES today at the New York International Auto Show. There will be two models offered, the ES 350 and ES 300h. The ES 350 is powered by a gasoline 3.5-liter V6 engine with Dual VVT-i that produces 268 bhp. It comes mated to Lexus’ electronically controlled transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) that’s been designed to deliver good performance, smoother shifts and improved fuel efficiency through use of low friction materials. The ES 300h is a hybrid version of the sedan that features a new low-friction VVT-i-equipped 2.5-liter inline-4 Atkinson-cycle engine that utilizes a sophisticated power management system and has a 12.5:1 compression ratio. This engine, combined with a beltless electric motor, is designed to improve fuel economy and durability, and a near zero evaporative fuel system helps reduce emissions. Power will be 200 hp combined. The ES 300h hybrid offers four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco and EV, the last allowing short drives at reduced speed, using only the power from the hybrid battery pack. Normal mode provides a blend of performance and efficiency that is suited to everyday driving, while Eco mode favors fuel economy. Sport mode increases performance and responsiveness. Lexus says the ES 300h will get 39/40 mpg city/highway.
The new ES ought to handle better than its predecessor, thanks to suspension and steering changes and a stiffer body. Opposite-wound coil springs on the front suspension enhance straight-line stability, while revised rear suspension geometry and improved shock absorber damping characteristics enhance ride comfort. A reduction in the steering gear ratio delivers better steering feel. Increased body rigidity is achieved through lightweight, high tensile strength steel, added bracing and additional spot welds. Despite the car’s larger size, the weight of the new ES is reduced by almost 90 pounds.
The ES will be equipped with standard 215/55R-17 low rolling resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, and for the first time, available 18-inch high-gloss alloy wheels.
The car’s exterior design adopts the new Lexus signature “spindle” grille, making it look remarkably similar to the new GS sedan, but this isn’t a bad thing. The new ES features a lower, progressive profile and clean, continuous styling lines from front to rear. The wheelbase of the new ES has been lengthened by 1.8 inches, while the overall length of the vehicle has grown by just one inch, resulting in a more spacious interior. Look for the new ES to reach dealer showrooms in August of this year.
R&T Overview:If you’ve ever been to a Corvette owners’ gathering, you’ll hear: “It’s not if you buy a Corvette, it’s when.” We call it an affordable legend. Every tiny detail is scrutinized by these folks, such as this year’s addition of the Z06 model’s rear spoiler to all convertibles. And new this year is the Grand Sport, which essentially has the Z06’s suspension and added width, not to mention Porsche-style dry-sump oiling for its 6.2-liter V-8, and a rear-mounted battery. The Z06 model adds a power passenger seat, while the potent ZR1 gets “traction management,” which allows you Nürburgring-quality driving experiences here on home soil. Simply put, the Corvette is the common man’s supercar, a performance bargain.
R&T Overview:The SLR McLaren is dead; long live the SLS AMG. A pitch-perfect update of the original 300SL, this stunning gullwing coupe includes AMG’s best, including a 571-bhp 6.2-liter V-8 and 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle. From there, the specs get more racer-like: aluminum space-frame chassis with double-wishbone suspension, carbon-fiber driveshaft, and ceramic brakes with 15.4-in. front/ and 14.2-in. rear rotors. The interior cossets driver and passenger in form-fitting, magnesium-frame sport seats, in an aircraft-quality cockpit that offers Designo leather, Bang & Olufsen stereo and Keyless-Go as options. It’s enough to make the $185K price tag seem a bargain.
Last year, the MKZ gained the Hybrid model with a 4-cylinder engine and electric motor combination good for a total of 191 hp and an impressive 41 city/36 highway mileage ratings or about 700 miles per tank. Boasting one of the best hybrid powertrains available, the MKZ Hybrid can touch 47 mph on electric power alone, and is a winner in urban driving. Sales of the MKZ Hybrid are running above expectations, and with Lincoln holding the price of the base Hybrid at the same $34,645 as the standard gasoline V-6 model, the gas/electric is a compelling choice. For open-road duty, the 263 bhp V-6 shows the good MKZ chassis to advantage. Luxury features are abundant; new for 2012 is AppLink for voice control of smartphones.