CNHI News Service


December 3, 2012

CARS: Soft Lexus gets bigger

The ES may be among the most forgettable of Lexus' cars, but it's also the most popular — by a long shot.

It's a strange situation. The softly sprung ES doesn't get a lot of attention from the motorhead press, but it sells in huge numbers. More than half of the cars Lexus sold last month were ES models, which is a big reason this vehicle has come to define the Lexus brand.

Consider this: Lexus builds a supercar, the LFA, but people still don't think of Lexus as an exotic brand in the mold of Ferrari or Lamborghini. It also builds some fun sports sedans, like the IS and GS, but it's not a sporty brand in the sense of BMW.

In fact, so much of Lexus' reputation is built around this one car, the ES, that it makes for major news when the bread-and-butter sedan gets a redesign.

That's just what happened this year.

The all-new 2013 ES is built on a fresh platform — based on the Toyota Avalon instead of the Camry — which means it has a longer wheelbase and a more spacious back seat.

It also has the same personality of the old ES, which is wonderfully dull. 

This is the way luxury cars should be. It feels like a tank covered in velvet and suede, with the rare combination of a cushy, comfortable, silent cabin along with solid construction that seems like it's built to withstand the eternities. It's a great feeling.

For driving enthusiasts, it's still a vanilla car. If you want something to get your pulse racing, the IS or GS would be a better choice, as the ES is designed more for floating down the highway than carving through corners.

And, while it looks more aggressive than the Camry-based car it's replacing, it's still understated. The styling is more about elegance than flash.

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