The Lexus ES is like the Rodney Dangerfield of the car world — it can’t get any respect, despite being the popular favourite of the Lexus line-up in North America and being one of the best looking cars in its segment generation after generation.
Still, it’s often disparaged as a tarted-up Toyota Camry and a car for those who can’t afford the flagship LS or the high-performance IS F, but still want to put on airs about their status in life.
Over the generations, the ES has tried to distance itself from its Camry sibling and the latest version for 2016 goes a considerable step farther with styling cues in keeping with the latest Lexus design theme.
The large trademark grille, trimmed in satin chrome, hints at a more performance oriented sedan, while an enhanced interior provides a more luxurious experience. In addition, the car benefits from the Lexus Safety System suite of safety features.
“Our development concept was ‘Take the ES to the next level of elegance and progressive luxury,’” said Toshio Asahi, ES Chief Engineer. “The Lexus ES is renowned for its innovative exterior and interior design. We wanted to build on that and make it more elegant, and tailor the car with the latest technology.”
The nose features the sometimes controversial spindle grille, bookended by redesigned headlights with arrowhead LED daytime running lights that extend beyond the headlight bezel boundaries. Fog lights are located in redesigned housings that have moved to the lower corners of the face to accentuate the car’s wide stance.
The rear is also redesigned, keeping the “L” theme in the taillight design and finishing off with new chrome tipped rectangular exhaust openings. New wheel designs define the forward-leaning profile of the car.
Four new colours join the exterior palette, all featuring the “healing” paint technology that allows the clear-coat to repair itself from light damage such as scuffs and scratches.
The interior also gets new colour combinations and upholstery and trim materials. Four new wood accents add to the luxurious surrounds, including the high end Shimamoku ornamentation and a matte finished bamboo.
A larger display screen is front and centre on the dash, and an enhanced Remote Touch Interface (RTI) adds “enter” buttons to both sides of the controller.
The ride has been enhanced to provide cabin occupants with even quieter and smoother riding experience, while handling is improved through chassis tuning learned from the IS sedan.
Power continues to come from the 3.5-litre V6 (ES 350) and 2.5-litre four-cylinder (ES 300h hybrid) engines, though elsewhere in the world, the ES gets a new 2.0-litre direct injected four-cylinder engine.
The new Lexus Safety System features a Pre-Collision System (PCS) that can detect vehicles and pedestrians, in some circumstances, by a combination of millimeter-wave radar and front-facing camera, Brake Assist, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam headlights and adaptive Radar Cruise Control.