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STYLING | 7 out of 10
That leather-and-wood dash gets divided horizontally into zones: The “display zone” runs along the top, while the “operation zone” occupies the middle real estate.
The restyle adds character and panache to a car that desperately needed a big dose of it, and the resemblance to the senior Lexus will surely appeal to social climbers.
Style has never been a reason to buy a Lexus ES. On the contrary, the car's quiet rejection of fleeting trends gives it a timeless appeal.
Edmunds' Inside Line
still cautious but slightly more-outgoing styling
Car and Driver
The overall cabin motif is politely restrained to the point of sterility.
The ES has been completely redesigned for 2013, and while we’d call the new look significantly different inside, it's only somewhat evolved on the outside.
With some sharper details at the front and back, as well as a little more curvaceousness in the sheetmetal in between (especially back above the rear wheels), the 2013 ES models are just different enough to appear fresh, albeit too much in the stiff-and-formal direction.
The corners of the vehicle both in front and in back have been tucked a little closer than before, while corners are just a bit more squared-off, giving the ES a somewhat more trim look from some angles. From the front, the ES models get the new Lexus 'spindle grille’—we call it the hourglass grille—that tapers down to the bumper and then expands outward again below the bumper, continuing into the airdam, and more finely detailed headlamps with LED running lamps help punctuate. In back, the taillights now come to a point at a centerline that continues the beltline. All that said, the ES comes across as quite formal on the outside.
Inside, the ES follows the design path already taken with the new 2013 Lexus GS sedans, with a more horizontal orientation and a shelf-like centerline that bridges the top of the front doors. Only in the ES it’s not cockpit-like at all; while there's a wide center console separating the driver and passenger areas, the dash and door trims don't wrap or flow into each other. Instead, they form a pushed-out corner that serves to help maximize interior space. Yet the ES gets almost all the details right; we love the curviness atop the instrument panel (and the positioning of the hooded navigation screen), as well as the fluid, slightly curved nature of the lines and contours. The only thing we could do without is the overabundance of slightly tinted, matte-metallic trim and audio faceplate material; just like the piano black surfacing, this is simply too played-out.
The 2013 ES models still wear a very conservative topcoat, but the cabin carries a refreshing contemporary luxury look and feel.