Already in the 2013 model year, Lexus is shipping its new GS sedans--the GS 350 we like best as an F Sport, and the GS 450h we're finagling more time in for a future road test. The follow-up act? A pair of ES sedans making their world debut at the 2012 New York auto show, including a first-ever hybrid for what used to be Lexus' entry-level sedan.
The new ES 350 and ES 300h run in parallel when it comes to styling, for the most part--both are thicker, more muscular than the "L-finesse" sedans they're replacing. The interiors share some of the bigger GS's horizontal styling themes, down to the hybrid's bamboo trim. Gas-electric versions have just some badging and hidden exhaust tips to give away their identity.
The powertrains are closely related to the ones in the Camry. The ES 350's 3.5-liter V-6 has 268 horsepower, sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic, just as before; the hybrid's 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four helps it achieve a blended fuel-economy rating estimated at 40 mpg, nearly identical to the Camry Hybrid's 41 mpg.
Both ES sedans get a full set of advanced safety features, and Enform, the mobile-app connectivity suite. Faux-leather interiors are now standard, but leather's still available, and there's a swanky new semi-aniline interior for those who don't mind pushing the price limits.