These pages reported on the 2013 models of the Lexus ES 350 and the hybrid version, the ES 300h, when the cars debuted at the New York Motor Show in April.
The midsize luxury sedan ES 300h caught our eye in particular because it was the first time the company had brought its Lexus Hybrid Drive technology to the ES range.
According to the company, the ES 300h will feature a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and is expected to earn EPA fuel economy ratings of around 40 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 39 mpg combined.
Fuel economy estimates for the ES 350 by comparison are for 21 mpg in city, 31 mpg on highway and 24 mpg combined.
The total system horsepower generated by the hybrid will be 200. Lexus say the compression ratio of the hybrid's engine has been increased and a power management system installed to make the engine low friction and increase overall efficiency. The engine is equipped with an electric water pump, electric power steering, and an integrated hybrid electric motor/generator.
The ES 300h also features a fully electric mode which allows short distance drives, at reduced speed, using only the power from the battery pack.
Both new models feature modifications to the exterior design including a lower profile and clean styling lines from front to rear. Lexus says the remodeling of the car's four corners, pulling them tightly inward to the wheel arches, has created distinctive proportions in the finished product.
Other details specific to the hybrid include unique blue badging, exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels, the choice of bamboo for the interior trim and eight years/100,000 miles coverage for all hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery-control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter.
"Since its introduction in 1989, the ES has been the benchmark luxury sedan for quality, reliability, ride comfort and value," Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager, said in a statement. "The new ES 350 and the first ever ES hybrid raise the bar once again."
"The ES has always been a customer favorite and a key model for Lexus," Templin added.
The ES 300h will join a healthy stable of Lexus hybrids, including CT hatchback, HS sedan, and variants of the GS midsize sport sedan, the LS luxury sedan and RX compact SUV.
The LS 600h L got a welcome boost of PR last summer when it was selected for use by Monaco's Prince Albert II on the occasion of his royal wedding. Prince Albert, who is known to be a big fan of clean tech cars, used a modified version of the Lexus for his marriage to Ms. Charlene Wittstock.