The 2016 Lexus ES refresh is exceedingly safe and conservative — keeping the steady march of progress intact on a tentpole model in the Lexus model range. The new ES is instantly recognizable but tweaked and updated to match the new design ethos on some of Lexus’s more adventurous models.
Changes include a new nose and grille design, fresh headlights and a relocation of the LED foglamps into a new, more stylized and higher-mounted bumper shroud.
The ES has big chassis upgrades under the metal, with additional welds enhancing vehicle rigidity and therefore handling and NVH smoothness. A pair of new engines will be offered in non-US markets: an ES200 and ES250. These are not headed to the US market, which will continue with the existing quad-cam V6 in the ES350 and a hybrid setup for the ES300h.
Overall, continuity took precedence over flashy style for the new ES, which is likely just fine with its droves of loyal owners.
A bit wilder is the new RX200t F Sport, shown in Shanghai for the first time. This model shares the turbo four powerplant with the NX, and will be the entry-level engine in various global markets — but again, not the US.
Refreshed 2016 Lexus ES Fuses Striking Design with Refinement and Safety at Shanghai International Motor Show
- Lexus RX 200t Also Makes Global Debut
- Active Safety Technology Integrated Into Lexus Safety System+
For 2016, Lexus designers have cast a daring new form with the refreshed ES. A commanding front fascia that features Lexus’s trademark spindle grille, framed in combination with accentuated brilliant satin chrome, gives this new ES a new sense of luxury and instantly distinguishes it from the crowd. Accompanying the grille is a pair of newly designed headlights, now equipped with LED projector technology, while iconic “L”-shaped arrowhead Daytime Running Lights (DRL) extend outside the headlight element for a distinctive look that links it with other Lexus models. Also, redesigned fog lamps areas have been relocated to the outer lower corners of the front fascia and amplify the vehicle’s wide stance.
A re-sculpted front fascia connects to the hood adding the sensation of motion even when the car is standing still. The sleek shape continues with the ES’ graceful roofline that flows effortlessly to the rear, where an improved, modern taillight design evokes the “L”-shaped theme furnishing an instantly recognizable nighttime glow. Spanning the rear is a re-stylized chrome license plate garnish that flows visually into the clear elements of the lamps to communicate the vehicle’s on-road stability. Adding a considerable amount of flair to the vehicle’s already sporty attitude are newly sculpted chrome-tipped rectangular exhaust ports.
To complement the impactful new form, two 17-inch wheels with directional spoke patterns have been developed. A branching dark gray metallic, multi-plane machined 20-spoke wheel is optional for non-hybrids, while hybrids are distinguished with a 10-spoke design with machine finish over medium gray.
Four new exterior colors join the ES palette: Amber, Nightfall Mica, Caviar, and Eminent White Pearl. Like the six existing choices, each features Lexus’ innovative cutting-edge paint technology designed to allow the paint’s clear coat to heal itself even from light damage. Each of the 10 colors were carefully selected to reflect the ES’ dynamic surface and is brought to life by the renowned, multi-stage paint process that gives Lexus models their deep, jewel-like luster.
A Luxuriously Updated Cabin with New Levels of Sophistication
When it comes to luxury and refinement, Lexus has no equal. Engineered to provide driving confidence and the ultimate in comfort, the ES surrounds its occupants with a luxurious, contemporary cabin. From the sweeping dashboard reminiscent of modern architecture to highly intuitive ergonomics mated with the finest materials and surfaces, the ES cultivates a feeling of sheer quality with every touch.
The 2016 model takes luxury to the extreme with a collection of new interior color combinations, including exquisite multi-color themes that exemplify elegance. The seats are now offered in four different colors: Flaxen, Parchment, Stratus Gray and Black. Customers can choose from the three trim materials: semi-aniline leather, leather and Lexus NuLuxe.
In addition, four styles of interior trim have been carefully selected to harmonize with the color choice: Illustrious Piano Black, Linear Dark Mocha Wood, Espresso Bird’s Eye Maple with Shimamoku ornamentation, and new for 2016, Bamboo now has matte finish. First appearing in the GS and LS sedans, Shimamoku is a high-end finish of luxurious wood created through a multi-step manufacturing process by highly skilled craftsmen.
Furthermore, an embossed pattern has been added to the comfortable-yet-supportive seats. Additional trim enhancements to cabin-facing door surfaces and the center console unite the interior in upscale feel and design cohesion. Color-matched upholstery appears along the center console as well, coupled with a new leather boot-enclosed gear selector.
A new, sporty steering wheel provides better driving engagement. A larger 4.2-inchThin Film Transistor (TFT) color multi-information display conveniently places vital vehicle and route information as well as multimedia information front and center. To further enhance Remote Touch Interface (RTI) control, the 2016 ES adds “Enter” buttons on either side of the interface controller.
Refinement Taken to a New Level and an Expanded Engine Lineup
Since its inception, Lexus has offered quiet and smooth driving vehicles. The 2016 ES upholds that tradition with a host of improvements to provide the driver with an exciting experience.
For the new 2016 ES, Lexus engineers applied structural reinforcements to foster stiffness in the vehicle’s unibody construction. Adapted from the Lexus IS sports sedan, this form of chassis tuning arms the ES with enhanced ride quality and handling. Moreover, this ES adds a sound-reducing layer behind the dashboard to better isolate engine noise from the cabin.
New for 2016 in specific markets is a 2.0-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine. Engineered to meet China’s fuel economy regulations, the D4 engine will be offered in China, Russia and Taiwan. In the U.S., the luxury sedan will continue with its exceptionally smooth 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a gasoline-electric hybrid powerplant, while other markets also have a 2.5-liter L4 version. The ES now offers a range of powertrain options prioritized for fuel efficiency and power delivery, with enhanced sensitivity to the environment.
On the Cutting Edge of Safety—-Lexus Safety System +
The ES offers Lexus Safety System +, which combines key innovative safety technologies into a single, networked package. Among them are the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which can detect vehicles and pedestrians, in some circumstances, by a combination of millimeter-wave radar and front-facing camera. It dispatches a warning as Brake Assist (BA) and emergency braking are activated. The Lane Departure Alert (LDA) employs a camera to keep track of visible lane marking lines on the road. If the vehicle begins to unintentionally deviate from the lane, the LDA system will notify the driver with an audio-visual alert and vibration to the steering wheel. The Automatic High Beam (AHB) senses headlights from oncoming traffic and the taillight of the car in front, automatically adjusting hi-beam and low-beam illumination to help ensure optimal forward visibility during nighttime driving. The Radar Cruise Control uses millimeter-wave radar to detect the speed of the vehicle ahead in order to adjust the cruise control speed setting accordingly, helping to maintain a preset distance. This system also uses a combination of millimeter-wave radar and camera to detect a lane change by the vehicle in front for smooth acceleration and deceleration control.
“With improved performance, an expanded engine lineup and a quieter and thoroughly luxurious interior wrapped in a freshened chiseled body, the new ES builds efficiently on what has made it one of the most popular luxury sedans in the world, and we are confident that this latest version of the ES will build upon its past successes,” said Asahi.
The New RX 200t
While the new RX 350 and RX 450h luxury utility vehicles made a dazzling debut earlier this month at the New York International Auto Show, the RX 200t made its first appearance at the Shanghai International Motor Show, alongside the much-anticipated ES.
What sets the RX 200t apart from the vehicles introduced in North America is its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 under the hood, designed for select global markets, including China. The output of the powertrain, which features VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide) and a low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with air-to-liquid intercooler, will be aimed at more than 228 hp (170 kW). The gear ratios of the 6-speed automatic transmissions provide excellent acceleration off the line and exceptional passing power.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 joins the other RX’s engine offerings. One is an upgraded and more powerful 3.5-liter V6, which aims to deliver 300 hp and comes mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid model features an Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 that produces around 300 hp when combined with the electric motor. These engines have been tuned for greater fuel efficiency and low carbon emissions.
The RX features a new bold look to go along with its refined engines. The front of the vehicle is highlighted by a completely new fascia with an emboldened spindle grille and triple L-shape LED headlamps. A truly innovative styling cue is the blacked-out C-pillars, which provide a floating-roof effect never before seen on a Lexus product. The appearance of the rear has been sharpened and exudes a sense of rock-solid stability, as the new L-shaped taillights that wrap around the sides of the vehicle create a wider, more authoritative presence when illuminated.
Inside, the new RX’s cabin is one of comfort and luxury, with repositioned trim pieces that exude a high level of class, and specially-finished laser-cut ornamentation available for those who desire an extra dose of opulence. Rear-seat occupants are treated to more leg and knee space, and a retractable power panorama roof provides occupants with a refreshing open-air experience.
When it comes to delivering car-like handling, the RX has no peers. The entire chassis has been fortified to provide enhanced straight-line stability and control through turns. The RX’s fully independent suspension system has been tuned and reinforced for controlled handling while keeping ride quality remarkably smooth.
For those who prefer more excitement and performance in their luxury sport-utility vehicles, the RX F SPORT will be available with all of the model’s engine offerings. The RX F SPORT will feature, among other things, exclusive alloy wheels, “F SPORT” badges, and an “F” mesh design on the spindle grille to visually differentiate it from the other versions, while modifications to the chassis enhance the vehicle’s already superb cornering performance.
Lexus has always stressed safety technologies in all of its vehicles, so it should come as no surprise that the new RX is enhanced in the areas concerning the well-being of its occupants. Among these new changes is Lexus Safety System +, which is also available on ES. Adaptive High-beam System (AHS), a Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) and Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) are available as optional equipment.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
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