SHANGHAI -- Lexus surveyed customers in China and the U.S. to come up with the more aggressive looks of the refreshed ES sedan that goes into production in the U.S. later this year.
Toshio Asahi, the car’s chief engineer, said those two customer groups had the biggest voice for a reason: The entry sedan is the Toyota Motor Corp. luxury brand’s top seller in China, and the No. 2 Lexus nameplate in the U.S., behind the RX crossover.
The midcycle update gives the ES a wider, sportier spindle grille, LED lighting in headlamps and running lights, L-shaped LED taillamps and subtle interior refinements.
The U.S. version also will get a redesigned rear diffuser.
The car was unveiled Monday on the first press day of the Shanghai auto show. The update will go into production by year end at a new Lexus line being installed at Toyota’s Georgetown, Ky., plant, making it the first Lexus vehicle to be assembled in the United States.
The RX crossover is built in Canada.
One goal of the update is to win a slightly younger customer base, Asahi told Automotive News on the sidelines of the Shanghai show.
The ES still pulls in buyers in their 50s and 60s, and that’s partly its job. Under Lexus’ new two-prong strategy, cars such as the ES aim to keep the older customers loyal, while new entries such as the NX compact crossover and RC coupe lure younger ones to the brand.
Inside, the ES gets a renewed cabin with a stronger sense of craftsmanship and quality, Lexus said. The seats get cushier quilting, and the liquid crystal display screen grows to 4.2 inches from 3.5.