SHANGHAI -- After surveying customers in China and the U.S., Lexus came up with a more aggressive look for the freshened ES sedan that goes into production in the U.S. 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 Lexus' top seller in China and its No. 2 nameplate in the U.S., behind the RX crossover.
The midcycle update gives the ES a wider, sportier spindle grille, LED headlights and running lights, L-shaped LED taillights and subtle interior refinements. The U.S. version also will get a redesigned rear diffuser.
The car was unveiled last week at the Shanghai auto show. It will go into production by year end on a Lexus line being installed at Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., plant, making it the first Lexus vehicle to be assembled in the United States.
One goal of the update is to win a slightly younger customer base, Asahi told Automotive News.
The ES still pulls in buyers in their 50s and 60s, and that's partly its job. Under Lexus' new two-pronged 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.