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Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2012 New York Auto Show in New York City.
Lexus ES

What is it? The Lexus ES has always been a plusher—but no more exciting—version of the Toyota Camry, but curiously it has lacked a hybrid version.

But for 2013 that changes, as the ES 350 is joined by the 300h hybrid version. The 300h uses the same drivetrain found in the Camry Hybrid: a 2.5-liter four cylinder that is, according to Lexus, expected to return an EPA combined rating for 40 mpg city/highway.

The ES 350 gets a 3.5-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic.

Both the exterior and interior of the car are redesigned, with many of the same features from the new Camry making it into the ES. The cabin is roomier and visibility has improved. But unlike Camry, the ES gets the Remote Touch Interface controller found in the HS and RX. In addition, the Lexus Enform—like Toyota Etune—system provides Internet and app connectivity via a smartphone.

What is new or notable? Despite growing and adding luxury features, the ES is 90 pounds lighter than the 2012 car.

CRs take: Lexus says the suspension and steering changes, along with a stiffer body, will deliver more precise handling. While the redesigned Camry had improved driving dynamics, it isn’t a sports sedan. Given the IS and GS sedans in the Lexus lineup, don’t expect the ES to be challenging Audi, BMW, or Cadillac for driving excitement.

When will it be available? Summer 2012.

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