By on May 2, 2017

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In a manner of speaking, that is. A recent report cast doubt on the future of Lexus’ rear-drive performance sedan, the GS, claiming that development of a next-generation model was off the table. That would make next year the GS’ last.

While Lexus wouldn’t confirm the report, a spokesperson’s choice of words was enough to add to the rumor. In a marketplace that’s big on SUVs and downright miserable to cars, it would make sense for Lexus to get ahead of the “too many cars” problem faced by the likes of Hyundai and pare down its lineup.

Now, another report says Lexus will call on a different model to fill the gap.

The ES, cousin to the Toyota Camry and Avalon, can thank lesser models for durable architecture and content that keeps customers coming back for more. It also makes the ES a relatively low-cost product for Lexus, development wise.

According to an unconfirmed report in Russia’s Auto Review, the automaker will serve up the replacement for the current-generation ES as the successor to both midsize models.

For the 2018 model year, the staid Camry adopts the automaker’s modular TNGA platform and an edgier body that Toyota hopes will rekindle interest in sedans. The new platform promises a lower center of gravity and improved driving dynamics. It also means vehicles based on the new architecture can easily incorporate all-wheel drive into the options list.

Will Lexus transform the ES — which is expected to adopt the TNGA platform for 2019 — into a do-all model, giving the dwindling pool of GS buyers something to think about while keeping the ES stable happy? Considering Lexus has no problem creating a 2018 LS 500 F Sport, it’s not a crazy idea.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]

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41 Comments on “It’s Looking More Likely That the ES is the New Lexus GS...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    LS is the new GS and for good measure ES will simply rise in price. Because Akio can.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Still the most ticketed owners drive Lexus ES. They must like disgruntled Toyota owners to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The ES isn’t sold in the EU nor Japan, the sedan lineup goes from IS > GS > LS. All 3 have layouts, and as to much of the competition.

      Is Lexus going to bring a Camry to a E-Class/5-series fight?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        LS sits on the new platform (TNGA), the fourth gen (XF40) sat on the N platform along with IS, GS, and SC amongst others. I suspect GS is going down with the ship as N is discontinued, so for your Lexus sedan needs it will be LS or ES moving forward (not sure what will happen to IS).

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_N_platform

      • 0 avatar
        WallMeerkat

        As Camry is no longer sold in Europe, doesn’t make a difference to sell the ES as the EU GS.

        No different to selling the previous EU Accord as an Acura in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Saw the new Camry at RIR during the NASCAR race this weekend.

        Trust me, it doesn’t scream, “I know nothing about cars, but read Consumer’s Reports” anymore. Had they not had a sign on it, I would have never assumed it’s a Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        The ES sells like hotcakes, mostly to the crowd that formerly bought Lincolns and Cadillacs, so I don’t think they’ll have a problem here. it’s an underserved market segment if you ask me, and they already have a proven winner there.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The ES can’t be a true 5 Series/E43/S6 competitor, but not everyone can keep making one of those in this sedan-hostile environment. There just aren’t enough sales to go around.

    But the ES can compete just fine with the A6 and E300 among those buyers if the right steps are taken. These are the right steps:

    1) A good all-wheel-drive system. A crappy Haldex implementation like you find on the gas RX350 won’t cut it, but a better one (like SH-AWD or the variant you find on S-model transverse Audis) might.

    2) A trim level that has AWD standard, a bit more firmness to the suspension and feel in the steering.

    3) Styling that minimizes the FWD layout a bit more than we’ve seen in ESes to date.

    Basically, copy an A6 2.0T in every respect except the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I remain firmly convinced that for 99% of the population, an “AWD” badge is needed more than a particular configuration or an extra set of halfshafts. If Lexus just slapped those letters on the back of the current ES, I bet sales jump 10% and no one is the wiser.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The trouble is that the other 1% includes car reviewers who will either say “Still a lame ES with understeer” or “Turns nicely” based on the way the AWD system works.

        Those journalists are the reason we still have longitudinal-engine Audis.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          No, the XTS, the Audi 4.0TT and quattro are why we still have longitudinal engine Audis. If anyone cared what auto journos had to say the top 5 selling vehicles in the US would be Mazdas.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            In the premium/upscale/luxury/expensive segment, reviewers hold lots of sway. In Mazda’s target market, much less so.

          • 0 avatar
            wsn

            @stuki

            That may be true. But the thing is, there is no need to please them. Even if a Toyota posts a better lap time, those reviewer would still say it doesn’t handle well. Deep down it’s not about the car.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The problem with adding AWD to a large FWD car is it subtracts food space from the floor in the back seat area. The current ES doesn’t have the floor hump for the drive shaft. http://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/5/2012/08/2013-Lexus-ES-350-rear-seating.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      If Toyota does end up dropping the GS in favor of moving the ES upmarket, the new ES will basically end up being a full-size, luxury FWD (AWD?) sedan priced alongside the midsize RWD, luxury sedans like the XTS, Continental, S90 and RLX – instead of being in the entry-level price-range.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        “priced alongside the midsize RWD, luxury sedans like the XTS, Continental, S90 and RLX – instead of being in the entry-level price-range.”

        Well none of those are RWD.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        However, in doing so, Toyota runs the risk of cutting a big chunk out of its ES sales as the size/price combo of the current ES is what makes it attractive to so many buyers (but Toyota will get the benefit of not having to sink development costs into another gen of the GS).

        So while a new ES as a GS replacement may see a bump up in price, likely won’t be as high as the other full-size, FWD luxury sedans.

        @Corey

        You’re misreading what I stated.

        An upmarket ES will now be like the other full-size, FWD sedans like the XTS, Conti, etc. that are priced alongside the midsize RWD sedans; granted, it remains to be seen if that is indeed the case (starting with the GS really being on the chopping block and whether the ES as a GS replacement will see such a price-hike).

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    V6 Turbo AWD ES = GS

    BTW Lexus, you’re welcome. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Dan, I dont even think they need a turbo…just take the Hybrid system from the RX and you will have more power and torque along with more MPGs at the same time.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “For the 2018 model year, the staid Camry adopts the automaker’s modular TNGA platform and an edgier body that Toyota hopes will rekindle interest in sedans”

    “This Camry just isn’t quite edgy enough in its styling”, said *not one person on Earth, ever*, especially about the current generation of overstyled Camry.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The ES looks like a Lexus from the front and rear – but every time I see it from the side, I see the more pedestrian underpinnings. In my eyes it’s just a little too slab-sided for an upscale car. But hey, the ES is still on my short list if I end up not finding an Infiniti G or M to my liking.

  • avatar
    DearS

    As much as I like the GS, I think this is a great idea. I don’t see why the ES would be more expensive. Just have some higher up trim levels added. The current trim levels could stay at the same price. I think a lot of the success of this car is related to price and bang for the buck. Just like the old CTS.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Is it just me, or does that car have the ground clearance of an F1 car?
    .
    .

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    After some time in the latest Maxima and time behind the wheel of my new-to-me G37, I’m not mad at this at all. The critical pieces will be a good available AWD system and good suspension calibration. If they can make a version with good suspension response and steering feedback I don’t think too many people will miss the GS.

    Problem with something like the GS is the compromise…. to really get your money’s worth with RWD you need the car to be a good bit rougher and sharper than the average luxury buyer wants. And there just aren’t enough people who want a razor sharp luxury sedan. So as much as I like the GS I can’t knock it. Plus they are getting into my price range used so I’m OK.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      How do you like the G37? It’s on the short list for my next car. I’m specifically worried about legroom since I’m 6’2″ and my teenage son is 6’4″ (!).

      I’m wondering if I should step up to the M37 – I really liked the older M35 I test drove and it was certainly roomy.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Corey has one, maybe he should chime in [cue for Corey].

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Bonjour,

          The M37 fixes a couple things wrong with the M35. It gives it the added refinement (not a ton) and power of the VQ37. It also adds the important 7-speed AT for additional fuel economy and quieting down the VQ. On a tank with mostly commuting, I’ll get about 18.5MPG on premium (AWD). With the price escalation in 93 octane fuel, it doesn’t matter whether I drive it or the Tahoe to work.

          The M also has better infotainment, with bigger screen.

          Beyond that, it’s plenty spacious and should be reliable, and has crap values on the used market because nobody wants it.

          I find it rides a bit too harshly for my tastes, and after a while in around town driving it gets annoying. Part of that is down to the OEM tires, which are the Goodyear RS-As. If I ever wear these tires out, I’ll pick something better.

          Not sure if they fixed the tire issue for the M37 or no.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        G37 is tight. Not much roomier inside than my Civic, at least length wise. It’s a bit wider.

        I would also seriously consider the Genesis. Very roomy and a lot more luxurious than any Infiniti IMO. I only passed on it because I couldn’t stand the transmission- makes it feel a lot slower than the G- and the aftermarket is weak. But it’s impressive.

  • avatar
    James2

    My parents have, except for the ES250, owned every subsequent version of the ES, and so I’ve had the chance to ride/drive all. My parents aren’t looking for ‘edgy’. They just want a smooth, quality ride and good dealer service. Oh well, my dad says this is probably their last car and they won’t get to sample Akio’s idea of an ‘exciting’ ES.

    With the current ES I feel Lexus has made a wrong turn. Its ride and even its seats aren’t as comfortable as the last-gen, guessing Lexus cut corners on both the leather and foam padding, while the steering is as disconnected as ever. Whoever thought up the mouse controller ought to lined up against a wall.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Toyota did the same with the suspension tuning of the Avalon and Camry in the goal of making them “sportier” (just ended up ruining their ride).

      But since then, Toyota has revised the suspension settings to get them closer to their previous softer ride.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    This makes sense. The ES can expand its market and the GS can finally die already. I’m willing to bet most people who bought a Lexus GS were up-sold by salesmen just to get the sales manager off their back about them sitting on the lots.

    I’ve driven both the GS and ES. I liked the ES better, and I’m 33. For a family that wants a spacious, comfy entry luxury “car” without breaking the bank, the ES is the car to buy. That or a Buick LaCrosse. The GS gives you less room, RWD, a marginally better interior and better handling, for what that’s worth sitting in traffic.

    All the next gen ES needs to keep its flat rear floor and an electric AWD option. Hell I would buy that to replace my wife’s aging 2010 Taurus SHO if we don’t pony up and lease a Lincoln Continental instead.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The GS (esp. the current gen) is a complete different sedan than the ES (sporty sedan as opposed to a soft highway cruiser).

      Problem is, the customer-base for Lexus isn’t known for having a large enough group to justify performance-oriented models.


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