2019 Lexus ES Becomes First Production Car to Replace Side Mirrors With Cameras
Lexus has announced the 2019 ES sedan for Japan, saying the model will further enhance ride comfort and driving dynamics in its seventh generation while also raising consumer expectations of the tech that goes into making a premium vehicle. Don’t start groaning yet; this doesn’t have anything to do with overblown self-driving capabilities. Toyota’s luxury arm wouldn’t do that to you.
Instead, the ES will become the first production vehicle to replace conventional side mirrors with optional cameras. Dubbed “Digital Side-View Monitors,” the system use exterior cameras mounted on the front doors to transmit images to two 5-inch monitors inside the cabin at the base of each A-pillar.
The benefits, according to Lexus, are reduced wind noise and and superior forward views out of the side windows. We’d imagine the real appeal is having one up on your neighbors, as they certainly won’t have digital mirrors on their car.
However, your neighborhood had better be in Japan if this kind of social gamesmanship appeals to you. Safety regulations in the United States will prohibit the camera system’s implementation here, leaving you to suffer with regular old side mirrors. But that doesn’t leave Toyota’s New Global Architecture K platform with nothing to offer. The ES comes with a comprehensive and high-tech safety suite, that includes pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, intelligent high beams, dynamic cruise control with road-sign assist, lane departure warning with steering assist, and lane-tracing assist.
Engine options include a 3.5-liter V6 running 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic on the ES 300. Meanwhile, the 300h receives a hybridized 2.5-liter inline-four.
Lexus’ engineers claim to have implemented the highest levels of sound absorption, sound insulation, and canceling measures possible to ensure a quiet ride. This includes alterations to the car’s exterior shape, developed through many hours of wind-tunnel testing, and further improved by those slimmer digital side mirrors.
Larger, lighter, and better looking than the outgoing ES, the 2019 model seems to go the extra mile to exude a premium feel. While luxury seems to be the primary design focus, Lexus hasn’t ignored dynamics. Interior controls wrap around the pilot to give easy access and the manufacturer has promised the wider exterior proportions and tires will serve to enhance handling and overall stability.
Lexus also said the front shock absorbers of any ES not featuring fancy Adaptive Variable Suspension will be equipped with a new ultra low-velocity valve in the piston that manages oil flow “in response to the most minor of road irregularities and generates appropriate damping force.”
Everything we’ve mentioned, save for the side cameras, should be available in North America. However, Lexus will likely make a follow-up announcement for this market.
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