Livelier Rear Axle Coming to Lexus ES?

livelier rear axle coming to lexus es

Far be it for us to foist accolades on a modern production car, but the current-generation Lexus ES is a taut, well-behaved sedan that feels like a quality item. It’s also front-wheel drive, which might be a no-go proposition in your books.

If those rear wheels aided in propelling the ES forward, would it change the equation? Because that’s what Lexus might have in mind. It’s a big might.

This tidbit of news, garnered from Lexus Enthusiast via Motor Authority, comes after the test drive of an ES300h prototype test drive offered to Japanese media. The vehicle in question came equipped with all-wheel drive.

Before you get too excited, it’s worth knowing that the rear axle of the ES300h driven in Japan has no mechanical connection to the engine. This is an E-axle affair, where a battery supplies power to an electric motor that motivates the rear wheels independent of the front wheels. It’s become an increasingly common presence in Toyota products of late, found on the RAV4 Hybrid, the Lexus UX, and even the Prius, which recently sought to boost its flagging popularity with a feature coveted in Snow Belt regions.

This is not a feature that offers drift opportunities and a 50:50 torque split; rather, it works up to a set speed to simply get a vehicle moving in low-grip conditions. Power supplied to the rear axle pales in comparison to even a hybrid’s downsized powerplant.

That said, there’s precious few details about the ES300h prototype’s AWD setup. The brand could choose to pack on the power in the aims of fielding a green sports sedan, or not. You won’t find a hybrid ES with the F Sport package, not that that addition brings AWD into the picture.

Nor is the ES or its Toyota Avalon sibling a very sporting vehicle in hybrid guise. Competent, smooth, and efficient, yes, but hardly a powerhouse. Adding ponies to the rear axle could help the model kick up its heels a bit, but given Toyota’s product direction, it would seem that any E-axle inclusion would lean more towards all-weather capability and general appeal, not thrills.

Lexus itself poured icy water on speculation of an AWD ES, claiming in an email to Motor Authority that the Lexus sedan was being employed as a test mule for electric drive technology. That’s still no guarantee that a future E-axle setup won’t appear in the large-ish midsizer.

Through the end of October, ES sales are up 7.4 percent in the U.S.

[Image: Steph Willems/TTAC]

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 10 comments
  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Nov 12, 2019

    Toyota/Lexus, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, KIA, and. Others continues to thank Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM) and Hackett-led Ford for nearly completely ceding this space to them, now, and in future years (when sedan sales march back up).

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Nov 14, 2019

    If it isn't RWD based, it's dead to me. Never.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.
Next