Lexus' next-gen ES sports new contours, tweaked grille

The next-generation Lexus ES sedan, which will debut at the Beijing auto show, will feature a more stylized body with a more prominent version of the brand's polarizing spindle grille.

The flattish sides of the current generation are replaced with more contoured shapes in the hybrid version of the midsize sedan previewed in a photo released Tuesday by Lexus.

The next ES shares a platform with the redesigned Toyota Avalon that goes on sale in May.

In the case of the Avalon, designers say the Toyota New Global Architecture allowed engineers to push down the suspension components, allowing for a lower center of gravity and a more aggressive stance.

The front-wheel-drive Avalon is equipped with a new six-cylinder engine and a new eight-speed automatic transmission shared with the redesigned Toyota Camry that went on sale last year.

The Avalon and the ES are produced -- on different assembly lines -- at Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Ky.
The ES has been "transformed for the world" with "engaging design" and "athletic performance," Lexus said in a statement Tuesday.

The ES was the top-selling midsize luxury car in the U.S. last year, with 51,398 deliveries. However, ES sales fell 12 percent in a segment that declined 7.9 percent as consumers migrate to light trucks. U.S. sales of the ES slipped 2.6 percent in the first quarter of this year.

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