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Lexus ES 350 to Be Built in US

  • Lexus ES 350 to be built in Kentucky
  • First U.S.-built Lexus model
  • Plant already builds Toyota models

Lexus will soon offer U.S. customers a domestically built vehicle, a first for Toyota’s luxury brand. The Lexus ES 350 sedan will be built along a new assembly line now under construction at a Toyota plant in Kentucky. The plant — in operation since 1988 — already builds several Toyota models as well as engines and engine components.

In our latest review of the ES 350, we praised the front-wheel-drive Lexus sedan for its spaciousness, quiet comfort and overall value. It’s not as sporty to drive as the other sedans in the Lexus lineup: the rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive IS, GS and LS. But with a starting price of $36,620, the ES brings upscale features and feel at a relatively affordable price.

In fact, the ES 350 shares common roots with popular Toyota models in production at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc., (TMMK) in Georgetown, Kentucky. The plant builds the Camry and Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Avalon Hybrid, and Venza. For now, Lexus has announced production of only the conventionally powered ES 350 at TMMK, not its hybrid sister model, the ES 300h.

In today’s global automotive industry, automakers often produce vehicles outside their home countries. American car companies build cars overseas, and brands foreign to the U.S. build cars here in the U.S. Globalized automotive production muddies the waters for new-car shoppers who want to buy American, because researching production details can be time-consuming.

But for shoppers in dealer showrooms, the task is easier. Most new-car window stickers list the vehicle’s country of origin, including the location of final assembly and foreign sources of parts.

Lexus expects the first Kentucky-built ES sedans to begin rolling off the line in fall of 2015.

What it means to you: Considering only U.S.-built luxury sedans? Late next year, the number of models that fit your criteria will grow to include the Lexus ES 350. Can’t wait? The Toyota Avalon is already built at the Kentucky plant that will soon produce the ES, too.

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