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Lexus ES 300h is an impressive hybrid sedan

When I heard about this new addition to the Lexus lineup, frankly I wasn't too excited. Hybrids seem to always come with another H - hype. And the prevailing opinion here was the new 2013 Lexus ES 300h would be disappointing.

However, this is one hybrid that lives up to its hype. The ES 300h has many of the same wonderful qualities of the redesigned 2013 Lexus ES 350. The 300h is a gas/electric version of the ES 350. Both cars have essentially identical standard and optional equipment, and also share the same interior and exterior changes.

Of course, the LS 350 can't compare to the 300h in one key category - gas mileage. The 300h gets 39-40 mpg.

2013 Lexus ES 300h

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 200 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 39-40 mpg
  • Price: $38,850
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain 7 years/70,000 miles; corrosion 6years/unlimited; roadside assistance 1year/10,000; hybrid components 8 years/100,000

One other major difference between the two vehicles is under the hood. The 300h features a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, that produces a combined 200 horsepower. Although it doesn't have as much performance as the ES 350, the hybrid is no slouch.

The 300h has been clocked going 0-60 mpg in 8.1 seconds, which isn't very quick for an entry-level luxury sedan. Yet it's good for a hybrid. And note that the 300h has three drive modes - eco, normal and sport.

Eco can be a little dull performance-wise from a starting position, but does fine afterward, and performs well in freeway passing situations. The normal mode delivers a little better than eco, and sport offers surprisingly good power.

For knowledgeable ES folks, an exterior change arrives with the redesign, the first one since 2007. The ES brand takes on a little different look with sharper features. The styling borrows from Lexus' signature hourglass-shaped grille, which Toyota's luxury division public relations department describes as a "spindle."

The 2013 ES has also added an inch in length and the wheelbase has been increased by nearly 2 inches. The other new facet with the 350 is being paired with the 300h. Note that both the ES 350 and the 300h come in one trim model only. You either like them as is or you don't.

Previously a luxury version of the Toyota Camry, the ES sedans now utilize the Toyota Avalon's longer platform.

The ES interior has also been altered. A more simplified cockpit has been replaced by one with more sophistication, and not surprisingly a more difficult learning curve with the controls. It features the Remote Touch electronic interface, which I think is too much of a distraction while driving.

But not everything has changed with the ES interior. It still features leather and soft materials that make for a very appealing combination.

Driving the ES has never been considered sporty for a luxury sedan, and that hasn't changed despite the redesign. But the new Avalon suspension and some steering changes have improved the way the ES handles overall. The braking remains good and even at high speeds the ES provides a quiet ride.

The redesign was a welcome change for the ES 350, which needed a little more modernization. The improvements keep the ES right where it has always resided as a great selection in the entry-level luxury midsize sedan field.

Lexus now offers two good choices with its ES class, and the price difference is not much of a factor. The 300h ($38,850) is about $2,700 more than the ES 350, which gets 21-31 mpg.

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Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.



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