SUM UP (3 Stars)

By Automobile Magazine

What's New for ES300h in 2013

The ES350 is completely redesigned for 2013. The Hybrid model is a new addition. It is $2750 more expensive than the V-6 sedan but is EPA rated at a stratospheric 40/39 mpg city/highway...more

The 2013 Lexus ES300h offers a hybrid engine in an entry-level luxury sedan. Essentially an ES350, the ES300h is based on the Toyota Avalon and borrows its engine from the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The ES300h provides consistently predictable comfort with a spacious interior, a suitable ride, and fuel-economy that’s impressive even for a hybrid. A broad range of luxury and technology options help maintain the ES300h’s place as a good choice for buyers seeking a luxury hybrid at entry-level prices.

Exterior

The Lexus ES has consistently and predicatively evolved in looks and features from one refreshing to the next. The 2013 Lexus ES300h proves no exception. Lexus has adopted some styling cues from the new GS, like a more angular front, and a more sharpened stance. However, the ES's silhouette is still instantly familiar and the entire exterior remains a conservative expression of restraint. Lexus added a large, more angular Audi-esque grille which is shaped in a sharpened hour-glass design. Light-emitting diode (LED) running lamps trim the bottom headlight housing, and small fog lamps sit snugly in sharply concaved airdam-recesses. The details on the back of the ES fit the same sharp and angular theme. However, everything in between remains a case-study in typical Lexus styling.

Available exterior colors are notably deep and Lexus worthy. The Hybrid option wears the same 17-inch, split-six-spoke alloy wheels as the ES350 but deletes the availability of a panoramic glass roof. Overall, only a metallic badge separates the ES300h’s exterior from the ES350. One notable absence on this luxury-like sedan is that of standard high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. These lights have become ubiquitous as standard features in most luxury vehicles. HID headlamps can be included as an option but are not a standard feature.

Interior & Cargo

The 2013 Lexus ES300h offers a spacious cabin and gives occupants the most front and rear legroom in its class. The new ES presents a more modern and stylish environment than in the past, but often overdoes some of it touches. Too much matte-metallic trim and piano-black tint can create a monotonous feel in an otherwise luxurious cabin. Material quality varies depending on which luxury or interior package is purchased. Yet, in true Lexus fashion, excellent build quality can be found throughout. For the most part, the Hybrid looks and feels like a regular ES. One hybrid-exclusive touch is an available bamboo trim. True to hybrid eco-chic fashion, sustainable bamboo trim can be added to the 2013 Lexus ES300h. This includes steering-wheel trim which is bowed from a single piece of bamboo and then sanded by hand. The bamboo trim looks especially striking and would be an attractive option for all Lexus vehicles. Standard features include eight-way power front seats (with two-way adjustable lumbar) and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. A convenient auto-dimming rearview mirror comes standard as well.

Climate controls are still easy to learn and operate. However, available options like Display Audio or Navigation packages can quickly make things more complicated. The Lexus Remote Touch system is included in these packages and it is with this system where things can get tricky. A mouse-like device operates similarly to a laptop touch-pad and controls a cursor on a large, in-console screen. As with any new user interface, the system takes some practice to use effectively. Once mastered, occupants can easily access all the electronic conveniences and entertainment features expected from a luxury sedan.

Lexus based the 2013 ES model on the full-size Avalon rather than on the Camry like previous models. As a result, legs, heads, hips, and shoulders should find ample room. The ES350’s trunk space rates as average. The Hybrid reduces trunk capacity further by a 3.1-cubic feet reduction for a total of 12.1-cubic feet of volume. No other cargo capacities or passenger areas were affected by the hybrid addition.

Safety

Every 2013 Lexus ES300h comes standard with a class-leading, 10-airbag system. A Safety Connect communications option is available. This system incorporates automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, and an emergency assistance button (SOS). Enhanced Roadside Assistance comes standard with Safety Connect.

The standard Smart Stop Technology feature automatically reduces engine power when the brake pedal is firmly applied, even if the accelerator pedal is fully pressed. Other important standard safety features are stability control and traction control. A first-aid kit and small tool-kit also come along as standard features.

Optional safety features include parking sensors, a lane-departure warning system, and a blind-spot monitor. The blind-spot monitor includes a rear cross-traffic alert system. The optional adaptive cruise control includes a pre-collision system, which activates seat-belt pretensioners and applies the brakes in the event of an impending collision.

Driving Experience

Because so many Lexus ES owners trade-in their vehicles for a new ES, most drivers buy a driving experience which exactly meets their expectations. The same soft cruising and quiet ride indicative of Lexus vehicles have found their way into the 2013 ES. The 2013 Lexus ES300h delivers an even more serene driving experience on behalf of its all-electric hybrid power plant. The cabin remains silent at highway speeds. The suspension absorbs bumps and ruts so well that passengers barely notice rough roads.

The 2013 Lexus ES300h borrows the Toyota Camry Hybrid’s four-cylinder gas/electric powertrain. The four-cylinder engine mated with an electric motor produces 200 horsepower. The entire system is combined with front drive and a continuously variable automatic-transmission (CVT) to produce EPA rated 40/39 mpg city/highway fuel economy.

No Lexus ES can be deemed even slightly sporty. However, the 2013 ES includes a more structurally rigid body than before, and Lexus has improved its suspension and steering. While still not sporty, the additions produce more precise steering responses and better handling than in the past. But the 2013 Lexus ES300h is more about fuel economy than quarter-mile sprints, and this Lexus moves pretty quick for a hybrid.

Key Competitors For The 2013 Lexus ES300h

  • Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
  • Acura TL
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Volvo S60

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2013 ES300h Standard Equipment

Braking and Handling

  • Four Wheel ABS

Climate Control

  • Front Air Conditioning

Convenience

  • Auto On Headlights
  • Cruise Control
  • Keyless Entry
  • Power Locks
  • Power Trunk/Liftgate
  • Power Windows
  • Trip Computer
  • Vehicle Information Center

Interior

  • Premium Interior Trim

Safety

  • Auto Day/Night Mirror
  • Brake Assist
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Driver Air Bag
  • Engine Immobilizer
  • Front Fog Lights
  • Front Wipers, Variable Intermittent
  • Heated Outside Mirrors
  • Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors
  • Passenger Air Bag
  • Rear Side Airbag
  • Stability Control
  • Theft Deterrent System
  • Traction Control

Seats

  • Leather Seats

Sound and Entertainment

  • Compact Disc MP3 Capable
  • iPod Connector
  • Satellite Radio

Technology

  • Blue Tooth Compatible
  • Homelink Universal Transmitter

Tires and Wheels

  • Alloy Wheels
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