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Car Review: 2013 Lexus ES 300h Sedan

The all new 2013 Lexus ES 300h Sedan has the chance to lead Lexus into the future with amazing fuel efficiency and new styling. We had the opportunity drive this new offering from Lexus for a week and took away the following impressions.

EXTERIOR

The new ES features a lower, progressive profile and clean, continuous styling lines from front to rear. All four corners are pulled tightly inward to the wheel arches, creating distinctive proportions. The wheelbase of the new ES has been lengthened by 1.8 inches, while the overall length of the vehicle has grown by just one inch, resulting in a more spacious interior. The new ES unmistakably bears the new face of Lexus with its distinctive, spindle grille. The LED daytime running lights and combination rear lamps reflect the “L” design motif. The ES 300h hybrid features a distinctive rear design with hidden exhaust and an integrated spoiler. New exterior colors for the 2013 ES include Fire Agate Pearl and Silver Lining Metallic. Our test model was nebula gray pearl and the paint was as smooth as the sleek exterior. The auto on/off projector bulb headlamps with integrated LED fog lamps and daytime running lights stand out both during the day and in nighttime driving.

INTERIOR

The modern interior of the 2013 ES has been designed to provide a sense of openness and security. Sightlines and visibility are improved, controls are logically placed, and new cabin materials express a high level of craftsmanship. A newly sculptured seat enhances driver comfort. The steering wheel angle has been reduced from 24 degrees to 22 degrees for a more natural control position. Fluid-filled engine mounts, new sound absorbing materials and a tuned engine intake minimize the intrusion of outside noise.

Greater rear seat legroom and knee room are the hallmark of the redesigned, more spacious cabin. Knee room is increased by 2.8 inches and legroom is increased by 4.1 inches. The new design also offers additional foot room below the front seats. I was very impressed with the amount of room for the rear passengers and that is a major improvement over many competitors.

Available comfort and convenience features include manual door window shades, a power rear shade, and a one-touch power trunk closer. Optional ambient lighting, discretely placed under the wood trim, softly illuminates the surfaces of the instrument panel and all four doors. The new ES features enhanced NuLuxe seating surfaces, developed to reduce environmental impact. Genuine leather is also available, as is semi-aniline leather for an even more refined look and feel. Our heated seats and heated steering wheel warmed up in what seemed to be record time in some pretty cold weather. Interiors are available in Black, Light Gray and Parchment. Trim colors and materials include Piano Black, Espresso Bird’s-eye Maple and Bamboo.

Obviously designed with attention to ergonomics and driver focus, the cockpit features separate display and operation zones to help keep the driver’s eyes on the road. The instrument panel, with its long, layered look, places the main information display directly in the driver’s line of sight. Just below the center display is a self-illuminating LED analog clock. Controls are clustered beneath the information zone, on the steering wheel and on the center console.

The second-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) allows the user to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, optional navigation system and more. The screen menus are selected with a controller conveniently located on the center console. RTI reduces eye and hand movement, helping reduce effort and distraction. The new ES features the next-generation Lexus Enform system. Lexus Enform provides seamless connectivity with Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places through compatible smartphones. Apps are updated through over-the-air downloads, so new apps and content can be added as they become available. One-year trial subscriptions to Lexus Enform with Safety Connect and the Application Suite are included.

The standard Lexus Premium Sound System features eight speakers with Automatic Sound Levelizer, CD player, USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth and a SiriusXM receiver. The available Display Audio package adds a seven-inch screen, a backup camera, HD Radio with iTunes tagging, Bluetooth audio, phone transfer and a vehicle information display. The optional HDD Navigation System in our loaner included voice command and an integrated backup camera. The 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system features an eight-inch display screen, HD Radio with iTunes tagging, DVD audio/video and a SiriusXM receiver. Exclusive GreenEdge technology from Mark Levinson doubles the output of the amplifier, while reducing energy consumption by fifty percent.

PERFORMANCE

Don’t let the fact that the 2013 Lexus ES 300h Sedan is a hybrid, as this sedan can seriously move! Featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine, the ES 300h earned EPA fuel economy ratings of 40 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined. The ES 300h generates 200 total system horsepower.

The new, low friction engine utilizes a sophisticated power management system and high compression ratio (12.5:1) to increase overall efficiency. Equipped with an electric water pump, electric power steering and an integrated hybrid electric motor/generator, this engine does not require any accessory belts. The beltless design helps improve fuel economy and overall reliability. The ES 300h also features a Drive Mode selector. Normal mode provides a blend of performance and efficiency that is suited to everyday driving, while Eco mode favors fuel economy. Sport mode increases powertrain and steering responsiveness, and for the ES 300h, the IP changes from the hybrid power monitor to a tachometer. The ES 300h adds an EV mode which allows short distance drives, at reduced speed, using only the power from the hybrid battery pack. We spent the vast majority of our time in Sport because that’s just how we roll! Once in Sport mode, the 2013 Lexus ES 300h Sedan releases her inner sports car and takes off just like one.

OVERVIEW

In today’s luxury car market, buyers have so many needs, and we think the all new 2013 Lexus ES 300h Sedan can satisfy discerning shoppers. Design, efficiency and a price point as tested of $44,159 puts this Lexus in a sweet spot to sell like a lion. The evolution of the Lexus brand is clearly underway, and with combined 40mpg in a luxury experience with sleek looks, things will keep looking good for this brand.

  

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