Lexus adds hybrid to ES lineup for 2013
By AL VINIKOUR For Sun-Times Media January 9, 2013 1:15PM
LEXUS ES 300H
ENGINE: 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with electric motor for 200 horsepower combined
TRANSMISSION: continuously variable transmission
DRIVETRAIN: front-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 40 city/39 highway
BASE PRICE: $38,850 (estimate)
AS TESTED: not available
Updated: January 10, 2013 3:07PM
Lexus introduced its ES luxury sedan in 1989 and six generations later it will offer the popular midsize sedan as both a gasoline and a hybrid variant. The first five generations of the ES shared the Camry platform; until the introduction of the RX it was the brand’s only front-wheel-drive vehicle.
For 2013 the new ES enters the market with all guns blazing. The ES always has been considered “the affordable Lexus” and the 2013 model adds to that assumption.
Beginning with the exterior, the new ES features a lower profile and clean styling lines from front to rear. All four corners are pulled tightly inward to the wheel arches, creating distinctive proportions. It also has a longer wheelbase (1.8 inches more) and overall length has grown by 1 inch. This seemingly insignificant increase results in a more spacious interior.
The 2013 ES sports a new distinctive spindle grille called “the new face of Lexus.” The hybrid model is easily identified by the unique blue badging of the L logo, an exclusive rear design with hidden exhaust, an integrated rear spoiler, LED daytime running lights and combination rear lamps. Fog lamps are integrated into the sculpted lower front bumper fascia.
The ES 300h sits exclusively on 17-inch alloy wheels and has quite the handsome stance. During our test drive we were given the eye by previous-model ES owners — guess you might call this “ES envy.” The vehicle is about as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. Road noise is practically nonexistent, as is engine noise.
The 2013 hybrid is powered by the Lexus Hybrid Drive, a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine that runs on regular unleaded (87 octane) fuel that’s paired with an electric motor. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy is expected to be 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined. It generates a total of 200 horsepower.
It is mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. Some manufacturers’ CVT offerings are questionable; Lexus’ is an in-your-face example of what a good CVT should be. It doesn’t sound like it is whining/winding itself to death. A good CVT doesn’t make you realize you’re driving a CVT.
The 2013 ES has a noticeably better ride than its predecessors thanks to a stiffer body and quicker steering gear ratio. The front suspension uses opposite-wound coil springs to help enhance straight-line stability, and revised rear suspension and improved shock absorber damping enhance ride comfort.
The new ES features enhanced NuLuxe seating surfaces that reduce environmental impact. Genuine leather is available, as is semi-aniline leather for a more refined look. The interior features improved sightlines and visibility, user-friendly controls, new cabin materials and an open feeling. There is greater rear-seat legroom and knee room, rear headroom and additional foot room below the front seats. A new 10-way adjustable power seat is standard on all ES models, and an available 12-way power seat allows more support.
The second-generation remote-touch interface allows users to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, optional navigation system and more. Screen menus are selected with a controller located on the center console. The interface reduces eye and hand movement that helps decrease effort and distraction.
The ES features 10 standard airbags, front seats that lessen whiplash injury, an available pre-collision system and much more. Furthermore, all new Lexus vehicles come with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles. Powertrain and restraint systems coverage is 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months regardless of mileage. Hybrid-related components — including the HV battery, battery-control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter — are covered for eight years/100,000 miles.
There are a slew of optional packages, and price being no object I’d include them all. The vehicle won’t be on sale until about mid-August, so if you’re in the demographics for the 2013 Lexus ES 300h, start working on getting ready for one.
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