The Lexus ES has always been the Toyota Camry’s stable mate in the luxury brand’s lineup, but for 2013 the mid-sized model gets separated further in both style and content. A brand new design inside and out will go on sale this summer.
News to us is that the ES will for the first time be available in a hybrid version. On the heels of Lexus canceling the HS 250h, the new 2013 Lexus ES 300h will offer the same 2.5 liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and hybrid drive system we recently tested in the 2012 Camry Hybrid.
An excellent choice for this size car, the powertrain is expected to deliver approximately 40 mpg combined city/highway according to Lexus. Similar to the Lexus CT 200h, the ES 300h will offer a four-mode selector which gives the driver the choice of Normal, Sport, Eco and EV.
EV mode allows short distance drives on batter power only at reduced speed. Normal mode provides a blend of both for most driving needs, while Eco mode favors fuel economy by slowing throttle response and increasing regenerative braking. Sport mode combined both the gas engine and electric motors for more power when needed as well as sharpening throttle response.
Remarkably, the new Lexus ES resembles the new rear-wheel-drive GS series sedan much more than the Camry it shares its platform with. There is the new Lexus face with its signature spindle grille and jeweled headlights. 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 modern interior of the 2013 ES has been designed to provide both 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.
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.
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 will feature 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. Interiors are available in Black, Light Gray, and Parchment. Trim colors and materials include Piano Black, Espresso Bird’s-eye Maple, and Bamboo.
Suspension and steering changes and a stiffer body deliver more precise handling. A reduction in the steering gear ratio delivers a more responsive and direct steering feel. Increased body rigidity is achieved through lightweight, high tensile strength steel, added bracing and additional spot welds.
And if you are worried about weight, despite its larger size the weight of the new ES is reduced by almost 90 pounds. The ES 300h will be equipped with standard 215/55R17 low rolling resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels too.
The ES 300h will feature a segment-leading 10 airbags as standard equipment, including driver and front passenger knee and front air bags, as well as front and rear seat-mounted side and curtain airbags. Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats are designed to limit excessive head movement in certain rear-end collisions helping to decrease the severity of whiplash-type injuries.
An available 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.
We will be testing the new Lexus ES 300h soon and will bring you a full driving report.