2013 Lexus ES 350/ES 300h
• Type. Four-door, front-wheel-drive midsize entry-luxury sedan.
• Engines (hp): 3.5-litre DOHC V6 (268); 2.5-litre DOHC 4 with electric motor (200, net).
• Mileage: L/100 km (city/hwy) 10.7/7.0 (3.5).
• Base Price: $44,000 (est.)
More style and substance are features the 2013 Lexus ES 350 can brag about. However the Toyota-Camry-based sedan can now include superlative fuel economy to its bag of tricks in the form of the gasoline-electric ES 300h hybrid.
The ES has always enjoyed a sterling reputation with Lexus buyers as the fleet’s go-to entry-luxury model, even though the sportier IS series is less expensive. But in this league, size counts for plenty and the longer, wider and roomier ES beats the pants off the IS in the space race.
For 2013, interior volume has been slightly increased due to the addition of about five centimetres between the front and rear wheels. That adjustment makes the ES more livable, especially for rear-seat riders, but it’s the car’s outward appearance that’s bound to make it a lot more likeable. Lexus’s new character-building corporate face features a prominent lower air intake that first appeared on the GS sedan, along with restyled headlights and shapelier hood. It’s a look that will show up on the rest of the fleet in due course.
In addition, the backside has been reworked to give the sedan a bit more bustle. The physical adjustments add considerable sparkle to what had been a design that for years was unnecessarily understated.
With its luxurious cabin environment, stress-free engine performance and trouble-free reliability, the ES should continue to garner serious consideration from entry-luxury shoppers. Dial in an invigorated redesign plus a fuel-sipper option and more folks than ever will likely vote y-ES.
The ES 350’s powertrain is straightforward, consisting of a 268-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 accompanied by a six-speed automatic transmission that carries over virtually unchanged from the 2012 edition.
But, for 2013 it doesn’t end there. A new ES 300h hybrid features a 156-horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder gas engine that combines with a 141-horsepower electric motor to generate 200 net horsepower. Both function through a continuously variable transmission.
The hybrid borrows its powertrain from the Toyota Camry hybrid and represents a natural extension of the ES brand, especially since the recent demise of the Toyota-Prius-based HS 250h.
Other than the primary tach and speedometer gauges, the dashboard’s control centre is a busy spot, with numerous minute knobs and buttons handling ventilation, audio and communications tasks.
Fortunately, the console-mounted Remote Touch Interface can manipulate much of these systems in a relatively uncomplicated manner.
Being in the luxury realm, the ES 350 starts out with considerable standard equipment including power moonroof, 10-way adjustable power front seats, backup monitor, push-button start and an eight-speaker audio system. There’s also a Drive Mode selector with Normal, Eco, or Sport settings for the powertrain and steering system.