Attaining a combined 39-mpg rating, Lexus boasts tech innovations in its 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder engine like low-friction components, a variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) technology and a 12.5:1 compression ratio, the in-line four-cylinder combines with Lexus Hybrid Drive for a complete ES300h power output of 200 hp. A surprisingly low figure for an all-new midsize luxury sedan, the ES300h gets from 0-to-60 in an unimpressive 8.1 seconds.
GALLERY: 2013 Lexus ES300h
Focusing its attention on optimizing fuel efficiency, Lexus borrowed the same four driving modes that are available in the Toyota Prius will be adopted for the new ES: Normal, Sport, Eco and EV. In Normal mode, the Lexus blends performance and efficiency that is suitable for daily commutes. In Sport, the powertrain increases its responsiveness for a more spirited experience. Eco mode lets the car’s computer adjust for a more relaxed delivery that favors fuel economy and the EV mode allows for short distance drives utilizing only the hybrid battery pack.
In an effort to improve the notably dull driving experience associated to ES models, Lexus increased chassis rigidity and tweaked the suspension and steering for more precise and responsive handling. Opposite-wound coil springs on the front suspension enhance straight-line stability while the rear suspension geometry works to improve shock absorber damping to enhance ride comfort.
A reduction in the steering gear ratio also helps to deliver a more responsive and direct feel. Finally, despite presenting a slightly longer, roomier and more luxurious ES, the standard sedan should be lighter on its feet as it loses almost 90 pounds over the outgoing model.