in 2013 Upscale Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $36,145 - $36,145
Original MSRP: $39,250 - $39,250
MPG: 40 City / 39 Hwy

2013 Lexus ES Hybrid Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Test drivers write that the brand-new 2013 Lexus ES 300h offers a comfort-tuned ride and a fuel-efficient engine. However, some reviewers say that the ES 300h could use more passing power, and that it lacks the composed handling that similarly-priced sport sedans offer. The ES 300h has Normal, Eco, Sport and EV (electric) drive modes, and one reviewer writes that Sport mode gives the ES 300h enjoyable steering and throttle response. Another notes that transitions between gas and electric power are awkward in Eco mode.

  • "True, the four-cylinder gas engine in the ES 300h can't match the ES 350's six for silkiness, but it's respectable. Overall, the hybrid simply comes off as the more modern and engaging machine." -- Motor Trend 
  • "On the suburban roads and parkways where I drove the ES 300h, the car was responsive, especially when using the dash-mounted selector to dial in the more robust throttle and steering response of the Sport mode." -- The New York Times 
  • "Transitions between the hybrid's electric motor and gasoline engine are very smooth, except when in ‘eco’ mode, in which the throttle response feels muted and the powertrain nervous." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "In a world of sport sedans, the Lexus ES stands out, and not necessarily in a good way. While body motions are generally controlled on the highway, the car struggles when driven hard." -- MSN 

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Lexus ES 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor/generator, which produce 200 horsepower combined. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) routes power to the front wheels. The EPA reports that the ES 300h gets 40/39 mpg city/highway, which is considerably better than the BMW ActiveHybrid 3, but not as good as the redesigned Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Lexus says that the ES 300h’s EV drive mode allows it to travel short distance at low speeds on electric power alone.

Although it’s less powerful than the gas-only Lexus ES 350, many reviewers prefer the excellent fuel economy that the ES 300h provides. One reviewer also notes that the ES Hybrid’s electric motor delivers plenty of torque for low-speed city driving. Still, one auto writer says that the CVT is noisy, and that the ES 300h lacks the power expected from a luxury car.

  • "Though we might not have predicted as much going into this review, after driving both ES models back-to-back it's the hybrid ES 300h that comes off as the far more appealing car. It's not as quick as the V-6 -- the run to 60 mph takes a leisurely 7.6 seconds -- but in around-town driving its instant-torque electric motors and seamless CVT make it feel livelier (despite the hybrid weighing 161 pounds more than the ES 350)." -- Motor Trend 
  • "At full bore, the car hustles well enough, but it lacks the passing confidence deserving of a luxury badge, and the droning, here-it-comes CVT sounds anything but refined." -- Cars.com 
  • "The hybrid offers surprisingly willing power, even for passing at highway speeds, and it launches the car from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 8.1 seconds." -- MSN 
  • "With 200 horsepower on tap, the ES 300h isn't a slow car, but by no means is it quick, either." -- Left Lane News 

Handling and Braking

The Lexus ES 300h offers a ride that reviewers say prioritizes comfort over sport. In that regard, most test drivers agree that the ES 300h meets their expectations. However, one test driver says that the ES Hybrid doesn’t perform well in turns, noting that its handling is compromised by noticeable body roll and an unresponsive steering system.

  • "Bumps and ruts in the road are well absorbed, with barely a hint of their presence reaching the passengers." -- Edmunds 
  • "Steering felt nicely weighted, and though the ES 350 entered a corner with a touch more alacrity than the hybrid, the ES 300h did not feel noticeably heavier." -- The New York Times 
  • "The steering is light and slow, body roll is quite noticeable, and the tires howl like a dog baying at a passing ambulance when the car is pushed through a turn." -- MSN 
  • "The ES 300h rides like a comfortable luxury car should, with the improved suspension allowing for a reasonable amount of gusto in the bends." -- Left Lane News