Review: 2013 Lexus ES 300h – To Hybrid or Not To Hybrid

2013 lexus es 300h front grill hybrid
2013 Lexus ES 300h

The 2013 Lexus ES 300h is a part of the freshly redesigned Lexus 2013 model year lineup, which also includes the GS and the LS. The ES has a long lineage that dates back to 1992 and it’s also the second best selling Lexus vehicle (behind the RX crossover). This year it defends its position with refreshed style and a new Hybrid option. So, how does the new ES 300h model compares to the traditional ES 350? Is the Hybrid worth the $3,000 premium? Lets break down the details and find out.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Lexus ES 300h $39,250 $47,944 200/
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 40/39 Combined 40 Combined 38.9

First Impressions

The new ES sedan lineup looks long and sleek from the outside and the styling has more emotion. A definite improvement over the 2012 model. Getting on the inside, one thing is instantly clear – this is a large and comfortable sedan. I could slide the driver seat all the way back and still have more than enough room for the rear passengers.


The 2013 Lexus ES wears the now commonplace Lexus spindle grill and the underlining LED front driving lights. If you are looking the ES from a far, you might initially confuse it with the 2013 GS. However, if you look closer and notice the larger and longer profile, then you will know that this is the ES.

2013 lexus es 300h hybrid interior dash

On the inside, Lexus stepped up the interior quality and design on all refreshed models. If you have seen the 2013 GS or the RX interiors, you will feel right at home in the ES and vise versa. One of the main reason’s why the ES feels and is so roomy on the inside is because of the virtually flat floor in the rear. The ES is front wheel drive and there is no space robbing “hump” back there. My test car also had a full length panoramic sunroof, which was a hit with the kids. The child seats were easy to install and plenty of room throughout.

The only disadvantage for the 300h Hybrid is that its trunk space is three cu-ft smaller than on the 350. It’s visibly smaller, but 12.1 cu-ft is still cavernous enough for most family sedan tasks. Sorry, I did not perform the golf bag fitment test.


This is where we are getting to the root of the debate. To Hybrid or not to Hybrid? I was fortunate to drive the 2013 ES 350 and 300h back to back. The 350 uses the powerful and smooth 3.5 liter V6 rated at 268 hp and nearly extinct 6-speed automatic. I drove around 60 miles in the ES 350 and averaged impressive 26.4 MPG in mixed driving. I was not hyper-miling and gave it the beans a few times, and was impressed how efficient this big V6 sedan was.

2013 lexus es 300h hybrid engine motor

Now, I spent a week with the ES 300h and put nearly 300 miles on it. The 300h uses the same Hybrid system you can find in the Camry Hybrid and the Avalon Hybrid. It’s the 2.5 liter four cylinder Atkinson cycle engine coupled with an electric motor for a combined 200 hp. In the end, I averaged 38.9 MPG on my standard driving routes (same as I did with the ES 350). It’s nearly 50% better average than the V6! It’s a huge leap and a home run in my opinion.

Lexus says that the 300h is one second slower 0-60mph at 8.1 seconds. OK, but the electric motor gives you get a little more initial low end grunt. And I doubt many Lexus ES buyers purchase the car for stop light drag racers.


Any ES model, be it Hybrid or not, has Lexus characteristic quiet ride. The suspension is tuned for comfort, but it’s not an air suspension – so don’t expect to be riding on a cloud. The ES has noticeable lean in corners. After all, it is a large and luxurious sedan. I found that the comfortable and quiet demeanor of the ES calmed me down and encouraged a relaxed and smooth driving style. This is a definite boulevard cruiser, not a canyon carver.

2013 lexus es 300h rear profile


Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft Interior Volume Cu-Ft
2013 Lexus ES 300h $39,295 40/39 200/  112.2
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid $32,100 47/47  114.8
2014 Honda Accord Plug-In $39,780 47/46  196/ 111.8
2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid $37,250 40/39 200/ 116.3
2013 VW Passat TDI SEL $32,915 31/43 140/236 117.9

While the ES 300h does not have the best interior volume of this bunch, it has a spacious feel and one of the best legroom dimensions.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Lexus ES 300h a Buy It!

My test car stickered at $47,944 and had a lot of goodies, such as: Navigation system, Blind spot monitoring, Lane departure warning, Ultra luxury package, Panoramic sunroof, heated/cooled seats, and more. In my real-world testing, I got 50% better fuel economy out of the Hybrid (over the regular V6). It doesn’t matter how affluent you are, having an efficient vehicle is a huge bonus.

Please enjoy this fun TFLcar Mashup video:

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.