Fast Take: The Lexus ES 300h: A Hybrid That Doesn’t Drive Like One

2013 Lexus ES 300h

The Lexus ES 300h delivers the comfort of a luxury sedan with a gas-sipping hybrid engine that is more fun to drive than its purely gas powered cousins.

One of the biggest drawbacks to hybrids is that although they let you cruise past the pump, they generally do so with about as much excitement as a piece of dry, wheat toast. They don’t have a lot of power and when you try to coax some from them they often make a sound akin to a lawnmower about to explode. Not so with the 2013 Lexus ES 300h.

In fact, having already driven the 268 horsepower 2013 Lexus ES 350, I was completely surprised to find the 200 horsepower 300h a much more responsive car. This was counterintuitive on so many levels that I found myself double checking that, yes, this really was the less powerful hybrid that was so much fun to drive.

The 2013 Lexus ES 300h comes equipped with a 2.5 liter four cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and an electric motor to get you around town. Not only does it have less horsepower, it weighs about 161 pounds more than the ES 350 and does 0-60 mph in a not so impressive 7.6 seconds. Yet it doesn’t feel that way when you’re behind the wheel.

You can hear the engine working, but not with the cringe-inducing strain of so many hybrids. You also feel it, but in a good way, as the car doesn’t slowly decide to move forward but leaps ahead as soon as you give it some gas.

The 2013 Lexus ES 300h also has this nifty feature called Drive Mode Select. It’s just a little dial you can turn from Normal to either Sport or Eco mode. Honestly, Eco mode was torturous and made it feel every bit the hybrid, but turn that thing to Sport and you will absolutely forget that you’re driving a car that gets an EPA rated 40/39 mpg.

If you’re looking for the style, luxury, and incredibly smooth ride of a Lexus and want to save money at the pump and feel good about helping the environment, then the 2013 Lexus 300h is worth a look.

Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.