Lexus introduced the latest entrants in the ES sedan line during the 2012 New York International Auto Show. The Lexus presentation included the traditional ES 350 powered by a V6 engine and the ES 300h hybrid powered by the Lexus Hybrid Drive. These 2013 models offer contrasts between the traditionalist approaches to past Lexus vehicles and the relatively modest hybrid models in the automaker’s future. Eco-conscious drivers with disposable income might give the Lexus ES 300h quick glances but the luxury automaker must improve fuel economy significantly to reach a broader audience.
The ES 300h features a 2.5-liter gas engine as well as a beltless motor that increase fuel economy compared to other Lexus models. Lexus estimates that the ES 300h can reach a fuel economy rating of 40 miles per gallon based on road testing. The Lexus Hybrid Drive achieves lowered emissions by significantly reducing fuel evaporation and incorporating Variable Valve Timing. An advanced power management system allows the battery, motor and engine to function at peak efficiency.
Four driving modes allow ES 300h owners to customize their commuting experiences with each trip. Traditionalists can squeeze maximum power out of the drive system by activating the Sport mode. The default Normal mode balances power output from the engine and motor to combine fuel economy with power. Commuters concerned about fuel economy during long trips can activate the Eco mode with the touch of a button. Lexus highlighted the EV mode at the show, which allows a driver to travel on all-electric power across short distances at low speeds.
Lexus included new safety features like the Blind Spot Monitor and Pre-Collision System to keep hybrid owners safe during their commutes. The Blind Spot Monitor uses sensors to warn the driver about vehicles in the rear blind spots. The Pre-Collision System utilizes radar to map out hydrants, posts and other vehicles well ahead of potential collisions. The Available Lane Departure Alert works with the headlights to automatically dim high beams when oncoming traffic is detected. Lexus also provides a one-year subscription to Lexus Safety Connect with purchase. This service allows drivers to access roadside assistance, emergency services and local police through a dashboard interface.