The New Lexus on the Road


It has been five generations of ES sedans since its unveiling back in 1989, with over a million still being driven on the roads. Now, the newest Lexus ES, the ES 300h now has a hybrid powertrain and was recently unveiled at the New York Auto Show last April.

The first orders of the vehicle would be accepted starting August 2012.

The Lexus 300h has an EPA combined fuel economy rating of forty miles per gallon, with a seamless delivery of 200 horsepower from the four cylinder Atkinson engine. It is a dual overhead cam 16 valve with variable valve timing with intelligence or VVT-i. It further has an electronically controlled sequential fuel injection (SFI) for its front wheel drive engine with electronically controlled continuously variable transmission.

The frame is a unitized steel body with front MacPherson strut-type independent suspension and rear dual link MacPherson strut-type independent suspension. Furthermore, it has a four wheel power assisted disc brake system with ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Traction Control, and Vehicle Stability Control. The vehicle can accelerate between zero to sixty mph in 8.1 seconds with a top speed of 112 mph.

The price would be unveiled just before its release date and is viewed as the top reason for the acceptance or rejection of the model. According to Brian A. Smith, Vice President of Marketing for Lexus, “The premium levied on the buyers of the hybrid, versus the non-hybrid ES 350 would be the lowest in our line up.”

There are subtle differences between the ES 350 and its hybrid counterpart. These include a rear spoiler on the down low and exhaust pipes hidden differentiate the hybrid version. The 300h has a drag coefficient of 0.27 and is designed to have a thrusting prow and deeply embedded fog lights between two tiered “spindle grilles” that makes the Lexus different from other models.

For the interiors, there is squared and angular look reminiscent of 1980’s interiors, a disappointing look for the luxury brand. What is original though is the use of optional bamboo wood accents which works best with the environmental sustainability view of the hybrid. This vehicle has been certified in California as a super ultra low emissions vehicle.

For passenger space, the front and rear accommodations are comfortable, but hybrids lose three cubic feet of trunk space because of the 1.6 kilowatt hour nickel metal hydride battery pack.

The car has a dash mounted selector to change from throttle to steering response while in Sport mode. The selector also changes to hybrid power according to the tachometer response, with the Eco mode emphasizing fuel economy while the EV mode allows for a maximum distance of 1.5 miles, when running under 25 mph.

The 2013 ES model has a standard seven inch display screen with its known Display Zone, with an analog clock and other Lexus only accents and styling. The lower half of the dashboard is the Operations Zone, where the HVAC system and its Enform infotainment system, with the three modes and the push button EV mode.