2013 Lexus ES 300h Review

Pros & Cons

  • Very efficient hybrid powertrain
  • comfortable ride and composed handling
  • luxurious high-tech interior
  • generous rear legroom.
  • Price elevates quickly with options
  • love-it-or-hate-it electronics interface.
Other years
List Price Range
$14,397 - $18,049

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2013 Lexus ES 300h represents a win-win combination of Toyota's fuel-sipping hybrid technology with Lexus' best-selling and greatly improved sedan.

Vehicle overview

There have been five Lexus hybrids to date, but only the RX crossover has connected with car buyers in a significant way. The others were either not fuel-efficient enough or just didn't possess the premium look and feel expected from Lexus. With the new 2013 Lexus ES 300h, however, it certainly looks as if the brand has finally come up with another winning formula.

It starts with the 2013 Lexus ES, which represents a complete redesign. The new ES is a bit larger, and Lexus has overhauled the suspension and steering for improved car control, and revised the interior for more modern design and additional high-tech features. At the same time, the new ES maintains the model's reputation for reliability, solid construction and a supremely comfortable ride.

The ES 300h owns these same qualities as well, but that little "h" represents big differences under the hood. Unlike past Lexus hybrid sedans that used hybrid technology as a means to achieve greater performance while maintaining the fuel economy of a regular gasoline model, the 300h is a hybrid in the classic sense. In other words, it's all about fuel economy, which in this case means an EPA combined rating of 40 mpg. A Prius it's not, but that's 5 mpg better than the not-so-dearly departed Lexus HS 250h and basically even with the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Given the model's historically strong sales, the Lexus ES is obviously a car that has resonated with consumers. The addition of a hybrid model that actually does what people expect a hybrid to do -- sip fuel -- should only increase its appeal. However, this doesn't mean the 2013 Lexus ES 300h is the only show in town. The sleek, equally new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is similar in concept to the ES, but should be sharper to drive and is likely to match or slightly surpass its fuel economy. You may also want to consider a fully loaded Ford Fusion Hybrid or Toyota Camry Hybrid. However, Lexus is the brand people most likely associate with luxury hybrids, and the ES 300h is the first Lexus hybrid sedan that actually lives up to expectations.

2013 Lexus ES 300h models

The 2013 Lexus ES 300h is the hybrid version of the Lexus ES 350 luxury sedan, which is reviewed separately.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, LED running lights, a sunroof, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with two-way lumbar adjustment), "NuLuxe" premium vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The Display Audio package adds the Lexus Remote Touch electronics interface, a rearview camera, Bluetooth streaming audio and enhanced phone capabilities, a single-CD player, HD radio and iTunes tagging. The Navigation package includes all of the Display Audio items plus a navigation system, voice controls and the Enform suite of smartphone-connected apps. A 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system with DVD-audio capability can be added to the Navigation package.

There are several packages available on those cars already equipped with either the Display Audio or Navigation packages. The Premium package includes a power-adjustable steering wheel, driver memory functions and wood trim placed on the steering wheel, shifter and other interior surfaces. The Luxury package includes all the Premium items plus xenon headlamps, parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery and a power rear sunshade. Finally, the Ultra Luxury package includes both the Premium and Luxury package items, plus automatic wipers, a power-closing trunk, a 10-way power driver seat, a heated steering wheel, passenger seat memory functions, manual rear side sunshades and ambient lighting.

All of the Ultra Luxury package items (minus the extra driver seat adjustability and passenger seat memory) are available as stand-alone options. Others include a blind spot warning system that includes rear cross traffic alert, a lane departure warning system that includes automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control that includes a pre-collision system.

2013 Highlights

The ES 300h is the new hybrid version of the equally all-new 2013 Lexus ES.

Performance & mpg

The 2013 Lexus ES 300h features a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that together produce 200 horsepower. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) are standard. According to Lexus, the ES 300h will go from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which isn't quick for an entry-level luxury sedan but pretty good for a hybrid.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is an excellent 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined.


Every 2013 Lexus ES 300h comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Also included is Lexus Safety Connect with automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle location and an emergency assist button.

Optional equipment includes parking sensors, a lane-departure warning system and a blind-spot warning system that includes a rear cross-traffic alert system. The optional adaptive cruise control includes the pre-collision system, which primes the seatbelts and brakes when it senses an impending collision.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the ES the highest possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. The ES did receive the worst rating of "Poor" in the Institute's new small overlap front crash test, but few cars have been subjected to this test, and a majority received similarly poor ratings.


The 2013 Lexus ES 300h delivers a refined and serene driving experience that is bolstered by the quiet all-electric operation at lower speeds.

No one will ever deem the new ES sporty, but few people will expect it to be. Instead, its more precise steering response and feel is a welcome improvement that everyone should appreciate. There is indeed a Sport mode that further sharpens steering and throttle response, but the resulting driving experience feels like it would be a normal mode in many other cars. The actual "Normal" mode would be a comfort setting.

At highway speeds, the cabin remains remarkably silent and is largely devoid of wind or road noise. Bumps and ruts in the road are well absorbed, but don't expect complete isolation or the floating sensations many assume the ES is known for.


The 2013 Lexus ES's cabin presents a far more modern, stylish environment than that of past models. There's still wood trim available, but it's more subtly applied and looks more like the genuine article. The hybrid's bamboo is especially fetching. The analog clock in the center of the dash is a classy touch that breaks up the otherwise high-tech environment. Of course, the quality of materials depends on whether you opt for one of the luxury packages, but build quality is excellent in typical Lexus fashion.

The climate controls are still quite simple to use, but those for the audio system have become more complicated than past Lexus models due to the increased number of available media types. When you opt for the Display Audio or Navigation packages, you get the Lexus Remote Touch system, a mouselike device that controls a cursor on a large, centrally located screen. It does some things very well and others less so, and like every brand's electronics interface, we highly recommend trying it out on a test-drive to see if you could live with it every day.

There's little doubt that the ES cabin should be spacious enough for most drivers and passengers. The latest model is now closer to the full-size Avalon rather than the Camry, and as a result provides generous amounts of space, especially rear legroom. The trunk is merely average, with 15.2 cubic feet of space.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Unique model with some minor shortcomings
4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
My wife and I purchased this car 2 weeks ago and we have nearly 1000 miles on it already. We are generally very pleased with it. It has a ton of room in the front and rear seats. It is very quiet, the ride is excellent and the handling is capable. We anticipate the fuel mileage will be in the 40 range when we stop playing with it. Currently we are getting 36MPH in mixed driving. The controls are well thought out but the Lexus Enform and Navigation Tech is taking a little getting use to. I hope they will update the software with some better navigation of the menus. But the Tech is still very cool. The Hybrid system rocks! Changes from motor to battery with hardly a notice! Its a keeper.
First time hybrid owner
4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Up until now, hybrids looked like, well.....hybrids. Little bug like vehicles that got great mileage but that's where it stopped. This thing, this 300h, has the looks, reliability, fuel efficiency, comfort and luxury we've been waiting for. Being only $2,500.00 more than it's gas only brother, the ES350, Lexus did us a great favor. The extra dollars spent up front really gets made up in the great fuel economy in just a few years, versus 10-12 years with a lot of hybrids. As of today, 1/10/17, I have to say my ratings all hold true. Still a very reliable, enjoyable car to have. No issues whatsoever. As of today, 7/11/17, we still own the Lexus 300h and it has been trouble free and we have put very little into the car except to keep up with the maintenance schedule. If I were looking for a used car in the luxury category, I would really consider this car. 1/9/18: Still very satisfied with this car. No issues at all. The most trouble free car we have owned over the last 38 years. As far as buying a used 2013 Lexus 300h, I would do it in a heartbeat.
About what I expected
4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I've been driving this car for about three months now and I finally feel as if I'm qualified to write a review. I'm coming from a BMW 525i 2005 model. Overall it compares favorably. It's not as sporty as a BMW. Signature Lexus features such as mushy steering, floaty suspension and certain accents you know they got from a Toyota. I paid $47k out the door for the luxury option model with heated/cooled seats, parking assist, side sensors, smart cruise control, voice command, GPS, etc. About the mileage. I'm getting 37 on the city and 42 on the highway for about 39-40 combined. You need to learn how to drive this car for efficiency if you want the full hybrid mileage advantages.
Lexus surprises me again
4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I took delivery of this car recently for my wife. This is the third Lexus I have owned in the last 20 years. The car has attributes that aren't discussed in reviews. Example it emits an purposeful sound when driving slowly in EV mode to alert pedestrians to your presence. The stereo without the Mark Levinson upgrade is impressive especially with a whisper quiet interior. As to noise levels, Lexus has not insulated us from outside sounds but dialed them down somehow. I like the ratcheted head rests but the front drivers seat is the worst on trips I have ever had. I see no need for a gear shift yet one is there. Interior lighting is dynamic in that evidently it changes depending on what you are doing. I traded the car in early, the only time in my life I have done so because the front seats were miserable for my average build. I have never gotten such a terrible back ache from a drivers seat like this before. I do not know if it is because it is a hybrid that they reduced support in seats to save weight or not. Good news is when I traded it in it got top dollar.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat4 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover11.1%

More about the 2013 Lexus ES 300h
More About This Model

In a break with tradition, this Lexus ES doesn't have a V6 engine that runs as smoothly as an expensive drip coffeemaker. Instead, the 2013 Lexus ES 300 hybrid has a four-cylinder engine, a couple electric motors and a battery pack, and operates more like a Keurig brewer, only without the wasteful little plastic pods.

Lexus estimates that one in four ES customers now cares more about fuel economy than straight-line performance, and now the automaker is betting that those people are willing to pay extra for it. In this case, the 2013 Lexus ES 300h costs $2,750 more than the more powerful ES 350.

That's a lot of money to spend on a good cause. Thankfully, the Lexus ES 300h is more than just frugal on gas; it's still enjoyable to drive when you forget to care about mpg.

Is 40 MPG Good Enough?
Forty mpg is the EPA's combined rating for the ES 300h, which also earns 40 city and 39 highway mpg ratings. That combined number is what might talk you out of buying the 268-horsepower 2013 Lexus ES 350, which is rated at 24 mpg combined.

We hit 40.8 mpg without trying very hard on the Edmunds Testing Team's official fuel economy test loop. It's a 105-mile route that includes plenty of stop-and-go that exploits the advantages of series-parallel hybrids like this Lexus ES, which shuts off its gasoline engine early and often.

Our next 600 miles are mostly highway and we drive them like a typical Lexus ES owner. Accordingly, we're not aggressive or mean, but we stay with the flow of Southern California traffic and resist any urge to draft off 18-wheelers. We wrap up the week with a respectable 37.9 mpg average.

It's a solid number for a 3,700-pound sedan the size of the ES, but its competition has thrown off the curve for large hybrid sedans. The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is rated at 47 mpg combined, while the 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is sitting almost pretty at 45 combined. Getting 40 mpg in a midsize sedan doesn't seem so impressive anymore.

It's Not Slow
But there's a lot to be said for the way the 2013 Lexus ES 300h gathers speed in cutthroat freeway traffic. It's quiet, unstrained and almost quick.

The best part of its drivetrain is the strong 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine. The Atkinson-cycle engine has a narrow power band, but it still manages 156 hp at 5,700 rpm and 156 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm. With another 44 hp coming from the nickel-metal hydride battery pack via the electric drive motor, the hybrid ES gets a nice round 200-hp rating (just like the Camry Hybrid and Avalon Hybrid).

The only time we really hear the gas engine is when we're climbing a steady grade — the continuously variable transmission (CVT) has it slaving away at redline to maintain our 70-mph pace. Otherwise, this four-cylinder is hardly working, and we're barely aware of the CVT blending the two power sources. Of course, there's an Eco mode that slackens throttle response when you want to eke every last mpg and Sport mode for when you just don't care. We leave it in Eco and rarely go hungry in passing situations.

At our test track, the 2013 ES 300h arrives at 60 mph in 7.8 seconds (or 7.4 seconds with a foot of rollout as on a drag strip) and goes through the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 89.8 mph. This gives it a half-second advantage over the less powerful Fusion Hybrid, and it's nearly a second quicker than the smaller Lexus HS 250h that the ES replaces. It's also more than a second quicker than the Buick LaCrosse eAssist.

Most important, it's not drastically slower than the 2013 ES 350, which hits 60 in 6.5 seconds (6.2 with rollout) and passes through the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds at 98.0 mph.

Everybody Awake?
Back roads aren't for hybrids, but we're here on the Angeles Crest Highway and the guy in the AMG Benz isn't pulling away from us until the road gets straight. That's not to say the 2013 Lexus ES 300h moves like a sport sedan, but it has a more controlled ride than any ES before it.

Incredibly, the ES 300h actually feels like it wants to turn, an alien sensation in a car with Lexus ES badges. Its precise electric-assist steering provides a smooth and logical increase in effort as you turn the wheel.

Although the brake pedal is a little soft, the ES 300h stops reliably and you rarely sense the transitions between regenerative braking and conventional friction braking action. A 129-foot stop from 60 mph at the track isn't stellar, but 62.3 mph through the slalom isn't bad for a large sedan of any persuasion. Of course, the unusually sporty Fusion Hybrid hauled itself through our cones at 64.3 mph.

If there's a downside to the Lexus ES sedan's newfound interest in handling, it's ride comfort. When we drove the ES 300h earlier this year, our test car had Michelin Primacy MXM4 tires and rode fine on Oregon roads. This car has P215/55R17 Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 tires, and they don't offer as much compliance as we'd like over the bumps and expansion joints on Southern California freeways. At least the driver seat still has the cushiness you expect in a Lexus ES.

Who Wants Bamboo?
Although our ES 300h test car isn't as richly furnished as our long-term 2013 Lexus GS 350, materials quality is high for this class and everything is put together well.

The $1,370 Luxury package provides beautiful and sustainable bamboo trim, but then enlarges your environmental footprint by also adding leather upholstery. It's unclear if the cows that provided the leather were grass-fed.

Our car has the $2,625 Navigation package, which includes the Remote Touch interface, the computer-mouse-style controller that governs audio and nav functions. It feels clunky at first, but within a week, it gets more intuitive. We still like dial-type controllers, but Remote Touch gives you freer range to move the cursor around the screen.

Also part of this package is Lexus Enform, a catch-all term for the automaker's telematics system and smartphone apps suite. Pandora and Open Table are among the apps, and although integrating them into the car seems likes a good idea for commuters, in reality, it's kind of a hassle. Not only do you have to register for an account on a computer, the Enform app always has to be running on your phone and you can't call up playlists from any Pandora accounts you've previously opened without registering them on the Enform Web site.

In back, there's so much legroom no angry toddler has any hope of kicking your seat. However, tall adults will struggle to slide their feet under the front chairs, likely due to intrusion from the fan units for the optional ventilated seats. The battery pack also prevents you from folding the rear seat, but the 12.1-cubic-foot trunk (down 3 cubic feet from the ES 350) still has plenty of usable space for luggage.

Worth the Extra Money?
Maybe you've heard that we currently own a 1996 Lexus ES 300, which has been described as "simple transportation executed according to a very high standard of quality."

This 2013 Lexus ES 300h is a precision-built grandchild of that regal old ES. It's hard to call it simple, of course, as its hybrid drivetrain takes a pretty complicated path to achieve respectable acceleration. On the other hand, we've never gotten 40 mpg in our old ES 300, and there's no reason to think its previous owners did either.

Like its ancestor, the 2013 ES 300h is trying to be a luxury device — only this time there's a more obvious bent to environmental responsibility. And apart from its uncharacteristically firm ride, it succeeds at this mission.

However, in the small population of large front-wheel-drive hybrid sedans, the Lexus costs the most. A Fusion Hybrid equipped like our $46,084 Lexus would cost about $35K, while a LaCrosse eAssist comes in at around $37 grand. The revamped Lincoln MKZ Hybrid lands just under $44,000. So does the 2013 Avalon Hybrid, which shares its drivetrain and platform architecture with the ES 300h (their wheelbases are identical).

If you're looking for serious fuel efficiency in a full-size sedan package, the 2013 Lexus ES 300h isn't the cheapest source of piety per mile. However, if you're just as fanatical about your own comfort, you'll be hard-pressed to top the Lexus ES hybrid.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h Overview

The Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h is offered in the following submodels: ES 300h Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). The Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 70000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h?

Price comparisons for Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h trim styles:

  • The Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h Base is priced between $14,397 and$18,049 with odometer readings between 88462 and139062 miles.

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Which used 2013 Lexus ES 300hs are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2013 Lexus ES 300h for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2013 ES 300hs listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $14,397 and mileage as low as 88462 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Lexus ES 300h.

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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Lexus ES 300h?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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