Toyota made a vow to build every one of its vehicle lines in hybrid form, and it's adding another model to the growing hybrid list at this year's 2012 New York Auto Show with the introduction of the 2013 Lexus ES 300h.
The first Lexus ES hybrid seems to share much with the latest Toyota Camry Hybrid, although Lexus hasn't revealed all the details behind its gas-electric powertrain hybrid. It's confirmed that the ES 300h uses a 2.5-liter four running on the Atkinson cycle to generate EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of about 40 miles per gallon.
For reference, the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid's EPA numbers are 43 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, and 41 mpg combined (or 40 city, 39 highway, and 40 combined for the XLE version).
Lexus also says the ES 300h will offer adaptive driving modes selectable from Normal, Sport, Eco, and EV--the EV mode allowing for short, battery-only driving.
Other fuel-economy tweaks include 17-inch, lower-rolling-resistance tires--both the ES 300h and ES 350 run on them, though the ES 350 has an option for more performance-oriented 18-inch wheels and tires. The ES 300h also has the typical Lexus hybrid hidden exhaust tips, and a small decklid spoiler.
Both sedans are dressed in the latest Lexus design theme, boldly stamped with an hourglass-shaped grille and air inlet. It's made its way down from the LFA supercar, and looks at ease on the new ES, which could be the most handsome Lexus sedan in today's lineup.
It's grown thicker and more substantial-looking, but no heavier--in fact, Lexus says it's trimmed 90 pounds from the four-door, while growing it 1.8 inches in wheelbase, and while adding an inch to its overall length.
The increases go directly to boosting passenger knee room and to subtly improving other aspects of its design, like the driving position--the steering wheel's been lowered by 2 degrees, to a more natural position. Rear-seat foot room is better, and both versions have more sound deadening and stiffer body structures to further damp out unwanted noise and vibration.
As it has with the GS 450h sports sedan, Lexus specifies a higher grade of trim in the ES 300h. Bamboo trim is available, as is ambient lighting. The Remote Touch infotainment controller steers an optional navigation system, and also governs Enform, the Lexus mobile-app connectivity suite that enables Pandora, Facebook, and other apps for use on the go.
Standard audio includes satellite radio and USB connectivity as well as Bluetooth; upgrades add HD radio, audio streaming, a DVD audio/video player, and Mark Levinson speakers and amplifier.
Safety equipment on the ES sedans now includes options for blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, and automatic high-beam headlights to go with ten standard airbags.
We'll bring you more on the 2013 Lexus ES 300h as details surface--stay tuned for first drives later this year.