Road Trip: 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Vancouver to Kelowna  travel car test drives luxury cars lexus hybrids
Road Trip: 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Vancouver to Kelowna  travel car test drives luxury cars lexus hybrids
Road Trip: 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Vancouver to Kelowna  travel car test drives luxury cars lexus hybrids
2013 Lexus ES300h, Vancouver to Kelowna. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

How about this: 6.1 L/100 km. That was my average fuel consumption after driving almost 800 km from Vancouver to Kelowna and back in the new Lexus ES300h (hybrid) sedan.  Given that the ES300h is a fairly large mid-size sedan and that my average speed was over 100 km/h in a journey encompassing steep climbs through the Coast Mountain Range, the ES300h’s fuel consumption was commendably thrifty.

Unlike the ES350, which has a 268-hp V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, this hybrid version of the recently redesigned ES sedan is motivated by a 2.5L four-cylinder engine connected to a continuously variable transmission, electric motor/generator and a 1.6 kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack positioned behind the rear seats.  The ES300h’s combined engine/electric motor horsepower is 200; Lexus hasn’t revealed the torque figures, but it’s probably similar to the Camry Hybrid’s 199 lb-ft from 0 to 1,500 rpm.  Selectable Normal, Eco and Sport modes allow the driver to vary the level of performance and fuel economy as they wish, and an EV button permits electric only driving for up to two km at speeds under 40 km/h.  I chose to leave the car in Eco mode for the entire trip to maximize fuel economy; Eco mode moderates throttle response when accelerating and minimizes air conditioning, but I never felt the car lacked sufficient performance or cold air during the trip.  By choosing Sport mode, there is a noticeable increase in off-the-line and mid-range acceleration, but to me, it seems rather pointless in a hybrid luxury sedan where the main objective is to maximize fuel economy.

Though our mostly highway fuel economy of 6.1 L/100 km was very good, it doesn’t live up to Natural Resources Canada’s estimated highway fuel economy of 5.1. But it is pretty close to the American EPA’s highway estimate of 6.0 L/100 km (39 mpg) leading me to believe that, once again, the NRCan’s estimate doesn’t represent real-world driving.

Road Trip: 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Vancouver to Kelowna  travel car test drives luxury cars lexus hybrids
Road Trip: 2013 Lexus ES 300h, Vancouver to Kelowna  travel car test drives luxury cars lexus hybrids
2013 Lexus ES300h, Vancouver to Kelowna. Click image to enlarge

By the way, the Lexus ES300h’s EPA fuel economy of 5.9 L/100 km city and 6.0 highway handily beats most of its major luxury competitors, the BMW ActiveHybrid5 (10.2/7.8), Infiniti M35h (8.7/7.4), Mercedes-Benz E 400 hybrid (9.8/7.8), and Buick LaCrosse eAssist (9.4/6.5) – the exception is the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid (5.2/5.2).

Just for the record, the 2013 Lexus ES350 is rated at 11.2/7.6 by the EPA (21/31 mpg).

Our weekend trip began in Vancouver, Canada’s third-largest city and notable for its lack of freeways.  Even the mention of the word “freeway” here elicits foaming at the mouth by Vancouver’s planet-saving urbanites.  As a result, suburban commuters, who can’t afford Vancouver’s stratospheric home prices, must navigate city streets to get in and out of the city, contributing to traffic congestion, testy road rage exchanges, and increased pollution.  Vancouver’s car-hating city government would rather that everybody just left their cars at home and took the bus, Skytrain, or a bicycle – however impractical that may be.  Welcome to the left coast.

Once we escaped Vancouver and reached Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway, we immediately ran into the ongoing highway reconstruction project.  The four-lane Trans-Canada freeway should have been widened 25 years ago, but it took decades of gridlock to convince the BC provincial government to push through the improvements, despite opposition from core Vancouverites. Hopefully it will be finished by this winter when Vancouver’s dark, damp and miserable weather conditions contribute to further traffic chaos.




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).