A bevy of 2013 Lexus ES 350 and ES 300h models were made availble in Dallas ©DRB

Picking your Lexus from two new 2013 ES models


Occasionally as auto writers, we have the opportunity to drive both traditional internal combustion engine and hybrid electric variants of the same model, allowing a comparison of the virtues and vices of either mode as it applies to driver’s needs.

One such opportunity occurred recently during the media introductions of the sixth generation of the gas-powered 2013 Lexus ES 350 and the initial debut of the hybrid variant, the 2013 Lexus ES 300h.

Interestingly, in the case of the entry-level luxury sedan, the gas and hybrid versions are equivalent in many aspects, so the subtleties that distinguish them are clues to which best suits your values and lifestyle.

Personal values
Much of the choice between a gas and hybrid version of the same model will spring from the potential owner’s view of global warming as a reality, the value placed on reducing imports of foreign oil and to what degree they feel a need to contribute to a more sustainable world. However, this is not what the entire decision process should be based on as there is much more to consider.

You might pick the Lexus ES 350 out of brand loyalty as there are already one million ES models on the road from the five previous generations. Or, if you place a heightened value on trunk storage capacity, the gas model has 3 cubic feet more room for your luggage or gear. If fuel economy is important, you’ll certainly want the hybrid, but if sheer power is what you value then the Lexus ES 350 would again be your choice.

Driving modes and lifestyle
The hybrid Lexus ES 300h is ideal for the medium to long commute from the ex-burbs or suburbs in or out of the city daily to a driver who still wants a luxurious ride. Those with shorter commutes may prefer the gasoline model as efficiency is not necessarily as much of an issue, without denying themselves a finely appointed vehicle.

Whether your tastes run to the ES 300h’s Nuluxe and Bamboo or the ES 350’s Leather and Birdseye Maple textures and veneers will push your decision one way or the other.

If you tend to put less than 10,000 miles annually on your car the gas model may do just fine, but if you tend to go over that mark, the hybrid will save you lots of money at 39-mpg combined compared to the gas model’s 24-mpg combined.

Ten thousand miles at 24-mpg takes 417.67 gallons of gas, and would cost $1,458.33 (at the arbitrary rate of $3.50 per gallon).

The same 10K miles would take only 256.41 gallons in the hybrid, resulting in a fuel cost of $897.43. That’s a savings of $560.90 and it only goes up if you drive 15,000 miles per year.

Those that say it takes five to seven years to get your money back on the extra cost of a hybrid are overlooking possible fluctuations in the price of gas and the retained value at trade-in time.

Performance
The performance and handling of the both the Lexus ES350 and ES 300 are fairly equivalent, with only about one second between the pair’s zero to 60 times. The gasoline-powered ES 350 takes that slight lead. Other than that, the way they corner, accelerate and come to a stop is very similar indeed.

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