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2014 Lexus ES 300h: A fuel economy star in a luxury package

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Lexus ES 300h

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The Lexus ES 300h is a luxury hybrid sedan that was introduced in the last model year and has so far been very well received.

It's not hard to see why.

On the inside, five passengers can sit comfortably in a roomy space that is luxurious, but not overdone.

The car runs on a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine linked to electric motors and a high voltage battery pack, a combo that kicks out 200 horsepower and 156 pounds-feet of torque. The transmission is of the continuously variable automatic sort, with a front-wheel drivetrain.

Fuel economy is rated at a colossal 40 mpg city, 39 highway, which is terrific for a sedan of this size. In our week of combined city/highway driving, we averaged about 38 mpg, but it should be noted that we made a point of trying to drive in a bit of a "spirited" fashion. We wanted to see how it compared with the non-hybrid ES 350, from a driving perspective. The answer is quite nicely indeed.

But had we driven more, uh, hybrid-ish, we probably would have boosted our fuel econ numbers.

On the outside, the 300h looks almost exactly like its non-hybrid sibling, with the spindle grille, spoiler on the trunk lid and 17-inch standard alloy wheels (18 inchers are optional). A power moonroof and fog lights are among other standard features.

On the comfortable, clean interior we mentioned earlier, wood trim, heated steering wheel and power rear sun shade are among the available options.

It just feels pleasant to sit in this car, and you can't say that about every sedan on the market today.

As for technology, iPhone owners will appreciate the Siri Eyes Free Mode, which let you use voice controls to make a call, compose a text or email message, get directions, play music and more.

And for safety, the 300h packs 10 airbags, blind spot warning system and backup camera, among other features.

The ES 300h has a manufacturers' suggested retail price of $39,500, which is about a $3,000 premium over the non hybrid ES.

But if you're seeking outstanding fuel economy in an attractive luxury package, it's a great choice.

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