Lexus vehicles are noted for their excellent build, superb comfort, smooth ride and exceptional quietness. The latter is what you’ll find and then some with the Lexus ES 300h Hybrid sedan.
The ES 300 is in its seventh generation that was initially introduced in 2019. But since then, the midsize sedan has undergone significant changes for 2023 including a redesigned center console, a 12.3-inch infotainment system with 4G Wi-Fi connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Voice Assistant for verbal commands starting with “Hey Lexus.”
ES 300 is offered in ES 250 AWD with 4-cylinder engine, ES 350 with V6 engine and ES 300h Hybrid that we tested and for the sports-oriented driver there’s the F Sport Design and Handling package that was on our test car.
ES 300h has a slick aerodynamic styling with its traditional bold grille and matching air ducts on either side of the grille. The back end sports a slight spoiler on the trunk lid and a smooth, rounded look.
The interior on the F Sport is sporty with two-tone leather front seats that are heated/cooled with just the right amount of side bolstering. A 12.3-inch touchscreen replaces the former and finicky touchpad that is now much easier to use. With it are a compliment of apps, navigation, audio, rearview camera, satellite radio and other functions and features.
Below it are large HVAC controls that are easy to view and use. Selections can be displayed on the touchscreen.
A short gear selector controls the electronic CVT transmission that is supplemented with paddle shifters. And below it on the console is an EV switch that uses battery only power for short distances, and it’s completely quiet. Sharing the console is a sizable wireless phone charger that can accommodate the larger cell phones.
Atop the instrument gauge are two turret-type rotary switches. One is for the traction control while the other is the mode selector for S/S Plus, Normal, Custom and Eco modes.
Instrumentation is a single multi-function digital gauge that does double duty as a speedometer and tachometer and serves as driver information display for mode selections and a myriad of other functions and alerts.
ES 300h’s back seat is sofa soft and comfy for two adults with generous leg and head room, or three youngsters as the transaxle hump has a low profile. The doors open wide for easy ingress/egress and there are assist handles over all four doors.
Back in the spacious trunk, that has a kick-sensor open feature, it’s rated at 13.9 cubic feet with 41.5 inches of cargo loading depth. The only drawback here is that the rear seatbacks don’t flip forward to increase trunk space. But there is a pass-through to carry long items like curtain rods or fishing poles.
As the hybrid battery pack resides under the back seats, the trunk has a hard foam divider with two shallow bins for small item storage.
ES 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder that produces 215 total system horsepower and 163 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of an impressive 43 city, 44-highway mpg. With the CVT transmission, Lexus says it can sprint from 0-60 in 8.1 seconds.
As for ride and handling, the ride is Lexus smooth and very quiet on Michelin 19-inch tires. Even with the engine powering the car, as it seems ES 300h is operating in stealth EV mode. The sports sedan parks easily with a tight 19.4 foot turning diameter.
In Sport and Sport Plus and Handling modes, the latter adds a sport tuned variable suspension along with higher rpms for extra zip and planted handling during spirited driving maneuvers. The F Sport package also has special trim including aluminum pedals, F Sport heated steering wheel, Mark Levinson premium audio, Head-Up Display and several more niceties.
Safety wise, ES 300h comes standard with Lexus Safety System 2.5 Pre-collision system w/pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert w/steering assist, blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert, intuitive parking assist Dynamic Cruise Control and more systems.
The ES 300h carried a base price of $48,435 before a long list of options including wheel locks, that took the bottom line to $54,045 with delivery.
The only way the ES 300h could be a finer sedan is if it were available with AWD for those of us here in the Snowbelt.
While SUVs have dominated the market, there are those who would still like to have the driving dynamics of a sports sedan. And the ES 300h can deliver as it goes beyond with its impressive fuel economy for a car of this caliber. Plus, it’s a Lexus and who knows hybrids better than Toyota, its parent company.