The Lexus ES 300 has been a top seller for three decades, and last year’s seventh generation added a new hybrid trim along with a design upgrade. The 2020 ES 300h hybrid adds no substantial changes other than minor design and tech tweaks to a sedan already popular for its luxury-to-value sweet spot. Added tech this year includes Android Auto connectivity as well as Waze. Lexus’ Remote Touch infotainment interface and driving dynamics can still use a bit of improvement, however, placing this top performer just shy of our Editors’ Choice list.
Features, Pricing, and Design
The ES 300h sedan comes in three trims: Base, Luxury, and Ultra-luxury. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine coupled with a 29.1kW nickel-metal hydride battery is paired to an electric hybrid motor driving the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. A second hybrid motor recharges the battery pack, as does the regenerative braking system.Generating 215 total horsepower and 153lb-ft of torque, the ES 300h delivers an EPA-estimated 44 miles per gallon combined and almost 600 miles of range.
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Starting at $41,810, the Base trim comes with push-button start/stop, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, a power panoramic moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, perforated faux-leather interior trim, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, and Normal, Eco, Sport, and EV drive modes. Exterior features include 17-inch wheels, bi-LED headlamps, LED taillamps, daytime running lights, and a backup camera.
Lexus now provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to access apps from your phone, and new for 2020, Waze can be accessed for directions and real-time traffic alerts. Also embedded in the Lexus system are HD Radio, SiriusXM, Lexus Enform Remote with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility for three years, and 4GB of Wi-Fi for three months. Standard tech consists of an audio system with 10 speakers and an 8-inch color display.
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Lexus’ Safety System+ 2.0 provides pre-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with lane-centering, lane-departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams, and road sign assist. Enform Safety Connect offers 24-hour access to a live agent for three years, as well as Enform’s Service Connect for 10 years that provides remote access to the vehicle’s status and maintenance reminders through the Lexus Enform Remote app or online.
The Luxury trim starts at $44,665 and embellishes the standard features with upgrades such as rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, a 14-way power-adjustable driver seat, driver seat memory, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, perforated-leather interior trim, wood interior trim with ambient lighting, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Starting at $43,750, the Ultra-luxury trim adds an upgraded suspension, enhanced quality leather, and a hands-free trunk release.
Our Lexus 300h Base model tester tacked on a $1,375 Premium Package option that includes heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, driver seat memory, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and power-folding mirrors, which are all standard on the Luxury trim. It also included a long list of additional options: blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and parking assist ($1,065), a wireless smartphone charger ($75), 18-inch alloy wheels ($770), a 10.2-inch heads up display ($500), triple-beam LED headlights ($1,515), a power rear sunshade ($210), hands-free trunk release ($550), a heated and leather-trimmed steering wheel ($480), wood trim with accent lighting ($540), illuminated door sills ($400), a trunk and cargo net ($365), and all-weather floor liners with a trunk tray ($280).
The Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package ($2,900) adds a 12.3-inch monitor and navigation with voice command, Lexus Enform Destination assist for three years, and a 17-speaker surround-sound audio system. Accounting for the add-ons and the delivery fee of $1,025, the final sticker price for our test vehicle jumped to $53,810.
The 350h body features a long, wide stance and sleek lines. The panoramic glass roof adds natural light and elegance. We find the driver mode knob protruding from the right side of the dashboard above the steering wheel to be an aesthetic eyesore, interrupting the otherwise sleek asymmetrical lines across the dashboard, and also difficult to reach compared with most center console controls.
Interface and Connectivity
The Remote Touchpad with handwriting capability designed to mimic smartphone controls sounds better on paper than in practice. The interface requires the driver to align a glowing orange cursor on the screen with your finger placement on a matte black pad on the center console, and it simply isn't easy to use.
Fortunately, you can access sub menus with multiple options. We also appreciate the 12.3-inch display that’s part of the Premium Audio Package (but wish it came with a touch screen like the RX 450h), and the Mark Levinson surround sound system is acoustically stellar and well-appointed within the library-silent interior. The embedded navigation system leverages Enform’s capability to provide over-the-air software updates.
A tray in the center console provides charging for compatible smartphones. If you don’t want to dish out the dollars for this convenience, there are two USB ports on the front console adjacent to a handy phone slot that keeps the cup holders available. We expected Lexus to design higher-quality port covers; the flimsy rubber cap that fits over the ports immediately became unhinged.
Lexus Enform Remote provides features such as engine starting, climate control access, door locking/unlocking, fuel level and window status, and more while away from the car. The Lexus Enform Remote app also locates the vehicle on a map, and if another driver uses the car, you can receive instant alerts if, for example, a preset speed or mile limit is exceeded.
Several performance-oriented midsize luxury hybrids sedans are available—just not yet from Lexus. The aerodynamic lines and stiff platform of the ES suggest a dynamic ride, but it doesn’t quite add up in the 300h.
Cribbed from its flagship LS platform with an elongated version for the ES, the suspension provides that signature Lexus cloud-like ride. But while it delivers smoothness, the 300h isn't very sporty, with competitors such as the BMW 500e Xdrive PHEV outperforming it when it comes to acceleration and handling. There is also little difference between the drive modes, with the exception of Sport, which added some quickness.
The EV mode enables you to crawl along for short distances on battery power alone. The hybrid system performed efficiently, with seamless regenerative braking.Driver assist features are plentiful on the Base trim, and easily accessed on the steering wheel or within the instrument panel display, where you can adjust the level of warning sensitivity. The 10.2-inch heads-up display is worth the investment, with a projection of helpful info on the driver’s windshield adjustable to their sight line.
While the ES 300h isn’t available with a folding rear seat, the 1.6-kWh battery pack below the rear floor allows for a roomy, comfortable ride for rear passengers and doesn’t impinge upon trunk room, providing 17 cubic feet of cargo space, outsizing rivals such as the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid with 11 cubic feet and the Toyota Avalon Hybrid with 16 cubic feet.
ES stands for Elegant Sedan, and Lexus’ second-gen ES 300h hybrid lives up to this standard. Luxurious interior materials and smart touches create a plush environment that provides a lavish ride for the budget-conscious luxury buyer, while rear seat passengers get plenty of space and the trunk room outsizes the competition. Better acceleration can be found in competitors, but the silent and smooth ride of the 300h, along with unmatched fuel efficiency, make it worth a serious look.
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The Lexus ES 300h is a luxury hybrid sedan that has earned a reputation for its whisper-quiet ride and comfort- its refined design and advanced technology making it a solid choice for those seeking an eco-friendly vehicle with plenty of luxury.Is the ES300h a good ride quality? ›
For a midsize sedan, the ES300 h is easily maneuverable and the steering has some feel so together with very smooth acceleration, it's a very pleasant drive. The new suspension has removed the floatiness of the old car and the ride quality is impeccable despite wearing 19-inch rims.What are the best years for ES300h? ›
The 2019 Lexus ES 300h is our top pick for the best model year value for the ES 300h. With the 2019, you would only pay, on average, 67% of the price as new, with 75% of the vehicle's useful life remaining. The 2022 and 2018 model years are also attractive years for the ES 300h, and provide a relatively good value.How long does ES 300h last? ›
How long do 2021 Lexus ES 300h batteries last? 2021 Lexus ES 300h batteries usually last between 3-5 years, but this is variable depending on weather conditions, driving habits, the type of battery, and more.