2020 Lexus ES 300h Sedan Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A good-looking practical investment
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Only 215hp? How can this luxurious sedan - which weighs a hefty 3770 lbs. – get out of its own way with a paltry power to weight ratio of 17.53lb/hp? The answer is: surprisingly well. The ES, which is an upmarket Lexus derivation of the Toyota Camry, focuses the limited output of its hybrid drivetrain on the operating range you most need around town. Immediate throttle response from starts and stops, and excellent low speed acceleration make the ES 300h as good, if not better than, its higher horsepower sibling, the 302hp V6 model. The reason the hybrid gets off the mark so well is the abundance of torque the electric motor supplies from a standing start. No need to rev up the gas powered 2.5 liter inline 4, because the electric motor is producing maximum torque the instant you floor the accelerator pedal. The happy dividend of the hybrid equation comes at the fuel pump, where the ES 300h records 43MPG in city driving and 44MPG on the highway. With a combined rating of 44MPG, your Lexus hybrid will save $5,000 over the course of five years of operation according to the EPA. To top off its efficiency chops, this hybrid also rates 9 out of 10 on the Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating scale.
The base price of the ES 300h is $41,760, most reasonable for entry into the vaunted Lexus family of fine automobiles. However, in order to differentiate the hybrid from a Toyota Camry, you will need to ante up an additional $10,475 for 13 separate options that will elevate the base version into a representative entry level Lexus. The most expensive of these additions is the $2,900 Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package. This grab bag of goodies includes a stellar 17 speaker surround sound audio system with 1800 watts of firepower. We particularly enjoyed the ability to replay the last song heard on SiriusXM over again. The Navigation component adds a 12.3-inch color multi-media display atop the dash, plus 3 years of Lexus Enform, a dynamic navigation assistant that responds to voice command. Lexus limits Dynamic Voice Command to “10 years of Ownership,” apparently concluding that either you or the car will expire before that deadline is reached.
The second most expensive option was $1,515 for triple beam LED headlights. At $1,375, the Premium Package provides all the extra touches you would expect from a Lexus to begin with, like heated and ventilated front seats, folding outside mirrors, tilt/telescope steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, and seat position memory switch. But really, should you have to pay $1,065 extra for a safety suite (Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking) that so many other makers consider part of their basic package today? We did appreciate the reasonable upcharge for the handsome 18-inch split 10-spoke alloy wheels ($770) which were shod on our test car with Bridgestone Turanza EL 440 radials (235/45R18) with a long-life wear rating of TW 480. You would have a hard time duplicating these alloys and tires for twice the price at your local tire retailer. And, yes, they worked quite well at keeping the ES 300h pinned to the apexes of the very winding road that leads to my house.
I have never been a fan of the spindle grill that Lexus appends to every single one of their vehicles, but on this particular model, finished in Atomic Silver, the spindle grill has finally found a welcome home. Along with the arched brows of the triple beam LED headlight receptacles and the incised character lines of the fog light nacelles, the chrome plated grill looks better than it does on any other Lexus. In fact, the understated lines of the ES 300h make this the best-looking Lexus available today. While it doesn’t have the exuberance or flair of the two door RC coupe, or the weighty authority of the LS sedan, the modestly priced ES 300h surpasses them all for pristine beauty.
In addition to its mileage virtues, moderate price and exceptional good looks, the ES 300h has one final feather in its cap. The Government 5-Star Safety Rating bestows its highest award on the ES with 5 stars for Driver Side Frontal Crash, Front and Rear Seat Side Crash, and Overall Vehicle Score. While the ES 300 is not the fastest four door sedan you can buy today, it is one of the most practical investments you can make in long term ownership. Who knows, you might just keep your Lexus long enough to see that 10-year warranty on Dynamic Voice Command expire.
2020 LEXUS ES 300h SEDAN
ENGINE: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine plus Lexus Hybrid Drive
TORQUE: N/A FUEL CONSUMPTION: 43MPG City/44MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $53,530
HYPES: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Standard
GRIPES: Touchpad Interface for Infotainment Fussy
STAR RATING: 8 Stars out of 10