2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Exemplifying Toyota/Lexus Product Excellence
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Ever since Lexus introduced their first model in North America in 1989 (the market- changing LS 400 sedan), competing luxury vehicle manufacturers have been trying to copy the key to the Japanese brand's success. But like a US Postal Service "Do Not Duplicate" key, Lexus's secret recipe defies copying . Having driven and evaluated Lexus products continuously since that first LS 400, I would offer this evaluation of the company's DNA: Their vehicles are instantly identifiable by attention to fit and finish above all. Next in order of importance come silken performance, refined driving feel and exceptional sound systems. These hidden mechanical virtues reinforce the brand's initial impression of superior quality construction. The 2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport we recently tested deviates not a bit from the formula for success the company invented 33 years ago.
Swing open the sparkling Iridium (Premium Paint: $500) door to the cockpit of the ES, and you are confronted with a visual Wow Factor that peaks the eye pop meter at 10. The pair of "10-Way F Sport Bolstered Front Heated and Ventilated Power Seats" are meticulously upholstered in alternating swaths of red and black leather. The high sided bolsters are charcoal, with red center sections. An hourglass shaped black racing stripe runs through the center line of each seat. The top of the black center console is done in contrasting red, as are the aft portions of all four door panels. A pair of commodious rear seats continue the color combo with red center cushions nested against black bolsters. For a passenger car that doesn't lay claim to sports sedan bragging rights, the strident interior of this Lexus will rev you up quicker than anything from BMW or Audi.
However exhilarating the appearance of the cabin, the question remains, "Does it work as well as it looks?" If there are better sports seats than the pair in this Lexus, I have yet to experience them. Their all-encompassing arc of lower back support sets a high watermark for seating comfort. Couple that locked-in load factor with the rest of the ES' silky controls and fat leather-wrapped steering wheel, and you've got all the basics for a real driver's car at a family sedan price.
When F Sport models were first introduced, Lexus focused on appearance items over performance gear. That is no longer the case. The following hardcore F Sport features were included on our car: F Sport Suspension Tuning, Performance Dampers Front and Rear, 19-inch Split 5-Spoke Alloy Wheels (19 x 8J), 235/40R19 Michelin Primacy MXM4 (M+S) tires, Hadon Aluminum Interior Trim, F Sport Moveable Meter, F Sport Exterior Styling, and a Rear Spoiler. Note that this suite of upgrades is not sold as a separately priced package, but rather as an integral part of the ES 300h F Sport model. Retail base price is $45,450. For 2023, that price will increase by $2,625 to $48,075. So if you want to beat the inflation spiral, look for a 2022 model like the one we drove.
Of course, another long-standing component of the Lexus formula is a long list of pricey extras itemized on the window sticker. In the case of our test car, the addenda amounted to $6,170, which elevated the bottom line to $51,620, with an out-the-door tariff of $52,695. All in all, though, you still get a lot of sport sedan for the money. The only legitimate complaint about sticker packing is the extra $500 for the "F Sport Heated Leather Steering Wheel" which should really have been included as part of the F Sport kit.
The hybrid drivetrain in this Lexus consists of a 2.5 liter inline 4 cylinder A24A-FXS gasoline engine plus an 88kW electric motor. The pair combine to produce 215hp. An electronically controlled CVT transmission distributes power to all four wheels. The ES 300h cuts a middling 0-60mph time of 8.3 seconds, but repays you for your acceleration patience with a superb economy rating of 44MPG in overall operation. This number earns it an 8 out of 10 on the EPA's Fuel Economy scale. Government estimates predict the ES 300h will "Save $2,500 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle."
Lexus builds their vehicles with a combination of finesse and panache that is hard to match. The thrifty, reasonably quick, handsomely appointed sedan we enjoyed for a week did nothing but reinforce our impression that this company consistently makes the best manufactured product you can buy today.
2022 LEXUS ES 300h F SPORT
ENGINE: 2.5 liter in-line 4 cylinder gas motor plus permanent magnet synchronous motor
HORSEPOWER: 215HP (Combined)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 43MPG City/44MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $52,695
HYPES: Lap of Luxury
GRIPES: CVT and 215hp barely cut it
STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10