by John Tallodi
The Lexus ES Hybrid competes in the sparsely populated luxury hybrid sedan segment, offering the same level of luxury and safety items as the standard Lexus ES it adds superb fuel economy to the mix.
It comes with a comprehensive list of luxury and safety features and for 2018 continues largely unchanged.
The ES 300h offers the kind of well-built and well-appointed interior that you would expect from Lexus and the interior space is generous enough to fit five adults comfortably, something few rival hybrids can claim.
The ES range may be getting on now but the quality of the switchgear and layout of the cabin is still commendable, the seats are comfortable both front and rear.
Available trim upgrades can really elevate the luxury levels although the infotainment system retains the mouse-like controller that some shopper may find frustrating to use and it is generally inferior in usability compared to touchscreen systems.
Trunk space is curtailed compared to the standard Lexus ES thanks to the packaging of the batteries and there is no rear seat fold down facility so large items will be difficult to load.
Hybrids tend to offer a less sporty drive than their gasoline powered counterparts and the ES Hybrid falls into this category. What it does offer is a smooth and relaxed driving experience, something shoppers interested in a hybrid may prefer over a harder edge anyway.
The ES Hybrid still feels perfectly comfortable around a winding road too, although the controls lack any sense of real feedback and an overly sensitive braking feel do not encourage the driver to explore the limits of handling and grip.
Highway driving highlights an extremely quiet cabin unless the engine is being extended and well damped suspension absorbs rough road surfaces with ease however in general use the ride is firmer than you might expect.
Fitted with a 156 horsepower, 156 lb-ft of torque 2.5-liter inline-four gasoline engine and a 141 hp, 199 lb-ft electric motor, the ES 300h sends a combined total of 200 hp through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to its front wheels. That is some way off the 268 hp gasoline powered 3.5-liter V6 ES 350 but the hybrids consumption figures are in another league with a claimed 40/39 mpg in city/highway driving.
The claimed 0-60 mph time of 8.1-seconds is competitive for this segment and the strong torque delivery makes for a relaxed city driving experience and overtaking maneuvers on the highway can be attempted without fear of having to stare down oncoming traffic.
Standard features are generous and the single trim level offers LED exterior lights with auto-headlights, keyless entry, sunroof, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, 8-way power front seats, 8-speaker audio system and a leatherette interior. Standard safety items are impressive and include adaptive cruise control, forward collision monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure intervention and a rearview camera.
Three packages that focus on additional luxury fittings offer heated and ventilated front seats, power tilt and telescope steering wheel, ambient lighting and various wood or bamboo interior trim options.
A Navigation Package adds the obvious navigation system as well as a high-resolution LCD display, voice commands and the Lexus Enform App suite.
Standalone items include a power rear sunshade, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, bi-LED headlamps, parking assist and illuminated trunk and door sills.
The Lexus ES Hybrid offers impressive fuel economy and a luxurious and spacious interior, traits that will likely endear it to the typical hybrid sedan buyer.
A less than sporty driving experience and middling performance are common to this type of car as is the compromised trunk space, although none of these issues seriously detract from what is one of the most accomplished hybrid luxury sedans on the market today.