With some updates in store for 2017, we spent some time with the Lexus ES300h hybrid sedan. Competing against cars like the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and perhaps even the similar Toyota Avalon Hybrid, we wanted to see how it’s keeping up with the Jones’s.
Just last year the Lexus ES received a redesigned grille and headlights that give the car a sharper and more upscale appearance. Nice touches like satin chrome on the bright work, orate surrounds for the fog lights and the optional LED headlamps bring the style more in line with Lexus other models.
At the rear it also received new LED tail lamps that have a more intricate lighting effect. Even though there’s a subtle deck-lid spoiler that says sporty there’s no exhaust tips in the rear bumper because this is a clean living hybrid.
Of the major news for 2017 is the addition of the Lexus Safety System+ as standard equipment. The package includes auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist. Rain sensing wipers are also now standard.
The interior of our tester featured the Ultra Luxury Package which means generous slabs of genuine wood trims and upgraded leather seating with heating and ventilation up front. A power tilt and telescoping heated steering wheel, ambient lighting and a panoramic roof also included.
As with most Lexus interiors the quality is spot on and it offers a vault like quiet on the road, even with the large glass roof. The seating is exceptionally comfortable both up front and in the back where passengers will enjoy lots of space.
Powering the ES300h is the brand’s venerable 2.5 liter Atkinson cycle engine and a hybrid electric drive system that can move the car with either or both power sources. With 200 total system horsepower, the EPA says it can achieve 40 mpg city, 39 mpg highway with a 40 mpg combined rating.
In our time with it however we achieved 36 mpg with a 50/50 mix of both highway and city driving. Like our last long term test drive of the Lexus ES300h it did fall somewhat short of EPA estimates.
It does have adequate power for around town driving and for passing on the highway, though it doesn’t have the premium luxury car sound and feel some might expect at its price. So while well behaved, the powertrain is starting to fall behind some of the latest hybrid competitors in refinement
Ride is vault like and quiet with a luxury car feel of whipped topping. With its 17-inch low rolling resistance tires it wont give you the kind of grip you might be looking for in a sport sedan, but does give confident control.
With lots of options, our tester rang in at $50,750 those being the expensive but worth it Mark Levinson audio and navigation system, the ultra luxury package and a number of other stand alone extras.