While there are many premium automobiles offering diesel and hybrid technology, few are priced within reach of the entry-level luxury consumer. Fewer still offer full-size space and a comfortable ride. But a starting price of less than $45,000, Lexus's ES 300h makes a compelling case for itself, and a strong rival to the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
As with the standard ES, the ES hybrid has received an update for 2016. Designers refreshed its styling with a new front fascia that features a zig-zagging chrome accent for the fog lamps, a bold chrome-outlined grille, and new angular headlamps that have full LED beams and optional automatic high beams which can detect both oncoming traffic and the taillights of vehicles ahead. New 17-inch wheels and restyled L-shaped tail lights are also a part of the package. Blue-hued badges, a slim rear spoiler, and an exhaust pipe hidden from view are easy ways to pick out the hybrid model.
On the inside, the ES 300h gets a new steering wheel, more soft-touch plastics, a new 4.2-inch colour instrument cluster display, and a revised version of the Lexus Remote Touch controller with two additional "enter" buttons. Lexus’s infotainment system offers support for Siri Eyes-Free but does not yet feature Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Lexus has also added more sound deadening to abate noise on the move, not that the car wasn't already one of the quieter vehicles in the segment. The ES’s cabin offers impressive accommodations, particularly for rear-seat passengers with upwards of a metre of rear legroom.
The ES 300h features the same powerplant as the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Lexus NX 300h compact crossover. The 2.4-litre engine in conjunction with a battery pack and electric motor produce 200 net horsepower. Acceleration is acceptable rather than swift, but the trade-off is excellent fuel economy (5.9 L/100 km average, vs. 9.7 L/100 km average for the ES 350) and the ability to drive on electricity in absolute silence. Drivers can use a rotary knob to select from three different driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) which alter the engine's responsiveness. A separate button activates an EV-only mode. All 300hs use a CVT and drive the front wheels.
Though limited to the range-topping Executive Package, the ES 300h offers the latest generation of active safety equipment. Lane departure warning, radar cruise control, and a pre-collision warning system are bundled together with a premium Mark Levinson audio system, power trunk, ambient lighting, and leather upholstery. Rear cross-traffic alert, reverse camera, blind-spot monitoring, and auto-leveling headlamps are included in the Touring package.
Regardless of trim, all ES 300hs receive heated and ventilated front seats with 10-way power adjustment, clearance and parking sensors, proximity key with push-button start, and a power moonroof.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed