While you won't often find the phrases "luxury sedan" and "fuel-efficient" used in the same sentence, the Lexus ES 300h proves that the two ideas aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
Based on the latest incarnation of the luxury automaker's ES 350 sedan, the midsize Lexus ES 300h benefits from that model's recent upgrades, including a roomier backseat and suspension and steering refinements designed to make the driving experience more engaging. What sets the ES 300h apart, though, is what's under the hood, namely a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that returns EPA fuel economy estimates of 40 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
Current Lexus ES 300h
The Lexus 300h is a hybrid-powered version of the automaker's midsize ES 350 entry-level luxury sedan. It's offered in a single trim level with standard features that include 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, power front seats, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system. Major options, most of which are offered in packages, include xenon headlights, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system.
Moving all this down the road is a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor and battery pack for a total output of 200 horsepower. Power flows to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Acceleration is respectable -- expect a 0-60 mph time of about 8 seconds -- but the true draw here is fuel economy. The EPA estimates you'll get 40 mpg in combined driving. That's below Toyota Prius territory, but it's still very good and one of the best ways to save gas while still driving a luxury car.
The Lexus ES 300h's interior is well built and attractive, especially with the optional leather upholstery and bamboo wood trim. Front and rear seats offer plenty of room and most gauges and controls are straightforward and easy to use, though the optional Lexus Remote Touch System with its mouselike interface takes some getting used to. Some trunk space has been lost due to the car's battery pack, but there's still a very useful 15.2 cubic feet available.
From behind the steering wheel, the ES 300h offers a classy driving experience, with the hushed interior complemented by the quiet all-electric propulsion that kicks in at low speeds. Though the ES is far from sporty, the powertrain delivers ample acceleration, while the recalibrated steering and suspension hardware give it a more precise feel than previous models. Ride quality is luxury sedan smooth, with pavement irregularities effectively quelled well before they can reach the occupants.
Used Lexus ES 300h Models
The Lexus ES 300h debuted for the 2013 model year. There have been no major changes since.