2017 Lexus ES300h
(audio file at end of review)
If you spend a lot of time in your car and want one that won’t wear you out with the performance oriented driving experience so common in today’s mid-size luxury sedans the Lexus ES may be what you need. The Lexus ES 300h series is almost the perfect car if you spend the day making client visits, go to the theater in the evening or cruise the country side on long weekends.
Our test car was the ES300h, the hybrid version offered at a $2900 premium. As tested our sedan stickered at $48,794 which puts it out of the price range for a great many buyers. However, for those looking to buy a luxury level, full size sedan the ES is worthy of consideration. Lexus holds the best resale value in the class. When using Edmunds.com true cost of ownership for five years the EX300h falls between the Lincoln MKZ and the Acura TLX.
The ES 300h is on an Avalon base
Built on the Toyota Avalon base the ES has over 40 inches of rear leg room, making it comparable to the Buick La Cross in rear seat roominess. Our upgraded embossed leather trimmed interior offered comfortable seating all around with heated and cooled seats in front. The 10 way power adjustment on both front seat make it possible to relieve road weariness with minor adjustments.
I drove the ES300h for over 800 miles averaging 39.1 miles per gallon combined city and highway. This is impressive fuel economy for a luxury sedan, but not enough in itself to justify the cost of the hybrid option. According to Edmunds the ES350 V6 model has a lower 5 year cost of ownership despite the 40% fuel savings on the hybrid edition. There are other considerations when opting for the more ecofriendly model.
The combined power output of the 2.8 liter, 4 cylinder engine and the hybrid motor is 200 horsepower. Because the electric power is available instantly on demand the acceleration is not bad and we had no problems negotiating the Houston Freeway system. Cornering is a bit soft, and body shift on harder braking is noticeable, but as I said in the beginning, this is not a driving experience machine, it is a comfortable second home.
Lexus uses a joy stick type controller to navigate the 7 inch center stack display. At first it is a bit cumbersome, but the driver will rapidly adapt to the sensitive toggle of the control. The Lexus Enform infotainment system provides an adequate selection of apps and features but notably lacks Apple Car Play or Android Auto. Sync is quick and reconnection takes only a few seconds. My only reservation on the system is the location of the joystick allows for accidently tapping the control and switching functions by the unintended touch. I finally made it a point to move the cursor location off any control function. Later in the week I found that the new for 2017 back button in the touch controller would return me to where I was. I was also unable to find an easy way to mute the sound while in the Navigation screen other than using the radio off knob. It may be there, after a week behind the wheel I was still finding functions I didn’t know the car had.
Safety is a huge factor in the ES series. With Lexus Safety Plus standard the car comes with some amazing features that can only help to save lives and property. Active cruise control will keep pace with the traffic ahead, slowing and accelerating as needed and bringing the car to a full stop if necessary. Emergency braking will stop the car to prevent impact, lane keeping will not only warn if you drift out of your lane but also steer you back into your own. Sensor in both front and rear bumpers will alert you of obstacles near the car and of approaching cross traffic as you back up. Blind spot monitors light up in the side mirrors to warn of other cars in your blind spot. Lexus includes pedestrian alerts as well. The combination of these high-tech features make this car safer to drive in congested areas and on the open road.
Other driving aids such as rain sensing wipers and automatic high beam headlamps combined with the Lexus Safety System ease the driving burden almost to the point of being a passenger in the left seat.
Of course Lexus uses the keyless start and stop system that allows the driver to keep the key in pocket or purse and they combine that with touch sensing door handles to lock the car on exit. It is small innovations such as this that place the Lexus in a category above most others.
Overall, the Lexus ES300h is an excellent pick for those drivers wanting comfort, security and ecofriendly transportation.
Reviewed on air January 28, 2017