Exception to the rule
Roseville, CA- This is not just another expensive, performance-oriented, luxury hybrid vehicle.
The 2020 Lexus ES 300 hybrid is a notable exception to the rule. It features a stylish interior, solid performance and handling. And we saved the best for last – fantastic fuel economy that’s estimated at 43-45 mpg? Equipped with a 13.2 gas tank, the 300h can travel close to 600 miles before a fill-up is required.
Lexus might not be able to outperform its German rivals in terms of outright speed, but the 300h costs thousands of dollars less, and its four-cylinder engine is a good one. And the 300h price tag is only around $5,000 more than the Toyota Avalon hybrid. Lexus is Toyota’s luxury brand and there’s no arguing that the 300h has luxurious qualities that the Toyota hybrid equivalent can’t match.
If considering the gas-powered version of the 300h, the advantage is getting more power and a smaller sticker price. The Lexus ES 350 starts at around $40,000, only a couple of grand below the 300h (approximately $42,000). The ES 350 has a stout V6 engine, yet the mileage range (22-33 mpg) is much less.
Part of the seventh generation of this popular midsize sedan, the ES 300h was fully redesigned last year. The improvements included fuel efficiency, more safety features, upgraded technology, and additional cargo space.
The ES 300h features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that pairs with an electric motor for a combined 215 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. It receives criticism for a lack of performance, since it only accelerates from 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds, which is slow by luxury standards.
No one who test drives either ES models will confuse them with the sportier BMW 5 series. But a relatively new suspension and some steering changes have improved the way the ES handles overall. The braking remains good and even at high speeds the ES provides solid handling and a quiet ride. The vehicle has autonomous emergency braking that comes standard.
Driving 600-plus miles along the challenging Oregon coast last summer was a little exhausting at times. However, making the drive more pleasurable was the comfortable front seating the ES 300h provided. An abundance of soft materials throughout also added to the comfort. The back seat is relaxing as well, offering good leg and head room.
AT A GLANCE – 2020 LEXUS ES 300H
- Performance: Hybrid 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 215 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 43-45 mpg
- Estimated Price: $41,900 to $45,700
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited mileage; corrosion: 6 years/unlimited
Now that the battery has been relocated below the rear seats, the cargo space has improved, expanding to 16.7 cubic feet. The bad news is the rear seat doesn’t fold down to increase the storage capacity.
We loved the sound of the 10-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and that Lexus has finally started offering Apple CarPlay, a real plus on a sizable road trip. Even though the standard 7-inch instrument display screen is very crisp, we aren’t fans of the touchpad mouse that makes operating the infotainment interface more difficult than it should be.
The 2020 Lexus ES 300h has little downside; it’s a highly fuel-efficient, roomy luxury sedan.