With new models like the RC, GS F and the upcoming LC, Lexus has definitely achieved a new level of sportiness, but the 2017 Lexus ES 300h shows that this luxury brand hasn’t given up on the good, old-fashioned luxury cruiser.
In case you’re wondering, the “h” in the ES 300h stands for hybrid, but don’t go rushing to judgement that this is a boring gasoline-electric car with a luxurious interior… Lexus tried that experiment, and failed, with the short-lived HS 250h. Instead, this mid-size luxury sedan is more like a smaller and more affordable version of the full-size Lexus LS – a car that goes to extreme lengths to deliver maximum comfort. Sure, the hybrid powertrain can boast a few extra mpgs on its spec sheet, but as I found out during this test drive review of the 2017 Lexus ES 300h, this car is all about being a smooth operator.
2017 Lexus ES 300h Exterior:
Following a minor yet effective design refresh for the 2016 ES lineup, the 2017 Lexus ES 300h carries over completely unchanged. This sedan definitely doesn’t look like your typical hybrid electric vehicle with a sporty look and stance that starts with Lexus’ in-your-face spindle grille. This love-it-or-hate-it design element is flanked by LED headlights with checkmark daytime running lights and LED fog lights. V-spoke wheels and LED taillights add to the car’s overall styling, but it’s the eye-catching Matador Red Mica paint job that really makes this car stand out. As far as differences between the ES 350 and this 2017 Lexus ES 300h go, they are subtle and limited to a rear spoiler, hidden exhaust pipes, blue Lexus badges and, of course, the “HYBRID” script.
2017 Lexus ES 300h Interior:
It doesn’t matter if you’re driving this sedan or enjoying it from the back seat, the 2017 Lexus ES 300h is dollar-for-dollar one of the best luxury sedans on the market. Not only did this sedan look the part with rich Stratus Gray leather and Espresso Bird’s-Eye Maple trim, it also added plenty of options including the 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system for $2,590, wood and leather trimmed steering wheel for $300, a power trunk for $400 and the power rear sunshade (to go with manual side sunshades on the rear doors) for $210. Finally, the $1,670 Luxury Package was the icing on the cake with power tilt and telescope steering wheel, perforated leather seats, heated and cooled front seats.
As Lexus has become known for, all of the materials inside the 2017 Lexus ES 300h are high quality no matter what you touch, and the rear seat even offers enough room for taller occupants to stretch out a little. As a driver, though, one of my favorite things about the current Lexus offerings is the easy-to-use Remote Touch controller that fits ergonomically in your hand and is very intuitive to use when operating the infotainment system on the generous center display. Perhaps the only sacrifice that buyers must make when choosing the ES 300h over the ES 350 is the reduced trunk space – 12.1 cubic feet vs. 15.2 cubic feet.
2017 Lexus ES 300h Performance:
Once you’re behind the wheel, this is where the 2017 Lexus ES 300h really starts to make sense. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four mated to a continuously variable transmission and an electric motor to give this car a net output of 200 horsepower. While that’s less than most entry-level compacts, this 3,682-pound sedan has absolutely no problem returning EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway**. This sedan does take advantage of the Lexus Hybrid Drive with the ability to drive short distances in EV mode.
As proof that the 2017 Lexus ES 300h has no sporty intentions, Lexus says that the sedan can accelerate from 0-60 in 8.1 seconds and top out at a speed of 112 mph. As I said earlier, though, the point of this car isn’t performance… after all, if you want a sporty Lexus sedan, that’s what the GS and IS are for. The ES 300h is all about smoothness with a perfectly tuned CVT that lets this hybrid accelerate effortlessly without a fuss and a suspension that has no problem absorbing just about any road conditions you can imagine. Even better, the cabin of the 2017 Lexus ES 300h is whisper quiet regardless of speed and tunes out road and tire noise with perfection. Like just about all hybrids on the market, the ES 300h does exhibit a noticeably squishy brake pedal detracting from the car’s overall driving dynamic.
2017 Lexus ES 300h Safety:
The biggest change made to the 2017 Lexus ES 300h is that the Lexus Safety System+ is now standard equipment, and it brings driver assistance technology such as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beam (IHB) and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist. Although the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has only tested the non-hybrid ES 350, this luxury sedan has achieved a Top Safety Pick+ as well as a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This tester also came with options such as the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and the Intuitive Parking Assist – both priced with an MSRP of $500.
2017 Lexus ES 300h Overall:
The 2017 Lexus ES 300h luxury hybrid sedan definitely isn’t intended for everyone, but if you’re looking for a spacious family sedan that is luxurious and efficient, this is the best Lexus for the job – a fact that is backed up by the ES standing as the best-selling model in the Lexus lineup. Not only that, but unlike other hybrid vehicles, the premium over the non-hybrid ES is minimal (less than $3,000) with a starting price of $41,820*. Factor in all of the options and packages, and this almost fully loaded ES 300h was still reasonably priced with an as-tested price of $49,480.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Lexus dealer and test drive the 2017 Lexus ES 300h today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.