2020 Lexus ES 300h: Performance meets economy
Like all manufacturers who use letters to identify their vehicles, it is hard for the uninitiated to tell the various Lexus models apart just by their names. That's just what happens when the car lineup is IS, ES, GS, LC, LS and RC, with an F and h thrown in for good measure.
I admit that I don't know what any of the double letters really stand for, but I've decided ES means Extra Special. All versions of the mid-size sedan are stylish, luxurious, refined, loaded with technology and remarkably affordable for a premium car. A fully loaded 2020 ES 300h (the hybrid version), the subject of this week's test, lists for less than $54,000, which is amazing for such a large vehicle that is both fast and EPA rated at 44 miles per gallon.
Talk about the best of all worlds.
All versions of the Lexus ES look fast sitting still. They are long and low, with sleek exterior lines that shoot along the sides from the large, trademark spindle grill to the bulging rear flanks. Our tester came with 18-inch Split 10-Spoke Alloy Wheels and a rear spoiler that highlighted the looks even more.
The interior was equally dazzling, with a wide 10.2-inch high display screen stretching along the top of the swoopy dash. For a mid-size the ES offers a lot of room in both the front and rear, making a genuine option for those who think they might need a fullsize car. The 10-way power front driver and passenger seats were both comfortable and supportive. And the 1800-watt Mark Levinson audio system was a delight.
Our test model also came with practically every advanced safety feature on the planet included in the Lexus Safety System 2.0 + package, such a pre-collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, land departure alert with steering assist, radar cruise control, you name it. That's what buyers expect in genuine luxury cars these days.
Although the hybrid system is our 300h is only rated at 215 horsepower, it felt much more powerful than that, thanks to the torque produced by the two electric motors that assists the 2.5-liter engine. There's a Sport mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifter for even more performance.
In a week of test driving, our 2020 Lexus ES 300h was always enjoyable and entertaining, with a supple suspension that smoothed out the road but still enoraged spirited driving.
If you want more than that, there's also an ES 350 version that comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower and 267 foot pounds of torque. It can be ordered with aforementioned F Sport package that improves handling even more.
With consumers prefering crossover these days, some manufacturers are dropping their cars. Foruntately, Lexus is continuing to offer a full line of sedans, coupes and convertibles, along with an impress selection of SUVs. If you still enjoy the feel of a premium road car that gets impressive mileage, the 2020 Lexus ES 300h needs to be at the top of your shopping list.
2020 Lexus ES 300h
Base price: $41,760
Price as tested: $53,810
Type: Midsize sedan
Engine: 2.5-liter 4 and two electric motors (215 hp)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Modes: Eco, Normal, Sport
EPA estimated mileage: 43/44
Overall length: 196 inches
Curb weight: 3,704 pounds
Final assembly: Georgetown, Kentucky
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