Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher
The 2020 Lexus ES 300 now enters its seventh generation. Without a lot of obvious changes, the ES remains a classy sedan that offers comfort, looks and reliability, and demands it’s worth. After all, not all vehicles purchased today can demand their worth. Not true with a Lexus product. And even those who aren’t car aficionados know this fact.
There were some 81,000 Lexus-badged non-truck vehicles sold in the U.S last year (2019), and 51.336 of them were ES models. The Lexus LS is obviously the brand’s flagship sedan, however, the ES is holding its own in the all-around sedan category.
In an effort to broaden its appeal, the ES has upped its game, particularly in the interior. Although one can argue there are snappier sedans out there, the ES remains a sedan with a more staid, but coveted look, and not all car buyers are looking for stand-out style.
This iteration of the ES 300 hybrid has more of a family resemblance; a modern family, that is. For 2020,the ES has adopted the jury-is-still-out-front grille. Due to this year’s recurved shape, the ES incorporates the grille better than other models. We kind of like it-surprise! Perhaps the blades on the hybrid model NX are a better partner for the grille.
The 2020 ES 300h has the same engine as do the Toyota Camry and the RAV4. An electric motor is packaged with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine, also borrowed. With 215 horsepower, down from last year’s model (302 hp., V6), which is a tad noticeable. However, it remains adequate, with enough punch to satisfy most drivers. Miles-per-gallon are rated at 44 mpg-we didn’t test the accuracy.
As with all Lexus products, one can travel the worst of streets and never feel a bump. Added to that is the ES’ quiet interior-the inner sanctum. Wind noise is barely detectible, with the help of acoustic side glass (Luxury Package).
In 2020, the ES 300 is available in four choices: ES 350 Ultra Luxury ($43,750), ES 300h ($41, 810), ES 350 Luxury ($42,755), and ES350 F Sport ($44,635). For those who have never owned a hybrid vehicle, Lexus has managed to craft a hybrid that feels very much like a gasoline-powered vehicle. Active Glide Control when on ECO mode leaves out the traditional EV regenerative braking, as it coasts along.
The interior is top notch, with the best in materials/leather, 14-way power adjustable seats for driver and passenger. In winter, driver and passengers can opt for the heated seats, and when it’s 90-degrees outside, for the air-conditioned seat feature. The leather hide on the doors and center console is textured, and very classy.
For passengers of all sizes, there is plenty of room in the rear seating area. Leg and head room are generous. The backseat area is well lit with a good size center armrest/cupholder. The moonroof is large, covering much of the rear seating area which also provides light. The ES 300h’s trunk at 16.7 cu. Ft. is generous, offering plenty of extra storage space. With the hybrid model, however, rear seats cannot fold down.
Our Matador Red Mica ES 300h was stunning-and in fact, was our 4th red-toned vehicle this month. It’s clear to see this color denotes pizazz and class, and remains a favorite for that classy ride. We had lots of looks. The interior was also first-rate in Flaxen Semi-Analine Leather, with matte Bamboo trim.
Fourteen-way front seats, heated steering wheel, wiper de-icer, and 12.3-inch large infotainment screen are appreciated. We would opt for the noise-reducing 18-inch wheels and tires, part of a package. Our test vehicle also came equipped with the 10.2 heads-up display ($500), upgraded LED headlamps ($1,515), Mark Levinson sound system, with 17 speakers ($1,080), and wireless charger ($75). We suspect many owners continue to find Lexus’ infotainment touch pad a pain to operate. Never feel comfortable with it. Of course, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both available.
The full Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite is present in the ES. This includes emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane trace assist, automatic high-beams and adaptive cruise control. We found the cruise control very consistent, and it works especially well in concert with lane trace assist. With both active the car will target the middle of the lane by reading road markings, or center itself based on the car ahead.
As with most Lexus products, the ES 300h is a luxury sedan that provides all one could want, and then some. Reading this writer’s reviews, it’s not difficult to sense a biased slant. It’s not hard to be impressed with the Lexus 300h sedan, even though this writer remains a holdout for hybrids. One need not compare the Lexus sedans with the likes of German sedans. Two entirely different animals; one buyer may not necessarily be buying one over the other.
As the hybrid’s share of Lexus sedans grow, nearly one in five buyers in the U.S., there is no question the ES 300h is hitting the mark for many buyers.
| SPECS |
Price as tested: $55,005; starting price $42,835, delivery $1.025
Engine: 2.5L I4 w/ electric motor, Hybrid, inline, 215 hp. Output: 215
hp, 163 lb-ft
Transmission: Electronic CVT, FWD, automatic
Weight: 4,740 lbs.
Height: 56.9 in.
Width: 73.4 in.
Wheelbase: 113.0 in.
Interior: Flaxen semi-anilne leather, bamboo trim
Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.
Wheels: 18-inch alloy lock, split with spoke machined finish (standard 17-inch wheel tire)
Tires: 215/55R18 all-season
Capacity: 5-seat, hybrid luxury sedan
US Fuel Economy (mpg, city/highway/combined): 43/44/44
Warranty: 4 yr/50,000-mile, Basic.