2015 Lexus ES 300h – Defies Hybrid Expectations
For years, hybrids have often gotten a bad rap of being pokey to drive and underpowered (see: Prius). This is quite often true with auto makers sacrificing performance for fuel economy. However, if one automaker has gotten hybrids figured out, it is Toyota and Lexus. This Lexus hybrid quite simply defies expectations.
When they dropped off the 2015 Lexus ES 300h, I wasn’t honestly that impressed. Unlike the RC-F, I recently had or even the IS series of vehicles, the ES is rather bland looking. Initially, my excitement was quelled with thinking, “here is another base Lexus.” Sure, it sounds a bit conceited to not be over the moon on a Lexus sedan, yet when you drive as many of them as I do, you want a little bit more.
I found that little bit more behind the wheel. Actually, I found a LOT more behind the wheel. Probably the best complement I can give this car is during my week of driving it, I forgot it was a hybrid. Yep, flat out forgot.Driving the sedan on the highway and around town, it is quite impressive. The powertrain feels so well balanced for the vehicle without plenty of power. Plus, if you want to have some more fun, flip the switch to sport mode and voila! You almost have a different car entirely. While, I may not have been overwhelmed by the styling on the onset, the more fun I had behind the wheel, the more I started to look favorably on the exterior and interior styling. Lexus has this classic look down pat. From the exterior styling to the luxury interior, the Lexus ES 350h is one of those cars that grows on you. The interior is so well laid out and the seats are so plush, it is one of those cars you can drive around in all day without getting fatigued.
During my week, I put several hundred miles on the car driving back from Colorado. If you know the road coming through Cheyenne, then you know it includes nearly 4,000 feet of elevation changes and speeds in the upper 70 MPHs. Also, it is quite often windy through this area and most vehicles either struggle maintaining speed or tire you down fighting the conditions. The 2015 Lexus ES 350h did neither. It easily held the speed with its 2.5L inline four-cylinder engine with electric drive motor mated to a electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). This powertrain produces 200 HP and turns a pretty fast 0-60 in 8.1 seconds (1 second slower than the non-hybrid). Besides the powertrain, the suspension held its own against the bumpy road and high winds. Lexus equips the ES 300h with MacPherson struts featuring coil springs and gas-pressurized shocks absorbers plus front and rear stabilizer bar. Also, the steering is really responsive with an electronical power steering (EPS) system that responds to minimal input. All of this equipment on the 3,682 lb sedan combined with a pretty good start/stop system returns an EPA-estimated 40/39/40 MPG city/highway/combined fuel economy. This is made even better when you consider the non-hybrid ES is rated at 21/31/24 MPG city/highway/combined. Oh and ES hybrid is only $2,900 more than the non-hybrid. With a difference of 16 MPG combined and priced less than $3,000, I would say the hybrid is the one to get. About the only thing I’m starting to see as an area to improve on is technology. Compared with competitors, it feels like Lexus (and Toyota) are falling behind in technology. This is a critical area for all automakers with the next generation of car buyers increasingly valuing technology features in vehicles.
In the end, combining Lexus vehicles stellar reputation for quality with 40 MPG combined fuel economy all for under $50k makes it a solid choice in the luxury market.
Model: 2015 Lexus ES 300h
Engine: 2.5L Inline 4-cylinder
Fuel Economy: 40/39/40 city/highway/combined
- Blind Spot Monitor w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert – $500
- Lane Departure Alert – $1,015
- Navigation System – $1,795
- Power Trunk Closer – $400
- Intuitive Parking Assist – $500
- Rain-Sensing Wipers with Deicer – $155
- Ultra Luxury Package (Bamboo trim, driver+passenger memory seats, heated+ventilated front seats, power rear + manual door sunshades, driver’s seat power cushion extender, ambient lighting, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel) – $2,435
- Bamboo & Leather Trimmed Heated Steering Wheel – $450
Price: $48,605 with $925 delivery fee
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com