Hybrids are gaining traction here in the U.S. and they are not only fuel-efficient but they are becoming more fun to drive. The Lexus ES 300h Hybrid gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 mpg and features seamless shifts between battery and engine power. The only reason we knew it was a hybrid was when we first started the ES 300h up and didn’t hear the typical engine noise.
This week, we are testing the 2014 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid ($39,350) with added options like Blind Spot Monitor ($500), Lane Departure Alert ($965), Navigation with backup camera, 8-inch VGA Screen, voice command and Lexus Enform w/destination assist and eDestination ($2,625) and Extra Luxury Package with Bamboo trim, heated and cooled seats, power memory seats, power door shades, ambient lighting and power tilt/telescoping steering wheel ($2,435).
What’s New for 2014?
The Lexus ES 300h now comes standard with xenon headlights. The recently redesigned Lexus ES 300 gets a couple of technology upgrades for 2014 and offers several new interior options, including bamboo trim that we see on this hybrid tester.
Inside the Lexus ES 300h
One reason to buy a Lexus is for the creature comforts that come inside the cabin. The Lexus ES 300h features a quiet place to escape the noise and craziness of the outside world. The cabin is very inviting and a place you don’t mind spending lots of time. This tester came with lots of extras to make it even more comfortable for driver and passengers. It featured power heated and ventilated front seats, position memory and a moderate thigh extender for the driver’s seat cushion. One drawback to the ES 300h interior is the Lexus mouse-based interface for the car’s electronics. It’s a bit distracting to use and annoying when you need to change the radio from AM to FM.
Our rear-seat passengers found ample leg room and comfort as we drove to lunch this week. The rear seat adds extra comfort items like reading lights, assist handles, two center vents and optional window shades to make longer journeys in the back seat more comfortable.
Engine and fuel-mileage specs
Getting behind the wheel of this ES 300 hybrid makes us appreciate the hybrid technology that Toyota has developed and uses in their luxury brand. The Lexus ES 300h hybrid achieves fuel economy in the area of 40 mpg which is better than many economy cars. And the shifts are seamless between battery and engine power when we pushed for more power.
The Lexus ES 300h uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 156 hp, and a magnetic electric-drive motor for a total system output of 200 hp. It comes mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The fuel-stingy 2014 Lexus ES 300h gets an EPA estimated 40/39 city/highway mpg making it one of the most fuel-efficient sedans in the U.S.
Driving the ES 300 hybrid
Toyota has been developing the hybrid technology for decades and they have it perfected. We drove the ES 300h in electric-only mode at gentle rates to 25 mph before the gas engine kicked in. It was great in Denver’s heavy commuter traffic as we crept along at slower speeds and stayed under electric power as traffic was slow around Sports Authority Field before the Broncos game.
The ES 300h is no sports sedan, but the 200 hp sedan has enough power for most driving situations. We took it up I-70 into the mountains and it had respectable power in the fast lane. When we put the pedal down, you can hear the ES 300h engine a bit more than in the V6 ES 350, but from the back seat it was barely audible over freeway noise.
As in most hybrid vehicles, the brake pedal is touchier than in standard gas vehicles, because of the regeneration process as they recharge the battery. On the highway, this Lexus ES 300h is quiet and comfortable as you would expect from a Lexus product. Even on rough and uneven dirt roads, the ES 300h suspension handles the bumps and grooves and smooths them out.
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The Lexus ES will get you where you need to go comfortably and calmly in a noisy world and it’s ideal for those stop and go commutes. It offers an inviting roomy cabin that comes well finished in attractive materials and you can get it loaded with options to make it even more comfortable. The hybrid powertrain is highly efficient, gets better fuel mileage than many compact cars and will save you money at the gas pump. The 2015 Lexus ES 300h is a good choice for those wanting the comforts of an entry-level luxury sedan coupled with excellent fuel economy.