During our week with the Lexus ES 300h, things were quiet and smooth. While there are all-electric sedans on the market, like the Tesla Model 3, we think the build quality of the Lexus is of a higher pedigree, thus leading us to pick this luxury hybrid over the all-electric competitor. We still don't like the Lexus infotainment interface, but we have learned to live with it.
Safety & Tech Features
Options Quickly Raise MSRP
Why change something that is still perfectly good? If something isn’t broke you leave it alone. That’s what Lexus has done with the 2020 ES 300h. It still offers excellent fuel mileage, and it doesn’t cost much more than the regular gas-only ES 350.
The 2020 Lexus ES 300h is a good example of why Toyota isn’t moving quickly to bring an all-electric sedan to the market. It still remains a favorite after debuting nearly a decade ago. It’s quiet and comfortable, with an impressive array of standard equipment.
This week, we drove a highly-optioned 2020 Lexus ES 300h. Here is how our test drive went.
Lexus ES 300h: What’s New for 2020?
The Lexus ES received a complete remodel in 2019 and carries over essentially unchanged for the 2020 model year. Among the additions for 2020 are Android Auto, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and power-folding mirrors. All ES models offer the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 as standard equipment.
Standard Features: Connectivity & Safety
Our 2020 Lexus ES 300h (base price of $41,760) came nicely equipped with a leather interior, sunroof, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, and an eight-inch central infotainment display. Our ES 300h also came with LED headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone app-based navigation, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Standard safety tech included forward collision mitigation, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and parking sensors.
Lexus Enform Safety Connect is offered for the first 10 years of ownership with access to Lexus Enform response centers 24/7. Lexus Enform Service Connect, also complimentary for 10 years, sends alerts for factory recommended maintenance. With Lexus Enform Remote (offered as a three-year trial), drivers can view and control certain aspects of the ES using a mobile app.
Some Nice Extras!
Our tester came loaded with options like heated and ventilated front seats; wood interior trim; a heated wood steering wheel (also power-adjustable); power rear sunshade; ambient lighting; and a heads-up display. The optional, 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system was included on our ES 300h as well (a 10-speaker Pioneer system is standard).
Added safety features included triple-beam LED headlights, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and intuitive park assist with auto braking. Two other nice extras were the rain-sensing wipers and windshield wiper deicer.
What Does The 2020 Lexus ES 300h Cost?
Total MSRP, including destination, for our 2020 Lexus ES 300h: $53,810. By comparison, the ES 300h starts at $41,810. Overall, the 2020 ES 300h offers shoppers plenty of value in the luxury sedan segment, especially if they are looking for a hybrid.
Interior Highlights: Initial Impressions
Stepping into the ES 300h reveals a comfortable cabin with leather and wood trim for the day and ambient lighting for the evening. When you land in the driver’s seat, you can see the material quality and how the fit and finish is right where it should be. There is a certain richness you would expect from Lexus, and it’s apparent in the ES 300h.
The luxury hybrid is a great place to escape the busy outside world. We cranked up the Mark Levinson 17-speaker premium sound system. With its 1,800 watts of symphony- blasting power, the world seems like a much nicer place as you drive along. The Mark Levinson system is one of the best-sounding of any luxury car today.
Interior Highlights: It’s The Little Things
It’s easy to be pampered with the heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, and 10-way power driver’s seat. The ES 300h is ideal if you use it for business and often find yourself hauling clients and customers around. The power trunk closer is especially convenient for business owners who need the space to carry important files or equipment. Just push the button and the trunk opens or latches to make life a little easier while on the move.
There is ample room for rear passengers to enjoy the ride too. If the sun gets too hot, just pull up the side window shades, which our riders did during an unseasonably warm Denver day this week. The driver can even raise the rear window shade with the touch of a button. The cabin is extra quiet while driving too, so your conversations are not interrupted by road and wind noise.
Engine & Powertrain
The ES 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor and new hybrid transaxle. Total system output is 215 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated with a continuously variable automatic sending power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is not available on the ES 300h.
EPA estimates come in at 43/44 city/highway and 44 combined mpg. One of the top competitors for Lexus in terms of luxury hybrids is Lincoln. However, the ES 300h is ahead of the MKZ Hybrid when it comes to fuel efficiency.
How Does The ES 300h Drive?
This Lexus ES 300h is composed and forgiving over bumps, with the ride quality and handling that luxury car shoppers are looking for. It’s extremely quiet on the road, no matter what speed you are driving. We think some (if not all) buyers will find the ES 300h is a sanctuary of sorts during a busy rush hour commute. We were able to slide into traffic with ease as the hybrid’s 215 horsepower is enough for most driving situations.
We tested the luxury sedan at high altitudes west of Denver where we could have used a bit more power, but for those driving at sea level, it has everything you need.
Driving Dynamics: Quiet & Steady
Overall, the Lexus ES 300h is relaxed, comfortable, and quiet. As we drove around town this week, we didn’t even notice it was a hybrid. The ES 300h shifts seamlessly between electric and gasoline power. While driving through stop-and-go traffic in Denver, the ES 300h will run in electric-only mode. Gentler rates of zero to 25 mph can be achieved on battery power alone.
We would like to see Lexus offer all-wheel drive like Toyota has done with the Camry and Avalon. This would give buyers in cold climates some extra peace of mind.
Conclusion: Nice Blend of Luxury & Value
The 2020 Lexus ES 300h is a joy to drive and will be easy to live with. You can use it for pleasure or business – for either, it’s a good place to spend time. The cabin is luxurious, spacious, and comfortable enough for passengers seated in the back.
There’s plenty of premium-level options that will shout success to your clients but the price will add up quickly. Still, we are impressed with the ES 300h’s blend of luxury and value.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy