We take the 2020 Lexus ES 300h on the open road
SEATTLE — There’s no doubt that the ES 300 has been an extremely successful car for Lexus. It has been a top seller for decades. It’s a luxury midsize sedan that not only offers plenty of creature comforts but does so with a hybrid drivetrain in this ES 300h model.
This 2020 model continues to refine Lexus’ spindle grill look that combines sporty edginess with refinement in its body lines. While the spindle grill has had a rather polarizing look to many car fans, most Lexus loyalists love it.
It pairs a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor, mated to a CVT transmission. The combined output of the engine and electric motor is 215 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. While it’s not the kind of numbers that will generate 0-60 times that’ll pin you into your seat, it does provide ample power while getting excellent fuel economy. In fact, the EPA rates this ES 300h at 43 miles per gallon in the city and 44 on the highway.
Slipping inside this car, you’ll quickly notice how quiet it is. It’s like having your own sanctuary on the road. Isolated from most of the road noise, it can be quite easy to get lost in here – especially on a road trip.
There’s a whole host of driver and safety aids here as well, in the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. There’s lane keeping assist, auto high-beams, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist. In addition, there’s also blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.
14-way power adjustable front seats help both driver and front passenger find comfort in most any situation. While the rear seats aren’t power adjustable they are very comfortable for rear seats with plenty of legroom, even for adults on longer trips.
Lexus’ use of stitching, leather and soft-to-the-touch surfaces give the car a very expensive look and tactical feel — all going to help one feel extra comfortable in quiet solitude.
The centerpiece of the dash houses Lexus’ 12.3-inch infotainment screen, included in the Ultra Luxury trim. It controls the very good-sounding Mark Levinson audio system that engulfs you in sound that’s as smooth as the car’s ride. Also in the Ultra Luxury trim, you get the heated steering wheel, upgraded leather and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Of course, it’s still controlled by the infuriating touchpad that Lexus seems hellbent on never getting rid of. However, once you get it down a bit, you’ll find the included apps and display quality to be rather nice. Thankfully, there’s also support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
On the road:
We took our test vehicle on an extended road trip for several hundred miles. We can tell you that it’s one of the few cars we’ve tested over the years, where you end-up at your destination still feeling refreshed. Road fatigue isn’t an issue with this car. It’s quiet, welcoming cabin and smooth driving is very welcomed in such an otherwise chaotic world.
Even though it’s not the sportiest vehicle in its class, it easily offers some of the best fuel economy and is a great daily driver or road trip vehicle. Driving the car in the “Sport” drive mode does help things feel a bit more tight, however. Even in normal driving modes, you won’t see excessive body roll in hard corners and it handles itself very well on the road.
At the end of the day, there’s not a lot to fault over this car. Even its CVT transmission handled itself rather well, all things considered. You simply can’t dispute it’s bladder-breaking fuel economy and range. It’s styled well and one of the more comfortable cars you’ll find today.