2020 Lexus ES 300h: Review

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience 2020 Lexus ES
One of the two original Lexus models when the brand debuted in 1989, the Lexus ES continues as the brand’s best-selling sedan. Now in its seventh generation, the current car debuted for the 2019 model year, including a new Lexus ES 300h hybrid version. Toyota’s luxury brand has much success with its two-pronged approach to the entry-luxury segment — offering the ES as a more traditional luxury sedan, and the IS as a more performance-oriented, rear-drive sport sedan.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience 2020 Lexus ES 300h
Our test vehicle was a 2020 Lexus ES 300h finished in Silver Lining Metallic with a black perforated NuLuxe interior. Starting MSRP for the ES 300h is $41,760. The test car was equipped with additional optional equipment including a Premium Package, a Navigation / Mark Levinson Audio Package, triple-beam LED headlights, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, 18-inch split 10-spoke alloy wheels, a 10.2-inch head-up display, a heated wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel, and wood trim with ambient lighting for a total MSRP of $53,810 including delivery, processing and handling.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience Exterior Design
Toyota builds the seventh generation ES on the Lexus Global Architecture platform for a more rigid chassis and improved comfort and handling. Longer, lower and wider than the previous generation, the wheels of the 2020 ES are pushed out closer to the corners of the vehicle, thanks to a longer wheelbase as well as wider front and rear tracks (the distance between the wheels across each axle). The Lexus ES also features a faster roofline.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience New Elements
At the front, the Lexus ES receives the latest version of the signature Lexus spindle grille with a vertical grille pattern and satin trim. Similar treatment at each corner of the bumper gives the ES a look that differentiates it from other Lexus models. New slim headlights offer optional triple beams and include L-shaped daytime running lights. At the rear, LED taillights wrap around into the fenders and feature a three-dimensional, L-shaped design.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USA Under the Hood
The 2020 Lexus ES 300h derives power from Toyota’s fourth-generation Hybrid Drive System that combines a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine with a smaller, more power-dense electric motor and an all-new hybrid transaxle. The 2.5-liter engine produces 176 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque, while the electric motor contributes an additional 39 horsepower for total system output of 215 horsepower. According to Lexus, the ES 300h will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. The 2020 Lexus 300h receives an EPA rating of 43 mpg city / 44 mpg highway / 44 mpg combined.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience Inner Space
Inside, the ES 300h continues the Lexus tradition of providing space and comfort for occupants — in this case up to five adults. The driver-centric cockpit displays all the information a driver needs via an LCD instrument panel that includes a large analog tachometer, digital speedometer and multi-information display. The Lexus Multimedia System is positioned high above the center stack, and our test car included the optional Navigation Package with its 12.3-inch display. The Remote Touch Interface pad in the center console controls functions on the screen and gets updated with a larger surface area and haptic feedback.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USA On the Road
The 2020 Lexus ES 300h has plenty of power for smooth, comfortable everyday driving while delivering more than 40 mpg combined. Instances of aggressive acceleration — such as pulling into traffic or merging onto the freeway — cause the engine to rev at higher rpm, as expected from a CVT. However, 90 percent of the time power in the ES 300h feels more than adequate without straining the powertrain and delivering on the promise of smooth, comfortable driving.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience Interior Comfort
The interior of the 2020 Lexus ES 300h is comfortable in its own right; granted, the test car we drove felt even more luxurious thanks to the Premium Package, Navigation / Mark Levinson Audio Package, the wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel, wood trim and ambient lighting. The perforated NuLuxe seats also have optional heating and cooling up front. The new ES design adopts two rotary knobs located up high on either side of the instrument cluster — a nod to the original Toyota Supra, and first seen on the Lexus LC coupe. Unfortunately they seem out of place within the ES.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience Interior Space
The rear seat of the 2020 Lexus ES provides plenty of room for two or three adult passengers to ride in comfort. For this latest generation ES hybrid, the battery has been relocated from the trunk to beneath the rear seat for additional trunk space when compared to the previous generation.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience Right For You?
The Lexus ES 300h is a car for drivers seeking Lexus luxury in a midsize sedan that has an emphasis on both comfort and fuel efficiency. The ES is not a car that will satisfy driving enthusiasts, but that is not its intention. Lexus offers performance-oriented models for that. The ES is all about smooth, quiet, effortless comfort.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience Rating: 8.5
The 2020 Lexus ES 300h is everything a driver would want in a car promoting comfort, driving ease and fuel efficiency. The exterior design possesses the Lexus look, and the Lexus feeling of luxury surrounds both driver and passengers. The hybrid powertrain adds a level of fuel efficiency unexpected in a Lexus that delivers these levels of comfort, spaciousness and luxury.

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