Lexus is an upmarket Japanese car company that competes with the big-name Germans
and Brits in many different models. It’s not completely successful in this lofty ambition so
relies on very high levels of quality materials inside and out.

While Lexus may not have had great success in getting into the minds of the public, in the
prestige field it’s very well regarding in engineering.

The little ‘h’ tells us it’s a hybrid. Lexus and its parent company Toyota are past masters at
petrol-electric hybrids, with a history stretching back well over 20 years. They continue to
add more performance, at the same time reducing emissions.
We particularly like the spindle grille in this model. Some of the early efforts of Lexus at
this fascinating shape just didn’t work to our eyes, but this one is brilliant. The front of the
ES300h spreads out far and wide visually.

The lower edge of the window line swoops up at the rear, and meets a downward swoop
of the roofline. The lower area of the rear doors also parallels this, moving up from their
rear edge to meet the taillights, then continues into the bootlid for a few centimetres.

Photographs don’t do justice to the styling so you may care to pop into a dealership and
see for yourself. Note: While they are salespeople, we have always found them to be very
gentle in their approach – and will probably invite you into the Lexus ‘cafe’ to have a drink
and a slice of something to eat!

This is a full-on luxury vehicle with the interior trim made from high-class materials. It’s
finished in three different coloured materials, which is a major improvement on the endless
black-on-black that we see in so many cars, even upmarket one.

This is a vehicle aimed at giving all occupants a comfortable life. Even the rear seats can
be inclined and there’s a three-zone air conditioning.

There’s good legroom in the back, though if there’s a long-legged driver it may be
necessary to talk to them and do a deal on space. Either that or sit the shortest rear
passenger behind them. Your call…

The boot is generously long but the low set nature of this semi-sporty sedan makes it
rather low in height. We dropped off the Lexus ES300h at the end of our test period and
got into another Lexus, the UX300e which is a smallish SUV so offered much more cargo
space in height. Stand by for that road test which we will publish next.

The asymmetric shape of the dashboard makes a real stylish statement. More about it in
the Driving segment of the review

The upgraded 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment has proprietary sat-nav, DAB+ digital
radio, Apple and Android smartphone mirroring and Lexus Connected Services.

The Sports Luxury has a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system. Sound
quality is excellent and we really enjoyed the feeling of luxury inside the cabin. It’s even
more enjoyable in the very quiet interior of the Lexus than in lesser cars with a similar

This is where it gets really interesting. The Lexus ES300h has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder
Atkinson-cycle high-compression petrol engine producing 131kW. And an 88kW electric

Peak torque is 221Nm on the petrol unit and 202Nm on the electric motor. The petrol
doesn’t get to its torque peak until it reaches 3600rpm, the electric unit has its torque from
one rpm. Yes, one rpm.

The Lexus has its front wheels driven through a continuously variable transmission.

The Lexus ES300h received a five-star ANCAP when tested in 2018.

This latest update for the 2220 year includes emergency steering assist for collision
avoidance. Active assistance includes lane-departure and blind-spot warning, rear cross-
traffic alert, and parking support brake with vehicle and object detection.

Should you still manage to get involved in a crash it has ten-airbags including knee
airbags for the driver and front passenger. There are chest and head ‘bags across its two
seating rows.

Acceleration is instantaneous, you move the accelerator and the Lexus gets up and goes.
This is one of the best features of all electric vehicles, be they hybrid or full electric.

It doesn’t slow as quickly as we like when we backed off on the pedal. But you do become
to this after a period of time at the wheel. Regular drivers of the any vehicle with electric
power soon become happy with this.

Fuel consumption is impressively low, sitting around 4.9 litres per hundred kilometres
virtually all of the 663 kilometres we covered during our two-week testing period. That’s
just one litre per hundred over the official combined fuel consumption.

The ES’s ride and handling favours the typical buyer in being comfortable rather than
sporty. It handles bends well and on the few times we tested it close to its limits around
corners on our ‘official’ test route it responded well and gave us good feedback.

Lexus ES300h is a beautifully designed and built Japanese machine from a company that
has specialised in in hybrid and electric vehicles for many decades. It’s very much
deserving of a place on your shopping list if you want to minimise climate change, and also
enjoy peaceful motoring.

Looks: 9/10
Performance: 8/10
Safety: 9/10
Thirst: 9/10
Practicality: 7/10
Comfort: 8/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 8/10


ES300h Luxury: $63,550
ES300h F Sport: $72,930
ES300h Sports Luxury: $78,180
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus ES300h F Sport 2.5-litre petrol / electric hybrid four-door sedan)

Capacity: 2.487 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 131 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 221 Nm @ 3600 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 109 g/km

DRIVELINE: Continually variable automatic

Length: 4975 mm
Wheelbase: 2870 mm
Width: 1865 mm
Height: 1445 mm
Turning Circle: 5.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 1740 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Four years / 100,000 kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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