Highlights: The front-wheel drive hybrid system is based loosely off of the Toyota Camry hybrid.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $46,995 (base price $41,355)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: airbags; electronic brake distribution; vehicle stability control; traction control; automatic collision notification; emergency assist button; enhanced roadside assistance; fog lamps with LED running lights; a first aid kit; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard Equipment (base model): 17-inch wheels; a hybrid system; a 3.5-inch infotainment screen; a push-button keyless entry system; power front seats; pseudo leather seats; an auto dimming rearview mirror; a power moonroof; heated external mirrors; an automatic dual climate control system; an integrated rear spoiler; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; three driving modes settings for the steering system; and Siri Eye Free mode compatibility with specific smartphones
Optional Features On Test Vehicle: blind spot mirrors; rear traffic cross alert system with rear camera; a power rear sunshade; leather seats; Bambaoo interior trim; a Bambaoo leather trimmed steering wheels; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; memory driver’s seat settings; a remote keyless entry system; a navigation system; a remote touch mouse pad controller operates audio and nav system; a power trunk closer; and parking alert assist aids
Suspension System: MacPherson strut independent suspension
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: an 8-speaker audio system with AM/FM/HD with a one-disc CD player and satellite radio
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
iPod connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
Hybrid Warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder/200-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 40-city/39-hwy
What’s New: Besides a few content modifications, the Lexus ES 300h is virtually unchanged for the 2015 model year.
Pros: The current generation ES is available with two powertrains, a gasoline and a hybrid. Even with the hybrid being driven by a 4-cylinder engine, drivers will not notice a significant difference in the horsepower and overall performance of the vehicle. The power is more than adequate, especially since the slight trade-off is a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
In fact, the Lexus ES 300h is the most fuel-efficient luxury hybrid available in the entry level luxury segment. This Lexus offers basically every amenity one expects in a luxury vehicle. The entry level Lexus sedan offers everything from a push-button keyless entry ignition starter system to a 10-way power memory operated driver’s seat to a dual climate ventilation system to a power moonroof to a 4-wheel MacPherson suspension system with gas strut pressured strut shock absorbers, making this one road ready vehicle able to absorb every bump in the road.
In addition to the aforementioned noted features, the ES hybrid can also be outfitted with a number of optional driver safety aids, too. Some of those features include an electronic blind spot lane changing mirrors to a lane departure alert system tied in with the headlight system to a radar-activated cruise control system to a pre-collision braking system.
Furthermore, the luxury hybrid audio system can be upgraded with a crystal clear Mark Levinson 15-speaker, 835-watt killer system.
Cons: We only had two minors concerns with our well-equipped Lexus hybrid. First, the design team should consider enhancing the aesthetic appeal, adding a panoramic roof to the option list, replacing the standard size roof. Secondly, why are the engineers offering three driving modes in this luxury vehicle? Most buyers opting for an entry-level luxury vehicle aren’t expecting this vehicle to offer an engaging sporty driving experience. If that’s the case, they would switch to another luxury brand.
Verdict: The Lexus ES 300h continues to be the gold standard in the entry level four-door luxury segment. It’s a stylish, understated, reliable, well-equipped vehicle, which also happens to achieve great gas mileage, too, since adding a hybrid powertrain!
Competition: Buick Lacrosse (4-cylinder); Infiniti Q50 hybrid and Lincoln MKZ hybrid
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.