2014 Lexus ES300h Review By John Heilig
THE AUTO PAGE
2014 Lexus Review
By John Heilig
2014 Lexus ES300h Review
Engine: 2.5-liter I4with high output permanent drive electric drive motor
Horsepower/Torque: 200 (total), 156 hp @ 5,700 rpm (gasoline)/ 156 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Wheelbase: 111.0 in.
Length x Width x Height: 192.7 x 71.7 x 57.1 in.
Cargo: 12.1 cu. ft.
Economy: 40 mpg city/39 mpg highway/32.8 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,660 lbs.
Sticker: $46,070 (includes $895 delivery charge, $6,325 in options - $2,625 for the luxury package)
The Bottom Line: The Lexus ES has shown itself to be popular as an entry to the luxury car segment. Adding hybrid technology to what is essentially a fancy Camry makes t even more appealing, even if the price is in the range of the initial LS400.
Lexus created the ES as an entry-level luxury car and an introduction to the Lexus brand lo these many years ago. At its heart, the ES was a Toyota Camry, but there were many who willingly paid the extra money for what the Lexus has to offer over the Toyota.
Over the years the ES has improved impressively, to the point where it can compete on its own with many of the regular luxury cars on the market. Today’s ES350 has power and great styling.
Complementing the ES350 is the ES300h, a hybrid with all the physical attributes of the ES350, but with a hybrid drive system to offer better fuel economy.
The ES300h carries EPA estimates of 40 mpg city and 39 mph highway. Over the years I don’t believe I have ever matched the EPA estimates in any hybrid vehicle, but we came close with the ES300h, getting 32.8 mpg overall. Still impressive.
The ES hybrid suffers a small weight disadvantage to the non-hybrid – 3,660 to 3,549 lbs. curb weight – but that’s primarily to the weight of the battery pack. There’s also a slight reduction in cargo volume – 12.1 to 15.2 cubic feet, again due to the battery location. But other than these two details, the cars are identical.
I was impressed by the power available with the ES300h. It’s there when you need it. For example, I had to pass a truck when the road went from two to one lane and I zipped by. With your foot on the floor there is some engine noise, but in normal driving the engine is relatively quiet.
In addition, the handling is very good. We tried the ES300h on some unknown winding roads and felt I was in control the whole time. On another trip, I had to make some quick U-turns and direction reversals and again, the ES300h held up well.
Like all Lexus’, the ES300h is a nice driver and rider. You expect a comfortable ride from any luxury car, entry or top-of-the-line, and the ES300h delivers. The front seats are comfortable with excellent leg, shoulder and hip room. The driver’s seat has adjustable lower back support and some side support. The rear seats have very god leg and hip room. There’s also a flat floor, so a third passenger could ride in the center without becoming too friendly with his or her knees. The rear seat backs don’t fold to increase cargo capacity.
For added driver comfort, there is a heated steering wheel.
I think the high beams are awesome. We live in an area where we travel a lot on dark roads with the potential for deer bounding out in front of us. With the high beams on, the road ahead looks as if it is in daylight. These high beams are among the best I have encountered. The HID headlamps are a $515 option.
The navigation system was so-so to program using the console-mounted “mouse.” In one case, I couldn’t even program in my destination. On the way home, it sent me off on some weird turns on roads that weren’t there. Fortunately I was back on a familiar road this time.
The audio system offered good sound. Again, you use the “mouse to make your choices.
I liked the analog clock in the center of the dash as well as the digital one in the instrument cluster.
The ES300h also had a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert ($500). Intuitive parking assist keeps you from dinging up the fenders. I found it especially useful when cozying up to my favorite ATM machine. The automatic headlights and wipers are great in questionable weather.
Overall, the ES300h is the equal of the ES350 in almost all metrics, with the added advantage of using less fuel.
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