With minimal changes for the new year, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h is back for another comfortable round of soft, stylish luxury. The ES has seen steady improvements over the years in efficiency, controllable ride quality and most certainly in the looks department. As it stands now, especially with that big, polarizing grille up front, this is the most stylish the ES has ever been. To some, it may feel like a piece hastily thrown on. Especially compared to the otherwise sedated visual tone of the rest of the exterior. It does tie the whole Lexus line-up together though, as this oversized grille has become the common thread stitching together the whole model range.
On the inside, you’ll find what the Lexus ES has become renowned for, a quite, luxurious interior space. The rear seats and cabin in general are sun-filled, spacious and widened all the more with long horizontal lines across the dash board and center console. Extra helpings of luxury are added with a bevy of rich materials to choose from, like wood accent panels or piano black trims. Every seat in the house is comfortable and supportive, perfect for long distance driving. You’ll find yourself completely insulated from road noise as well.
With a Sport mode at your fingertips, gone are the days of the mushy, unresponsive ES driving experience. Sport mode boosts steering and suspension athleticism, at the cost of fuel efficiency. The Eco mode flips the script, helping you achieve opposite results. At the end of the day though, the new Toyota ES remains true to its core formula of putting a smooth, cushioned ride over a tightened up sporty one. As it should.
The 2.5L 4-cylinder works in-sync with Toyota’s two-motor hybrid system. This combination allows for short periods of all-electric driving, though only at low speeds and under light acceleration. When accelerating with vigor, the inline-4 will rasp and growl its way up to redline, the electric motors whining along in tune, dishing plenty of low-end pep. In Sport mode especially, you’ll have no problem outpacing slower traffic and zipping around cars on the highway.
The ES continues a legacy of refinement and luxury. Ride quality is smooth and silky, with the helpful option of tightening it up for a more responsive driving experience if one should so desire. The hybrid electric motors make a total system power output of 200 hp with plenty of torque on tap. A combined mpg of 40 is great for this segment as well. Add in a long track record of safety and some smart driving aides, and the new Lexus ES 300h keeps improving on what always made it great, while developing new and exciting ways to become better and better with each passing year.
By: Brandon Randall
Price as tested: $51,129.00