I switched careers a few months back, and though I love what I do now, my commute has now become…long. While my drive is only four miles longer each way, the time I’m in the car has basically more than doubled. With an average speed of 17 mph, the new drive has made me rethink what I am driving and how I drive it. That got me thinking that a hybrid might be a good option, and have been waiting for the chance to put one to work! So I was more than happy to try out the new 2020 Lexus ES300h out for the week. It’s obvious that I am a huge fan of the ES platform, already as I raved about the V6 version early last year.
But does the Hybrid still have it?
The interior is still just as good as the ES350, though I personally prefer the lighter interior. The dark brown, almost purple, dash is okay, it’s certainly interesting. However, the brown leather would be the best option to have long term. Unlike a certain Lexus that cost twice as much, Apple CarPlay is present here, though it does have to be plugged in, unlike the wonderful BMW setup. This would be extremely nice considering the wireless charger is inside the center console. The Mark Levinson sound system does remain undefeated. So the inside of the car is still good, so let’s see how it drives!
To start with, the ES300h is *very* economical. In fact, at 43 city/45 highway, it is one of the most fuel efficient luxury vehicles that does not need plugged in. Over my week with the car I drove 500 miles both in traffic and on the interstate and used just one 13.2 gallon tank of gasoline. For me that’s frankly astounding. For reference, my Lexus ISF has a 16 gallon tank. It averages 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the interstate. If I am lucky I can get 300 miles out of the bigger tank.
So yes the ES300h is efficient, but it definitely comes at a price. While the V6 has 302 horsepower, the Hybrid with its extra 200 lbs and 75 fewer horsepower, struggles to satisfy (let alone impress) in the acceleration department. On top of that, that steering is what I would call “uninspired” to be generous. In traffic this is no problem as the car is relaxing to drive, but as soon as the roads open up, you find yourself wishing you were in another car.
If you like the ES, it all comes down to what you are looking for. The ES300h is definitely an efficient, comfortable, car but the ES350 is just more luxurious and a lot more fun to drive. Just last week, my mother went to buy a new car. After deciding the ES was the right car for her, the Hybrid vs V6 predicament came up. Ultimately the smoothness of the V6 won her over, and I can say that it was ultimately the right choice.