2015 Lexus ES 300h Review

ES 300h

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2015 Lexus ES 300h Overview

What if you drove a hybrid and it felt completely normal? What if the vehicle seemed just like any other vehicle, but got much better mileage? If you have ever asked yourself that question, you can find the answer in the 2015 Lexus ES 300h. This is a hybrid that comes with no compromise in ride quality or driving pleasure. In fact, it's so quiet and so smooth it may spoil regular cars for you forever. You’ve been warned.

Incredibly, this is the sixth generation of the ES from Lexus. In a fun twist of fate, the 2015 ES 300h generates 156 hp from its 2.5-liter engine — the same amount the 1989 ES 250 did. These days, that power is made by a 4-cylinder, Atkinson cycle engine instead of the V6 Lexus used back in the ’80s. Lexus mates an electric motor to this 4-cylinder gasoline engine, with both driving the front wheels. Together the pair provide 200 hp but it feels like more since the electric motor provides instant torque. Lexus uses a gearless continuously variable transmission (CVT) in the 2015 ES 300h, techonology that has since been adopted by many of this hybrid’s competitors.

Driving the 2015 ES 300h is a study in normality. The vehicle accelerates to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds — a completely ordinary statistic for a premium sedan. The only thing most drivers notice about the ES 300h is that it is quieter than most sedans in its class. In fact, when stopped, or when the vehicle is using its electric drive, the ES 300h is completely silent. Like all ES models, the ES 300h handles well. Steering is direct, and bumps are tackled with almost comic ease.

Since the 2015 Lexus ES 300h is a hybrid, we need to get some numbers out of the way. First, the ES 300h uses regular unleaded and earns an EPA estimated rating of 40 mpg city/39 highway/40 combined. For a large sedan, these numbers are very impressive. One added benefit of the excellent fuel economy is that the ES 300h can go just under 700 miles on a full tank of gas.

Additionally, the EPA says that, compared to a typical sedan this size, the 2015 Lexus ES 300h will save its owner $3,250 over the first 5 years of ownership. That's almost exactly the added cost of this vehicle compared to its sibling, the ES 350 (which has a gasoline engine only). It's easy to see how the ES 300h puts its owner ahead financially.

More impressive is the environmental successes of the ES 300h. At only 223 grams of CO2 per mile, it has some of the lowest emissions of a vehicle its size. To beat its CO2 rating, one needs to select a vehicle that plugs in and uses supplemental electricity. Even then, that electricity has a carbon footprint.

A bare-bones Lexus ES300h includes a lot of what many cars add as options. For example, a power moonroof, smart key and push-button entry, LED lighting, a backup camera, power seats, and HD Radio with traffic and weather. The standard seats are perforated NuLuxe, which mimics the benefits of leather without having to involve a cow, something a many green-car buyers appreciate.

Choosing an ES 300h with the Premium Package adds memory seating, bamboo wood trim, tilt and telescope steering, and keyless entry. Lexus offers three other packages called the Navigation/Premium Audio Package, Luxury Package, and Ultra Luxury Package.

Since this is a Lexus, the 2015 ES 300h also comes with some intangibles. Lexus has repeatedly topped reliability and quality rankings, and Lexus dealerships offer an ownership experience that can be matched, but not beaten. Finally, this vehicle will also have a potentially higher resale value than similar cars from Infiniti, Mercedes, Acura, and BMW (according to NADA).

There is no question that the ES 300h will be on the short list of green premium sedans. However, the 2015 Lexus ES 300h may also be a car worth considering for any midsize or large premium car shopper. The excellent cost of ownership and green credentials are just a bonus with the ES 300h.


John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. In the early 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric race car from scratch. In addition to his work at CarGurus, John covers automotive news at Torque News and GM-trucks.com and is a contributor to CarTalk and BestRide. Aside from all things automotive, John loves fishing and hockey, preferably in the company of his two boys.

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