Do you want the fuel efficiency offered by a typical hybrid but also want more upscale and spacious cabins? A large, inexpensive luxury hybrid may seem like an impossible, but the 2018 Lexus ES 300h can provide on all fronts.
This comfortable large sedan provides spacious transportation for five passengers while returning 40 mpg of combined fuel economy. You definitely get a lot for your money with the ES 300h. The price is only slightly more than the related Toyota Avalon Hybrid, but Lexus is undoubtedly more luxurious than its sibling company.
That does not mean the ES 300h comes without drawbacks, you hand over some functions when you upgrade. It is specifically referred to the Lexus Remote Touch infotainment controller, which is frustrating to use even for seasoned tech-savvy. But overall, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h should be able to satisfy buyers who want a fuel-efficient and spacious luxury sedan.
The 2018 Lexus ES 300h is unchanged and carries over from 2017.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Lexus ES 300h is a five-passenger, large luxury hybrid sedan that’s offered in a single, well-equipped trim level.
Standard equipment for the ES 300h includes 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, automatic high beams, LED headlights and taillights, Led foglights and running lights, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a driver information display, simulated leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats with two-way power lumbar, an 8-inch central display screen, Lexus Enform Remote, Siri Eyes Free (iPhone voice control integration) and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB port, HD and satellite radio.
Also standard is a suite of advanced safety features such as a forward collision warning system with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and mitigation and Lexus Safety Connect emergency communications.
There are several optional packages available for the 2018 Lexus ES 300h. Note that some options and configurations may be limited depending on your locations. The Navigation package adds a navigation system, a second USB port, Remote Touch interface, voice controls, and the Enform suite of smartphone-connected apps and concierge services. A 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system can be added to this package.
The Premium package adds several wood trim choices, driver-seat memory settings and a power-adjustable steering wheel. The Luxury package heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery and the Premium package content. Stand-alone options include upgraded headlights, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a power rear sunshade, and a steering wheel trimmed in leather and wood.
The Ultra Luxury package includes everything from the Luxury package along with ambient lighting, upgraded leather upholstery, a driver seat-cushion extender, manual rear side sunshades and passenger-seat memory settings.
Under the hood, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h is powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Together, they produce a total output of 200 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque. Power sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
In performance testing, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, a respectable time for a hybrid. EPA estimated fuel economy is excellent, at 40 mpg combined (40 city/39 highway).
The 2018 Lexus ES 300h offers an enhanced driving experience thanks to its quiet, all-electric powertrain operation at low speeds. Although slower than the V6-equipped ES 350, its acceleration in normal traffic should be enough for most buyers, especially those who understand the trade-off to improve fuel economy.
In most hybrid vehicles, regenerative braking systems that help convert brake heat into battery energy can feel unnatural and stiff compared to traditional brake. But not in the ES 300h, which feels normal and natural.
Inside, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h cabin is stylish and modern. Material richness depends on optional packages you choose, but in Lexus standard style, everything is stitched together with world-class care regardless of material.
Tall passengers will be comfortable sitting in the front seat, and the rear seat legroom is also impressive, although 6-foot or taller passengers may find the seat position slightly lower. The rear-mounted battery pack leaves only 12.1 cubic feet (compared to 15.2 cubic feet on ES 350), and the rear seat does not fold, which somewhat impede loading long items.
Controls such as a climate control system are quite easy to use, but the tech interface can be a bit confusing whether you get a standard Audio Display touchscreen with a multipurpose knob controller or the Lexus Remote Touch upgrade included with the Navigation package.
The latter was inspired by a computer mouse. Despite its sharp screen, the cursor control with this device jerky and draws too much of your attention from the road. Lexus has added several welcome menu shortcuts, but overall competitor infotainment controllers are easier to use. Tech-savvy may also be disappointed by the lack of support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Release Date and Price
The 2018 Lexus ES 300h is on sale and arriving now at dealers nationwide. Direct competition includes the Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ, and Infiniti Q50. Official pricing for the ES 300h starting at $42,815 (all prices include the $995 destination charge).