Welcome to our comprehensive review of the 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of luxury sedans and explore the outstanding features and performance capabilities that make the ES300h Sports a standout choice in its class.
- 1 2023 Lexus ES300h
- 2 Design and Exterior 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
- 3 Interior and Comfort 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
- 4 Technology and Connectivity 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
- 5 Performance and Efficiency:
- 6 Handling and Dynamics:
- 7 Safety Features 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
- 8 Pricing and Options:
- 9 Ratings Breakdown
- 10 What is it like to drive the Lexus ES300h?
- 11 Should I buy a Lexus ES300h?
2023 Lexus ES300h
It’s amusing that in a country that once considered large sedans to be the ultimate choice, the demand for sedans is diminishing as time goes by. Whether it’s an entry-level model or one with a touch of luxury like the 2023 Lexus ES300h, the market for non-SUV passenger transport is shrinking.
As recently as 2020, Lexus had a range of four sedans: ES, IS, GS, and LS. Fast forward to 2023 and only the ES and LS remain, with the others (and the RC coupe) succumbing to the allure of crossover SUVs.
Lexus ES sedans are frequently seen serving as hired chauffeur cars for transportation to and from Australia’s airports. Offering a level of comfort slightly above mainstream models like the Toyota Camry, but not quite reaching the extravagance of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine, the Lexus ES strikes a balance between passenger comfort and amenities while keeping costs in check.
However, for the rest of the Australian new-car-buying public, are we missing out on something by shifting our focus to sports utility vehicles? I’ve taken another look at the 2023 Lexus ES300 Hybrid to explore what this mid-sized sedan has to offer in 2023.
Design and Exterior 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
The 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury showcases a sleek and sophisticated design that exudes elegance from every angle. Its bold spindle grille, flanked by striking LED headlights, instantly grabs attention on the road. The aerodynamic bodylines and sculpted profile not only enhance its visual appeal but also contribute to its exceptional fuel efficiency. The ES300h Sports Luxury stands on 18-inch alloy wheels, which perfectly complement its sporty stance.
Interior and Comfort 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
Step inside the ES300h Sports Luxury, and you will be greeted by a world of opulence and comfort. The cabin is meticulously crafted with premium materials and exquisite attention to detail. Plush leather seats, adorned with contrast stitching, provide the epitome of luxury and ensure a comfortable ride for both driver and passengers.
The driver-centric cockpit offers easy access to all controls and features an ergonomic design that enhances driving pleasure. With ample legroom and headroom in both the front and rear seats, the ES300h Sports Luxury guarantees a spacious and comfortable journey for everyone on board.
Step inside the ES300h’s interior and it feels like stepping into the comfort of a luxurious old sitting room. There are no modern, tricky design features, no austere metal finishes, and no complex lighting arrangements – just classic woodgrain, leather, and plush carpets.
The cabin of the car is starting to look outdated compared to its German counterparts, but it still offers a high level of comfort. As is typical for a Lexus, the contoured seats provide a nice level of support and the seat base itself is soft and comfortable.
However, there isn’t much adjustability, and I, being tall, would have preferred if the seat could go lower. But I don’t think it would be a problem for drivers under 193cm tall. On the other hand, the steering wheel can be adjusted electrically, allowing for a comfortable and well-positioned driving experience.
The materials and build quality are of a high standard, and there are no obvious signs of creaking or flexing from the panels, trim pieces, or instrumentation. I especially like the plush pile carpet floor mats.
For a medium-to-large passenger car, I was surprised to find that storage space is not a highlight. There is a dual-hinge center console bin that includes a wireless phone charger, but other than that, there is only a deep void below the gear selector for drinks and a lidded cubby at the top of the center console. I struggled to find quick and easy places to store my wallet and phone.
While the air-conditioning system is easy to control with prominent buttons on the dash, it is simply too powerful. It seems to be a common problem with Toyota-Lexus vehicles, but I had to set the cabin temperature at 26–27 degrees Celsius just to stop the system from blowing cold air in my face.
The second row of seats has been well-designed for passenger comfort and offers a generous amount of legroom and headroom. The seats are as comfortable as those in the front row and can be reclined for added relaxation. The fold-down center armrest includes controls for the rear sun blind, air-conditioning, and audio system.
Further back, the boot opens electrically to a 454L space. The ES300h comes with a space-saver spare wheel.
|2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury|
|Boot volume||454L seats up|
Technology and Connectivity 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
Lexus has equipped the ES300h Sports Luxury with state-of-the-art technology to ensure a connected and convenient driving experience. The centerpiece of the dashboard is a large 12.3-inch touchscreen display that houses the intuitive Lexus Enform infotainment system. With Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity, you can seamlessly integrate your smartphone with the vehicle’s multimedia system.
To enhance safety and convenience, the ES300h Sports Luxury features a host of advanced driver-assistance systems. These include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, among others. With these technologies at your disposal, you can enjoy a safer and more confident drive.
Having recently spent time in Lexus’s range of newer products with updated infotainment systems, I was disappointed to see the old cumbersome 12.3-inch infotainment unit on the dash of this ES.
However, this should not be the case. Lexus ES models built from late 2022 should be delivered with the Toyota group’s new 12.3-inch infotainment unit, which features a new design and layout. It also eliminates the troublesome touchpad, the experience of which is detailed below.
Regarding the previous-generation infotainment system I tested, although it now has touch functionality, the icons have not been enlarged, making it difficult to use with your fingers while on the move. The finicky touchpad is used to control the screen in other ways, and while it gets the job done, it is not a user-friendly experience.
The display graphics and map presentation are not particularly impressive and would benefit from being updated to match Lexus’s newer products.
One aspect that I continue to support is the Mark Levinson sound system. It is one of my favorites in the entire automotive market due to its sonorous boom and high fidelity.
The ES range is compatible with Lexus Connected Services, although newer Lexus models offer a wider range of services. Using a paired smartphone, you can access information about the car’s fuel level, recent trip statistics, location (including stolen vehicle tracking), and status of doors or windows being open. However, you cannot remotely unlock or start the car, or send navigation destinations to the navigation system, for instance.
Performance and Efficiency:
Under the hood, the 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury boasts a hybrid powertrain that combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. This setup delivers a total output of 215 horsepower, providing ample power for both city driving and highway cruising. The ES300h Sports Luxury accelerates smoothly and effortlessly, thanks to its seamless transition between gasoline and electric power.
One of the key advantages of the hybrid powertrain is its exceptional fuel efficiency. The ES300h Sports Luxury achieves an impressive EPA-estimated 44 mpg combined, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a luxury sedan that is kinder to the environment and saves on fuel costs.
Handling and Dynamics:
While the ES300h Sports Luxury prioritizes comfort and luxury, it does not compromise on handling and dynamics. The vehicle’s suspension system strikes the perfect balance between a smooth ride and responsive handling. The precise steering and well-tuned suspension ensure confident cornering and a comfortable ride over various road surfaces.
Lexus has also incorporated several driving modes in the ES300h Sports Luxury to cater to different preferences. Choose between Eco mode for maximum fuel efficiency, Normal mode for everyday driving, or Sport mode for a more engaging and spirited driving experience. These modes allow you to tailor the driving dynamics to suit your preferences and the road conditions.
Safety Features 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports:
Safety is paramount in the ES300h Sports Luxury, and Lexus has equipped this vehicle with an array of advanced safety features. In addition to the aforementioned driver-assistance systems, the ES300h Sports Luxury includes a comprehensive airbag system, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control.
The Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 adds an extra layer of protection, incorporating features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and traffic sign recognition. With these safety features working in tandem, the ES300h Sports Luxury provides peace of mind to both the driver and passengers.
The Lexus ES was last awarded a full five stars by ANCAP in 2018. The validity of this rating will expire by the end of 2024.
Breaking down the score, the ES achieved 91 percent for adult occupant protection, 86 percent for child occupant protection, 90 percent for pedestrian safety, and 76 percent for safety assist systems.
|2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury|
|ANCAP rating||Five stars (tested 2018)|
|Safety report||Link to ANCAP report|
Pricing and Options:
The 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury is available with various optional packages to enhance your driving experience. These packages may include features such as a Mark Levinson premium audio system, a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, and a hands-free power trunk. The pricing for the ES300h Sports Luxury starts at $46,500 and can increase based on the selected options.
How much does the Lexus ES300h cost in Australia?
It’s surprising to find that the Lexus ES, which is roughly in the same class as luxury sedans such as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Audi A6, begins at $61,620 before on-road costs. This pricing puts it on the same tier as cars from the class below, like the 3 Series, C-Class, and A4, making the ES something of a segment straddler.
For that price, you’ll be getting a non-hybrid ES250 Luxury variant. However, in this review, we’ll be discussing the flagship ES300h Sports Luxury, which costs $80,170 before ORCs.
Within Lexus’s own range, the ES sits below the fully-fledged LS luxurious limousine, and its high-riding SUV alternative could be the larger Lexus RX.
Both engine levels – ES250 and ES300h – can be had with various trim levels, including Luxury and F Sport. However, it’s only the ES300h that comes with the Sports Luxury package.
This package includes equipment such as adaptive LED headlights, semi-aniline leather, woodgrain trim inlays, three-zone climate control, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
The powertrain combines a naturally aspirated 131kW/221Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to produce a combined output of 160kW. All power is sent through a continuously variable transmission to the front wheels only.
All colors, except one, cost $1750, so hopefully budget-savvy buyers like black.
|Key details||2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury|
|Price||$80,170 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Sonic Quartz|
|Options||Premium paint – $1750|
|Price as tested||$81,920 plus on-road costs|
|Drive-away price||$89,136 (Melbourne)|
|Rivals||Genesis G70 | Mazda 6 | BMW 5 Series|
What is it like to drive the Lexus ES300h?
When driving a Lexus sedan, one expects a refined, comfortable, and quiet experience. While the Lexus ES300h does deliver in these three areas, it falls slightly short of my expectations.
While the windows are double-glazed, they do let in a significant amount of wind noise while driving on the freeway. This issue is even more pronounced when the sunroof is open. Overall, the ride quality is well composed and effectively handles minor imperfections, but larger undulations can still be felt in the cabin. This is especially noticeable when driving on the freeway, as the car tends to get knocked around to some extent.
Another issue that detracts from the car’s overall refinement is the transition between regenerative energy capture and friction braking when applying the brakes. When coming to a stop at a red light, there is a sudden jolt as the calipers take over and complete the braking process.
These were the main drawbacks I experienced with the Lexus ES, but the other aspects of its on-the-road experience are well-suited to its price and positioning. Although the hybrid system only powers the front wheels, there is no need for additional power, and the car reliably puts power down to the ground.
According to the spec sheet, the combined power output is 160kW, which may not be particularly impressive, but the acceleration for overtaking is immediate and strong. Even starting from a standstill, the ES300h moves off the line swiftly and reaches speed without any fuss. The continuously variable automatic transmission does not display the typical rubber-band characteristics we have come to expect; instead, it operates smoothly and quietly.
The wood-grained steering wheel feels nice to hold, but it lacks in terms of providing feedback or a sense of connection with the road. However, this is not a major concern in a luxury sedan. Rather, its light and airy qualities are appreciated when maneuvering the nearly 5-meter-long body into a parking space.
|Key details||2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury|
|Engine||2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol with electric motor|
|Power||131kW @ 5700rpm petrol
|Torque||221Nm @ 3600–5200rpm petrol
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Continuously variable automatic transmission|
|Spare tyre type||Space-saver spare|
Should I buy a Lexus ES300h?
Although the Lexus ES300h may not generate much excitement or awe, it delivers exactly what you would expect – a supremely comfortable sedan with high-quality materials and a range of luxurious features.
Notable mentions include the impressive 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, the smooth and comfortable ride, and the impressive ambiance in the rear seats.
However, it is true that the Lexus ES is being outshined by newer alternatives that, although more expensive, offer more advanced technology and design in their interiors. While it is certainly a step up from its Toyota Camry counterpart, I don’t believe it justifies being twice as expensive.
In conclusion, the 2023 Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury redefines what a luxury sedan can offer. With its stunning design, plush interior, advanced technology, impressive performance, and comprehensive safety features, it presents a compelling proposition for those seeking the perfect blend of luxury and efficiency.
Whether you’re looking for a comfortable daily commuter or a stylish vehicle for long drives, the ES300h Sports Luxury delivers on all fronts. Visit your nearest Lexus dealership to experience firsthand the exceptional craftsmanship and innovation that make the ES300h Sports Luxury a true masterpiece on wheels.