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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2015 Lexus ES 300h

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      Does Hybrid Power Make the ES More Appealing?

    Late last year, I had the chance to pilot the 2014 Lexus ES 350. In my review I said that while the new ES is a noticeable improvement over the old one, competitors such as the Buick LaCrosse have surpassed it. But Lexus has an possible ace up their sleeve and it happens to be the hybrid version of ES. Not many competitors offer a fuel efficient version, so does it give the ES an edge?

     

    What differentiates the ES 300h from the ES 350? Not much from the exterior aside from blue tint on the badge, hybrid badges on the door sills, and the"h" on the rear badge. The interior is the same aside from a new instrument cluster with an eco/power gauge and a EV mode button. One item I do have to call out on the ES 300h’s interior is the optional Bamboo trim. Not only is it sharp looking, but adds a nice touch of class to the interior.

     

    Power comes from Lexus’ Hybrid Drive system which pairs a 2.0L four-cylinder and a electric motor producing a total output of 200 horsepower. A CVT sends power to the front wheels. This powertrain seems more attune the ES’ mission of providing a smooth and quiet ride. The powertrain is able to get the vehicle moving without much stress or noise in city traffic. Merging onto freeway or trying to make a pass does reveal some noisy clatter from the engine. The CVT doesn’t help matters as the drone that plagues many CVTs when you push further down on the accelerator pedal comes in. Fuel economy for the ES 300h is rated 40 City/39 Highway/40 Combined. My week saw an average of 37 MPG. This was slightly disappointing, but at the time I was driving the ES Hybrid, temps were below freezing which would explain the drop.

     

    As for ride and handling, the ES 300h follows in the footsteps of the standard ES 350. The suspension provides a smooth ride. Any imperfections on the road are dealt with and don’t make they way into the cabin. Also not making an appearance inside the cabin is road and wind noise, Thanks to thicker windows and added insulation, the ES is a very quiet car. Helping matters is one of the smoothest transitions from hybrid power to electric power. The only way to know that the hybrid system has kicked on or off is a EV Mode light in the instrument cluster. If your planning to tackle the winding roads, then leave the ES Hybrid at home. Like the standard ES, the hybrid shows a bit of body roll and steering doesn’t have any sign of feel.

     

    If I was considering an ES, I would go for the 300h since it fits the ideals of the model - a quiet and comfortable ride paired with a somewhat upscale cabin. Add in the fuel economy and the ES 300h might be a compelling choice for those who just want something luxurious. But for almost the same price as this ES 300h, you can get into a fully loaded Toyota Avalon Hybrid which offers most of the same features as the ES, along with a much better look and a more sporty drive if you are interested in that. So while the ES 300h does give a slight edge to ES, it gets undercut by another member of the family.

     

    Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the ES300h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: ES
    Model: 300h
    Trim: N/A
    Engine: 2.5L DOHC, 16-Valve with VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor
    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT
    Horsepower @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 5,700, (Total) 200
    Torque @ RPM: (Gas) 156 @ 4,500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 40/39/40
    Curb Weight: 3,660 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka
    Base Price: $40,430
    As Tested Price: $46,995 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    Hard Disk Drive Navigation system with Backup Camera - $1,795
    Luxury Package - $1,370
    HID Headlamps - $565.00
    Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert - $500.00
    Intuitive Parking Assist - $500.00
    Power Trunk Closer - $400.00
    Bamboo & Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel - $300.00
    Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00

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    Interesting, sounds like a tad better than the ES350 but not by much.Such a bland exterior / Interior even with the wood accents, still looks 1980's to me.

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    Interesting, sounds like a tad better than the ES350 but not by much.Such a bland exterior / Interior even with the wood accents, still looks 1980's to me.

    Nice review.  We don't see a lot of Lexus around here (or any luxury brands other than  Cadillac and Lincoln), so it's nice to now how some of them compare to non luxury options like the Avalon, too.  I'm not going to lie, this sounds like a great tool to help me sell an Avalon if it is equal to or better than it's luxury sibling.  Unfortunately we just don't sell too many of those, anyway.  When we do they definitely trend towards an older crowd.  In fact I would say the current Avalon customer is basically the old image of a Buick customer, since the ES has an even homelier visage I would imagine that it would invite an even older crowd yet.  Sounds like Lexus needs to work a bit on their styling with this one.  I don't worry so much about the handling bit, this wasn't meant to be a canyon carver and I'm sure it is plenty adequate for what it's meant to be (though I would be interested in how those bits compare to it's main rivals), so from reading this and looking at pictures it seems like the visuals are the biggest knock on this car, besides the way it is undercut by the Avalon.  Great review, thanks!

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    Bamboo trim has another advantage - It is ecologically friendly because it is a highly renewable resource. Probably a big reason it is on the hybrid car.... the green conscious drivers don't have to feel bad about chopping down old-growth trees just to have wood trim in their hybrid.   I wish more auto makers would use bamboo. 

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    I really like the wood-trim used in the top of the line GS and LS models. It's some really nice stuff. I think either C/D or MT said that the wood portion of the steering wheel was the most smoothly polished wood grain they'd ever grasped with their hands. 

     

    The wood is like treated 5-6 times to get that finish. It's really an excellent trim choice for a car south of a S550 S-Class.

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    And it comes in exciting beige!

     

    Bamboo can be stained any color you might like.

     

    I meant the outside of the car.  Seems like every Camry, Avalon and ES is sold in wallpaper paste beige.   I guess to match the hearing aides of their owners.

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    Lexus owners must be a happy bunch. The reason why. There cars still looks basically the same 10 years in a row with changes so small and subtle most owners will never notice them. As is the case with this car. Pull off a little chrome, give is a semi  predator  grille and make it as plain boring and generic as ever and literally no one will ever notice. Ditto the beige exterior. That says it all!

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      4.1
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      454
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      3,062
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      7,960
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      -0.8
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      1
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      2,147
      3.6
      -0.1
      5,263
      5,029
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      29,245
      -23.4
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      72,590
      72,791
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      -0.3
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      31,392
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      77,820
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      0.0
      0.0
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      0
      0.0
      0.0
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      491
      -32.4
      -34.8
      807
      1,182
      -30.8
      -31.7
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      83
      119.9
      112.0
      347
      462
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      4,068
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      10,576
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      8,222
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      22,235
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      35,264
      -1.1
      -4.7
      81,684
      90,767
      -8.8
      -10.0
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. CAR
      70,854
      82,595
      -11.0
      -14.2
      188,017
      211,016
      -9.7
      -10.9
      CT
      0
      1
      -100
      -100
      0
      4
      -100.0
      -100.0
      IS
      1,694
      2,312
      -24.0
      -26.7
      3,884
      5,283
      -25.5
      -26.5
      RC
      422
      271
      61.5
      55.7
      963
      618
      57.9
      55.8
      ES
      4,922
      3,938
      29.6
      25.0
      11,390
      9,263
      24.6
      23.0
      GS
      394
      754
      -45.8
      -47.7
      955
      1,763
      -45.1
      -45.8
      LS
      457
      1,008
      -53.0
      -54.7
      1,404
      1,673
      -15.0
      -16.1
      LC
      141
      218
      -32.9
      -35.3
      320
      522
      -37.9
      -38.7
      LFA
      0
      0
      0
      0
      3
      1
      204
      200
      TOTAL LEXUS CAR
      8,030
      8,502
      -2.1
      -5.6
      18,919
      19,127
      0.2
      -1.1
      TOTAL TOYOTA CAR
      78,884
      91,097
      -10.2
      -13.4
      206,936
      230,130
      -8.9
      -10.1
      SIENNA
      8,351
      7,559
      14.6
      10.5
      18,616
      23,619
      -20.1
      -21.2
      C-HR
      5,676
      5,253
      12.1
      8.1
      14,521
      13,619
      8.0
      6.6
      RAV4
      33,166
      34,937
      -1.6
      -5.1
      83,820
      91,461
      -7.1
      -8.4
      FJ CRUISER
      0
      0
      0
      0
      0
      1
      -100
      -100
      VENZA
      1
      0
      0
      0
      1
      0
      0
      0
      HIGHLANDER
      20,824
      21,438
      0.7
      -2.9
      52,621
      52,882
      0.8
      -0.5
      4RUNNER
      12,510
      11,761
      10.3
      6.4
      32,829
      31,550
      5.4
      4.1
      SEQUOIA
      843
      1,006
      -13.1
      -16.2
      2,410
      2,828
      -13.7
      -14.8
      LAND CRUISER
      324
      267
      25.8
      21.3
      807
      764
      7.0
      5.6
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. SUV
      73,344
      74,662
      1.9
      -1.8
      187,009
      193,105
      -1.9
      -3.2
      TACOMA
      22,798
      20,250
      16.8
      12.6
      58,183
      53,779
      9.6
      8.2
      TUNDRA
      10,351
      10,697
      0.3
      -3.2
      25,100
      26,318
      -3.4
      -4.6
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. PICKUP
      33,149
      30,947
      11.1
      7.1
      83,283
      80,097
      5.3
      4.0
      TOTAL TOYOTA DIV. TRUCK
      114,844
      113,168
      5.2
      1.5
      288,908
      296,821
      -1.4
      -2.7
      UX
      1,776
      0
      0.0
      0.0
      3,925
      0
      0.0
      0.0
      NX
      5,633
      5,859
      -0.3
      -3.9
      13,775
      14,327
      -2.6
      -3.9
      RX
      10,967
      9,819
      15.8
      11.7
      23,529
      23,795
      0.2
      -1.1
       
      2,291
      2,329
      2.0
      -1.6
      5,429
      5,691
      -3.3
      -4.6
      552
      528
      8.4
      4.5
      1,214
      1,277
      -3.7
      -4.9
      21,219
      18,535
      18.7
      14.5
      47,872
      45,090
      7.6
      6.2
      136,063
      131,703
      7.1
      3.3
      336,780
      341,911
      -0.2
      -1.5
      27
      28
       
       
      76
      77
       
       
       
      TOYOTA U.S. SALES SUMMARY
        March 2019
       
      -- CURRENT MONTH --
      2019                          2018       DSR %
      VOL %
      -- CALENDAR YEAR TO DATE --
      2019               2018      DSR %
      VOL %
      COROLLA
      20,388
      29,245
      -27.7
      -30.3
      71,381
      72,791
      -0.6
      -1.9
      CAMRY
      33,519
      33,235
      4.6
      0.9
      81,283
      82,164
      0.2
      -1.1
      AVALON
      2,855
      4,068
      -27.2
      -29.8
      6,619
      10,576
      -36.6
      -37.4
      YARIS SD (INCL YARIS IA)
      3,947
      2,918
      40.3
      35.3
      7,710
      7,506
      4.1
      2.7
      RAV4
      12,631
      14,622
      -10.4
      -13.6
      29,472
      41,184
      -27.5
      -28.4
      VENZA
      1
      0
      0.0
      0.0
      1
      0
      0.0
      0.0
      HIGHLANDER
      20,824
      21,438
      0.7
      -2.9
      52,620
      52,882
      0.8
      -0.5
      SIENNA
      8,351
      7,559
      14.6
      10.5
      18,616
      23,619
      -20.1
      -21.2
      SEQUOIA
      843
      1,006
      -13.1
      -16.2
      2,410
      2,828
      -13.7
      -14.8
      TACOMA
      22,798
      20,250
      16.8
      12.6
      58,183
      53,779
      9.6
      8.2
      TUNDRA
      10,351
      10,697
      0.3
      -3.2
      25,100
      26,318
      -3.4
      -4.6
      ES
      3,882
      3,507
      14.8
      10.7
      8,844
      8,282
      8.2
      6.8
      RX
      9,227
      8,203
      16.6
      12.5
      19,013
      21,009
      -8.3
      -9.5
      TOTAL
      149,617
      156,748
      -1.0
      -4.5
      381,252
      402,938
      -4.1
      -5.4
      N.A VEHICLES % OF TOTAL
      69.6%
      70.4%
       
       
      70.1%
      70.4%
       
       
      TOYOTA DIV. IMPORT CAR
      10,143
      13,116
      -19.8
      -22.7
      21,022
      37,966
      -43.9
      -44.6
      LEXUS IMPORT CAR
      4,148
      4,995
      -13.9
      -17.0
      10,075
      10,845
      -5.9
      -7.1
      TOYOTA DIV NA BUILT CARS
      60,709
      69,466
      -9.4
      -12.6
      166,993
      173,037
      -2.2
      -3.5
      LEXUS NA BUILT CARS
      3,882
      3,507
      14.8
      10.7
      8,844
      8,282
      8.2
      6.8
      TOTAL TOYOTA CARS
      78,882
      91,084
      -10.2
      -13.4
      206,934
      230,130
      -8.9
      -10.1
      TOYOTA DIV. IMPORT TRUCK
      39,045
      37,596
      7.7
      3.9
      102,506
      96,211
      7.9
      6.5
      LEXUS IMPORT TRUCK
      11,992
      10,332
      20.4
      16.1
      28,859
      24,081
      21.4
      19.8
      TOYOTA DIV NA BUILT TRUCK
      75,799
      75,572
      4.0
      0.3
      186,402
      200,610
      -5.9
      -7.1
      LEXUS NA BUILT TRUCK
      9,227
      8,203
      16.6
      12.5
      19,013
      21,009
      -8.3
      -9.5
      TOTAL TOYOTA TRUCK
      136,063
      131,703
      7.1
      3.3
      336,780
      341,911
      -0.2
      -1.5
      Selling Days
      27
      28
       
       
      76
      77
       
       
         
       
        TOYOTA U.S. HYBRID SALES SUMMARY March 2019
      -- CURRENT MONTH --                                          -- CALENDAR YEAR TO DATE --
      2019             2018        DSR %                               2019                2018 DSR %
      TOYOTA PRIUS HYBRID
      5,410
      8,222
      -31.8%
      12,058
      22,235
      -45.1%
      TOYOTA COROLLA HYBRID
      743
      0
      0.0%
      753
      0
      0.0%
      TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID
      2,606
      2,125
      27.2%
      6,366
      5,303
      21.6%
      TOYOTA AVALON HYBRID
      734
      828
      -8.1%
      1,793
      1,818
      -0.1%
      TOYOTA MIRAI
      176
      83
      119.9%
      347
      462
      -23.9%
      TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID
      1,252
      1,401
      -7.3%
      3,404
      3,471
      -0.6%
      TOYOTA RAV4 HYBRID
      892
      4,128
      -77.6%
      2,829
      11,289
      -74.6%
      LEXUS ES HYBRID
      844
      388
      125.6%
      1,890
      865
      121.4%
      LEXUS GS HYBRID
      0
      2
      -100.0%
      4
      10
      -60%
      LEXUS UX HYBRID
      889
      0
      0.0%
      1,983
      0
      0
      LEXUS NX HYBRID
      891
      735
      25.70%
      2,301
      1711
      36.30%
      LEXUS RX HYBRID
      1,522
      965
      63.60%
      3,441
      2216
      57.30%
      LEXUS LS HYBRID
      15
      41
      -62.10%
      33
      68
      -50.80%
      LEXUS LC HYBRID
      4
      13
      -68%
      7
      30
      -76.40%
      LEXUS CT HYBRID
      0
      1
      -100%
      0
      4
      -100.0%
      TOTAL TMNA HYBRID
      15,978
      18,932
      -12.50%
      37,209
      49,482
      -23.80%
      TOTAL TOYOTA HYBRID
      11,813
      16,787
      -27.00%
      27,550
      44,578
      -37.40%
      TOTAL LEXUS HYBRID
      4,165
      2,145
      101.40%
      9,659
      4,904
      99.60%
       
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