2015 Lexus ES300h & ES350 AWD
2015 Lexus ES300h $40,430 - Tested $46,995
2015 Lexus ES350 $37,550 - Tested $44,145
Lexus’ entry level IS models and bigger GS have done very well and received lots of great press. Unfortunately, they have somewhat overshadowed the ES, which to me is a great addition to the Lexus line-up. While the IS and GS both have a sportier feel to them, the ES was designed to be a more classic model to balance the two. Both the IS and GS have an aggressive stance with sharp body lines, sporty front bumpers and option to add the F sport performance package. The ES gives you a nice luxury sedan that reminds you what Lexus is known for. I had the opportunity to spend time with two ES models, the standard ES 350 3.5L V6, and the ES 300h 2.5L 4 cylinder hybrid.
When I received the Lexus ES 350, I was surprised at how clean the styling was. It didn’t have the aggressive appearance that I was used to on the IS and GS, but a very elegant luxury feel. The sleek projector headlights wrap around the fender and a medium size front grill. Though not as big as others, this bigger grill holds to the trend I’ve noticed Lexus moving towards in making the front grills slightly bigger and bolder. I really liked how the front end looked with small LED daytime running lights just below the headlights and the fog lights on the far end of the lower bumper. The ES 300h had the same exterior appearance as the ES 350.
The rest of the vehicle has smooth flow all the way through and towards the rear of the car. Now here is where there is a slight difference between the ES 350 & ES 300h. The ES 350 has a dual chrome exhaust and the ES 300h has a single exhaust aiming slightly down. The hybrid does have a small rear defuser where the ES 350 chrome dual exhaust would have come out. Both vehicles are equipped with 17’’ alloy wheels.
The interior is where Lexus concentrated on making sure they provided plenty of room with all the convenience you would like in a luxury sedan. Not only does the driver side has a 10 way power seats with lumbar support, but the passenger side does too. Plenty of leg room for both front and rear passengers. Having two young boys, this is very important to make sure we are all comfortable. Both my wife and I are tall and with our massive Britax toddler and infant seats, we tend to have to sacrifice leg room to accommodate them in most vehicles. The seats are a very soft leather with heat and cool features for both of the front passengers. Both models have a wood trim along the dash, door panel and steering wheel, though on the hybrid it’s the traditional bamboo.
The seats are comfortable but not anything spectacular. They have subtle styling and are great for long rides. The controls and accessories are pretty easy to navigate around. There is a learning curve on using the mouse to navigate through the settings on the 8’’ display screen on the dash. The piano black trim along the center console is nice and adds to the luxury look. I am not too crazy about the cup holders though. You may be able to fit a normal size cup in one but there is another located just below the climate control which will cause some problems with the same size cup or water bottle. Everything felt nice and soft, and the padded dash with double stitching along the edges is nice touch. Both the hybrid and non-hybrid models are identical with just slight differences in drive settings. Neither models have fold down rear seats, however the ES 350 does have a cut through in middle. Both cars have a good size trunk, even on the hybrid model. You do lose some space but we still had room to fit a full size stroller, golf bags and groceries.
The Lexus ES was one of the top selling vehicles in its line-up for 2014. With the newly redesigned IS & GS models targeting the younger market, it will be interesting to see what the top selling Lexus will be for the near future. The ES concentrates more on comfort and luxury, but it’s no slouch when it comes to performance. The hybrid model has a 2.5L 4 cylinder hybrid engine pushing out 200hp. With its massive 17.2 gallon gas tank, it will give you close to 700 miles on a full tank. It’s one of the highest average mpg producing hybrids in its class, averaging 39 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. I wasn’t able to get close to what they advertise since I don’t live in the burbs, considering my big city driving equals an average speed of about 15mph. There is always traffic and most of the time it’s stop and go. In these driving conditions, it really doesn’t give much time for the hybrid batteries to charge up and drive in EV mode. Those who live in the burbs or outskirts of a big city you will see the increase in mpg. That being said, it wasn’t too bad for me at all, averaging 33 mpg. I was surprised mostly on how big the gas tank was. Most hybrids I’ve been in the gas tank has been slightly small but still exceed the total miles of a non-hybrid.
The ES 350 has a 3.5L V6 pushing out 268hp. There was a big difference on the mpg from the hybrid model with average of 21mpg in city and 31 in hwy. It was close to what Lexus advertised with mpg until I drove it around the city. In the city I averaged 19 mpg and in the highway 28 mpg. It had a good amount of acceleration, but not much more than the hybrid. Between both models you really couldn’t feel the difference other than when hybrid engine kicked in. Both were really comfortable and there was minimal road noise both in the city and on the highway. They both had good handling and performance with a suspension to really absorb the beautiful roads Chicago has to offer.
Overall both vehicles are great. As a current hybrid vehicle owner, I was impressed on the mpg I received on a full size vehicle and how much cargo room I had on the hybrid. Both models have a good amount of room and the only difference really is that the non-hybrid model has a bigger trunk. Both were great traveling installing a toddler and infant seat and we had plenty of leg room and space to stretch out in both models. The car drove great and was easy to operate without having to pull out the manual. Comfortable, spacious, reliable, stylish and a good amount of power to get you through the day. Thank you Lexus for the opportunity to spend time with both ES models.