It doesn't seem like that long ago when hybrid cars were novelties for early adopters. Now they are commonplace, aimed primarily at the midprice family market. Where hybrids are in short supply is the entry-level luxury class, and that makes the 2017 Lexus ES 300h somewhat unique. The hybrid ES prioritizes fuel economy over dynamic performance but never forgets that it is a luxury sedan. And it offers up all the comforts and amenities found in the non-hybrid, V6-powered Lexus ES.
The ES 300h is roomy and relaxing, even compared to its competition. Interior trim is excellent, fit and finish is impeccable and the backseat is generously sized. We are less enamored by the Remote Touch interface. While the idea of a computer's mouse-like interface is novel, it is not well suited for operation in a moving car. It requires too much attention be taken away from the road. If cutting-edge infotainment technology is a priority, we recommend spending plenty of time with the system during your test-drive.
Fuel economy is the ES 300h's raison d'être, and the powertrain is similar to the one found in its Toyota Camry Hybrid cousin. It utilizes a CVT transmission and is front-wheel drive. And beneath the hood is a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 mated to Toyota's proven Hybrid Synergy Drive system. This is not the most sophisticated of hybrid systems, and total system output is a mere 200 horsepower. The ES 300h accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds during our instrumented testing, which is not bad for this segment. But we don't mind giving up a little power for the sort of fuel economy the ES 300h returns. The EPA rates the Lexus ES 300h at 40 mpg combined (40 city/39 highway), a figure we were able to match in our own tests. All-electric operation at low speed enhances the trademark refinement of the ES but the cabin is even library-quiet at highway speeds. Ride quality along those highways is not as smooth as other vehicles in this class. But safety ratings for the ES are excellent.
Lexus offers the ES 300h in a single trim level that includes most of what we expect from a modern-day luxury sedan. That includes the high-quality faux-leather upholstery so prevalent in luxury cars on the market today. Additional options ? including navigation, alternate interior trim choices and genuine cowhide ? are bundled into packages. The content and availability of those packages can vary by region, however. If you're considering this fuel-efficient luxury sedan, Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Lexus ES 300h for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.