REVIEW | 2020 Lexus ES 300h is a calming antidote to our crazy world

29 January 2020 - 08:53 By Waldo Sweigers
The Lexus ES 300h is a vehicular isolation tank.
The Lexus ES 300h is a vehicular isolation tank.
Image: Supplied

It is a rushed world out there. Sliding into any of the Lexus ES 300h EX’s seats provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the best possible way.

The interior is understated and has a subtle design overall — apart from the horn-like knobs to change drive modes and traction control options. To be fair, this car isn’t one where the typical buyer would ever touch those knobs. Best left in Eco mode, it makes every trip a no-fuss affair.

The ride quality is great, even on undulating back roads. The suspension soaks up bumps incredibly well and offers occupants a luxurious ride. The front-wheel drive sedan is more comfortable than it is dynamic though. The steering is heavy and disconnected, lacking feel for the driver. It wasn’t designed to be a sports sedan.

The hybrid factor means the electric motor propels you along in complete silence in urban traffic. Once the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine starts up, the coupled CVT gearbox does a good job of keeping things quiet on the highway, but it is a tad slow to respond to overtaking urgencies.

The ES interior comes tricked out with all the toys.
The ES interior comes tricked out with all the toys.
Image: Supplied

With a combined 160kW and 221Nm output from the electric motor and petrol engine, performance is satisfactory, if not very exciting. It also uses very little fuel. A sub-6l/100km average can be expected in real-world driving conditions, impressive for a car weighing 1,740kg. The hybrid drivetrain doesn’t require manual charging. Instead, it relies on regenerative charging through the braking system of the car.

Exterior styling is conservative, but elegant. The side profile is a pleasant one, with nice flowing lines from front to rear. The big front grille provides a robust Lexus face, while the rear is a clean, yet uninspiring design.

The updated ES 300h EX may not look all that radical, but it boasts added refinement and technology that complements it substantially. The inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the ES range as standard is a welcome addition, especially considering the added bonus of free Wi-Fi in the car.

The hybrid powertrain offers decent everyday fuel consumption for such a large vehicle.
The hybrid powertrain offers decent everyday fuel consumption for such a large vehicle.
Image: Supplied

With the Lexus Premium Auto sound system included in the EX specification, the 10 speakers provide a better-than-average experience for all your aural needs. If high-fidelity sound is paramount to you, the SE specification boasts a 17-speaker Mark Levinson set-up.

The ES 300h EX is priced at R775,000, which places it nicely between the petrol-only ES 250 EX (R640,000) and the top-of-the-range ES 300h SE (R911 000). It offers all the benefits of the hybrid system without losing out on the tangible luxury items of the SE. The time I spent behind the wheel of the ES 300h EX was the most relaxing part of my day, thanks to the level of comfort, incredible ride quality and effortless use of its hybrid technology in traffic.

The large sedan is a dying breed, with people opting for their raised cousins in the form of luxury sport-utility vehicles. But if you are in the market and not hard-pressed to park on sidewalks, the Lexus ES deserves a test drive.


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