Lexus ES 300h — A lot of luxury car for the money

By David Finkelstein

I had to look twice at the manufactures suggested retail pricing for the 2016 Lexus ES 300h Luxury Hybrid Sedan that was my test car for the week. The MSRP stickered out at just $40,920. And that's with countless extras included. For a premium automobile with an attractive retail price, coupled with amazing fuel mileage, this remarkable automobile is clearly a hit on many fronts.

The EPA fuel mileage numbers are 40-MPG is city driving and 39-MPG when operating it on the open highways. For a midsize sedan to achieve those notable gas mileage numbers is a feat in itself.

Additionally, Lexus has been a leader in the luxury hybrid arena for over a decade. As a matter of fact, the 2016 ES 300h is one of a family of six Lexus hybrid models it currently offers to consumers.

There have been a number of design changes in both the interior and exterior that make the ES 300h more appealing than ever. This is all coupled with additional safety enhancement including 10 airbags plus positive changes in the car's multimedia and connectivity technology area.

This should broaden the ES's appeal to motorists with varying lifestyles. The outgoing previous generation ES 300h was already showcased with the Lexus spindle signature front grille assembly, however for '16 it gets even bolder with it's design language, framed by an elegant satin chrome trim piece. And new standard brightly lit LED headlights give the ES 300h a more distinctive face, day or night.

A fully redesigned front fascia puts the fog lights at the corners to accentuate the car's wide stance. This “wider stance” design direction isn't new within the auto industry but it really stands out in the forefront on this model.

At the cars rear, there is a brand DNA likeness affinity to their high-end flagship LS sedan with it's distinctive L-theamed taillights. New and exclusive are attractive 17-inch alloy wheels and four new exterior colors to help set this newest model apart from the previous version.

Additionally, the exterior colors are included with the use of advanced self-healing clear coat outer surface paint technology. Of the colors in their palette, the autumn shimmer (a light brown) has great curb appeal that will captivate any lookie-lou. The self-healing clear coat was developed to help mask minor scratches and hopefully avoid a trip to the paint or body shop after a sharp object makes contact with the car's colored surface.

In the Lexus hybrid tradition, the ES 300h also comes with an integrated trunk deck lip spoiler, hidden exhaust tail pipe outlets and blue hybrid badging.

The use of their Lexus Hybrid Drive system is as seamless and transparent as can be! Let's face it, some hybrid systems have a jerky mechanical tendency to their idle stop/start technology that makes the overall experience less than welcomed. The system combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with an electric motor to generate some 200 total system horsepower. It will run on it's electric motor or gas engine alone, or a combination of both, based on the driving situation.

The electronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a further contributor to the car’s smooth demeanor. The driver can tailor his operating and performance needs by choosing from among four modes: Normal, Sport, Eco and EV.

Besides the usage of numerous airbags, there is an optional Lexus Safety System+ Package. It combines the Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert system helps detect vehicles in side blind spots and alert the driver to rear cross traffic when backing out of a parking space.

New interior colors and soft-touch materials along with silver-trimmed piano black door switch plates are among the welcomed details that give the car a richer appearance and feel. The new steering wheel and shift knob has a sportier look and feel. Standard are 10-way adjustable power front seats; automatic climate control; NuLuxe perforated upholstery; a power tilt-and-slide moonroof; power-adjustable outside mirrors with turn signals and defoggers; remote-linked power window and moonroof opening and Lexus Personalized Settings to customize select electronic functions.

I would agree with their marking direction — that is to say, the Premium, Luxury and Ultra Luxury Packages present a sensible tiered approach to adding an optional higher level of amenities. Display Audio features are viewed in a seven-inch screen and includes HD Radio, Bluetooth audio, automatic phone book transfer, a vehicle information display and complimentary traffic and weather data provided via HD Radio.

With the navigation option comes the Lexus Enform App Suite which is a veritable in-car personal concierge service. The enjoyable extra 40-inches of rear seat leg room is quite desirable for this size automobile. The optional Mark Levinson Premium Sound system powers the cars 15 speakers with 835-watts of high end fidelity.

ES's front suspension system employs opposite-wound coil springs to help enhance straight-line driving stability and improved road dynamics. A higher level of body rigidity is accomplished through lightweight, high tensile strength steel, added bracing and more spot welds then offered on the previous generation model.

The basic limited warranty coverage is for 48-months/50,000 miles, which also includes roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles. The powertrain and restraint system warranty is for 72 months/70,000 miles of coverage.