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2021 Lexus ES Hybrid Review

The Lexus ES Hybrid slots near the bottom of our luxury hybrid and electric car rankings. It’s not a bad car, but as the only pure hybrid in a class full of plug-ins and electric vehicles, it struggles to match the fuel economy and brisk acceleration of its rivals.

Pros & Cons

  • Large trunk
  • Spacious, handsome cabin
  • Gentle ride
  • Above-average predicted reliability rating
  • Frustrating infotainment controls
  • Less sporty than rivals

New for 2021

  • Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert now standard in Luxury trim

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 7.2
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Lexus ES Hybrid?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Lexus ES Hybrid a Good Car?

Yes, the Lexus ES 300h is a good car. That’s true whether you consider it against other luxury hybrid and electric cars or other luxury midsize cars. Outside of frustrating infotainment controls, the ES 300h has no major weaknesses. In fact, it stands out for its refined ride, premium cabin, and above-average predicted reliability rating. Compared to other hybrids, this Lexus also has decent mpg ratings and a large trunk.

You may also be interested in the nonhybrid Lexus ES, which we review separately.

Why You Can Trust Us: 17 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this Lexus in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions with 17 professional reviews.

This 2021 Lexus ES 300h review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2019.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Lexus ES Hybrid?

Outside of its hard-to-use infotainment controls, the Lexus ES Hybrid is a well-rounded model. However, it’s almost always worth shopping around. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is nearly as fuel-efficient and similarly sized as the Lexus, but it has a lower retail price. If you like the Lexus ES 300h but don’t need a hybrid, consider the nonhybrid Lexus ES, which can be had with features like all-wheel drive or a V6 engine.

Find a 2021 Lexus ES Hybrid for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Lexus ES Hybrid: What's the Difference?

Lexus made only minor changes to the 2021 ES Hybrid. For 2021, previously optional safety features such as blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are now standard in the midlevel Luxury trim.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 ES Hybrid »

Here are the key changes for the Lexus ES 300h over the last few years:

  • 2018: Lexus Enform Connect Services made complimentary for 10 years
  • 2019: fully redesigned with 15-horsepower bump, improved fuel economy, retuned suspension, more passenger and cargo space, and improved interior materials; Lexus Safety System 2.0+ added to standard features list
  • 2020: gained standard Android Auto
  • 2021: more driver assistance features now standard in higher trims

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 ES Hybrid, 2019 ES Hybrid, and 2020 ES Hybrid reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Lexus ES Hybrid Cost?

The 2021 Lexus ES 300h has a starting MSRP of $41,810. That’s roughly average for a luxury hybrid sedan.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus ES Hybrid Versus the Competition

Lexus ES Hybrid vs. Toyota Avalon Hybrid

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a great sedan in our hybrid and electric car rankings. It shares many similarities with the Lexus. Both hybrids have the same powertrain, similar cargo capacities, and comparable mpg estimates, with the Lexus winning out by a fraction in the latter two. However, the Toyota has a more intuitive infotainment system, more standard driver-assistance features, and a more affordable starting price by around $4,800. Go for the Toyota.

Compare the ES Hybrid and Avalon Hybrid »

Lexus ES Hybrid vs. Lexus ES

There are some commonalities between the Lexus ES and its hybrid counterpart, but there are also some key differences. The Lexus ES offers all-wheel drive, which cannot be had in the hybrid. The V6 Lexus ES has more power and swifter acceleration, and it is offered in a sport-tuned ES 350 F Sport trim. If you don’t care about a hybrid powertrain or better mpg ratings, then the Lexus ES is the sedan for you.

Compare the ES Hybrid and ES »

Compare the ES Hybrid, Avalon Hybrid, and ES »

ES Hybrid Interior: Luxurious, Spacious, and Comfortable

ES Hybrid Cargo Space

With 16.7 cubic feet of space, this vehicle has a large trunk. That’s true compared to other luxury hybrid and electric cars and to other luxury midsize sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Unusual for a hybrid, this Lexus has the same amount of space as its gas-only counterpart, the nonhybrid Lexus ES. A pass-through connecting the trunk and rear seat comes standard, and a hands-free trunk lid is available.

How Many People Does the ES Hybrid Seat?

This sedan accommodates five people. Regardless of where you sit, you’ll find a well-cushioned and supportive seat with ample head- and legroom. Further bolstering the ES 300h’s appeal is its quiet, insulated cabin.

Synthetic leather upholstery and 10-way power-adjustable front seats are standard. Upgrades include genuine leather or premium leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and a 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. The steering wheel can be upgraded too, with wood and leather trim, power adjustments, and heating.

ES Hybrid and Child Car Seats

The Lexus ES 300h has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

ES Hybrid Interior Quality

Impressive fit and finish, as well as an abundance of high-end materials, leave the ES 300h’s cabin feeling classy. Higher trims get wood accents and other premium flourishes.

ES Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Using the Remote Touch infotainment interface can be a real headache. The mouselike touchpad is hard to use while driving because it takes your attention away from the road. Even the standard smartphone connectivity can be obtuse, as performing functions like selecting a playlist prove challenging.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch display, a Remote Touchpad controller, Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, satellite radio, a 10-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Available infotainment features: a 12.3-inch display, wireless device charging, navigation, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system
  • Additional standard features: a moonroof and dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a panoramic glass roof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay?, What Is Android Auto?, and What Is Amazon Alexa Auto?

Read more about interior »

ES Hybrid Performance: Decent for a Hybrid

ES Hybrid Engine

Powering every ES 300h is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a pair of electric motors. Together, they produce 215 horsepower. Also standard is a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

It may not bolt off the line the way some all-electric competitors do, but the Lexus ES 300h's powertrain is more than capable of handling daily driving. Launching from a stop is decently quick, and the powertrain is generally quiet, except under hard acceleration.

ES Hybrid Gas Mileage

The 2021 Lexus ES Hybrid earns good EPA fuel economy ratings of 43 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway.

ES Hybrid Ride and Handling

This Lexus opts for comfort over agility, providing a serene ride on pavement. That’s not to say it’s unwieldy. Handling may not be as sharp as with the BMW 5 Series, but it’s composed nonetheless, helping this vehicle hold its own on curvy roads. Unlike some hybrids, the ES 300h’s brakes feel smooth and natural during operation, and gasoline-electric power transitions are seamless. Front-wheel drive is standard.

Read more about performance »

ES Hybrid Reliability

Is the Lexus ES Hybrid Reliable?

The 2021 Lexus ES 300h has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

Lexus ES Hybrid Warranty

Lexus backs the ES Hybrid with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty for the hybrid system.

Read more about reliability »

ES Hybrid Safety

ES Hybrid Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Lexus ES 300h an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not evaluated the 2021 Lexus ES 300h as of this writing.

ES Hybrid Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Road sign recognition
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane trace assist
  • Lane departure warning

Available advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rear pedestrian detection
  • Head-up display
  • Surround-view parking camera system

Read more about safety »

ES Hybrid Dimensions and Weight

The ES Hybrid is 16.3 feet long. It has a curb weight of 3,730 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is 4,740 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Lexus ES Hybrid Built?

Lexus builds the 2021 ES Hybrid in Japan.

Which Lexus ES Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

Lexus makes the 2021 ES Hybrid in three trim levels: base, Luxury, and Ultra Luxury. Every ES Hybrid has a lithium-ion battery pack, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), a gasoline inline-four engine, two electric motors, and front-wheel drive.

The well-equipped base trim is a decent choice for most shoppers, and it’s available with just about every feature you can get in higher trims. A few options can be added throughout the lineup, such as a panoramic glass roof, wireless device charging, a rear spoiler, a head-up display, adaptive headlights, and an adaptive variable suspension.

For more options, consider the nonhybrid Lexus ES. It comes in several trim levels, including the sport-tuned F Sport, and, new for the 2021 model year, the all-wheel drive ES 250.

Lexus ES Hybrid 300h

The entry-level Lexus ES 300h has a starting MSRP of $41,810. It comes with an 8-inch infotainment display, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, Lexus’ Remote Touch controller, a 10-speaker stereo, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. NuLuxe synthetic leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, and alloy wheels are also standard.

Plenty of driver assistance features are included too. The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 comes with a pre-collision warning and braking system, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane trace assist, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and road sign recognition.

The Premium package ($1,375) adds a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The Navigation package ($1,820) adds a 12.3-inch display and a navigation system, and the Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio package ($2,900) combines that with a 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo.

There are also several individual options, such as blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert ($500) and a hands-free trunk lid ($550).

Lexus ES Hybrid Luxury

The Lexus ES 300h Luxury gains the contents of the Premium package, as well as blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, genuine leather upholstery, a wood-and-leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and larger alloy wheels. The Luxury retails for $47,010.

Lexus ES Hybrid Ultra Luxury

Rounding out this luxury sedan’s lineup is the Ultra Luxury. It gains rear pedestrian detection, a surround-view parking camera system, a hands-free power trunk lid, perforated semi-aniline leather seats, a heated steering wheel, and the Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio package. Ultra Luxury models have a starting price of $50,810.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

See 2021 Lexus ES Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

There’s a lot to like about the 2021 Lexus ES Hybrid. The only true hybrid in the luxury hybrid and electric car class has a comfortable ride, a spacious cabin, a large trunk, and a good predicted reliability rating. It's not a sports sedan, but it appeals with its capable powertrain, composed handling, and decent mpg ratings. However, the Lexus ES 300h isn’t as efficient as its electric-car rivals, and its infotainment controller is a bear to use.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Quiet and comfortable, the 2021 ES 300h can pamper as much as the ES 350, but with the added benefit of fuel economy that’s almost as good as the frugal … Kia Niro. An extra bonus is that the battery pack is below the rear seats, so trunk space is the same as the non-hybrid ES 350." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Despite a certain element of entertainment to the 2021 ES, most driving enthusiasts are probably already on their way to a BMW dealer. So that means exploring the luxury side. In which case, seriously consider the hybrid. A plush conveyance with the ability to achieve 44 mpg is an attractive proposition. It could save enough on gas to recoup the 300h’s modest price premium within three years – and make fewer trips to the gas station." -- Autotrader
  • "Overall, the 2019 Lexus ES is a significantly better car than before, with higher-fidelity handling, [a] strong complement of safety features and a nicer cabin. I wouldn't go so far as to call the new ES truly sporty, but it is more confidence inspiring." -- CNET (2019)
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