2018 Lexus ES Hybrid

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MSRP: $41,820 - 41,820

2018 Lexus ES Hybrid Review

The 2018 Lexus ES Hybrid has a midpack ranking in the luxury midsize car class because of its dull, uninspiring performance. Otherwise, this is a fine luxury car that features a serene cabin and an outstanding reputation for reliability and safety.

Pros & Cons

  • Elegant, comfortable cabin
  • Above-average predicted reliability score
  • Outstanding fuel economy rating
  • Silky smooth ride


  • Burdensome infotainment system with distracting control pad
  • Trunk size is among the smallest in the class


Is the Lexus ES Hybrid a Good Car?

The Lexus ES 300h is a good car as long as you're not looking for mind-blowing performance behind the wheel. It has a track record of solid reliability in the luxury midsize sedan class. That dependability is complemented by excellent crash test scores and a 2018 IIHS Top Safety Pick designation. The ES 300h also boasts great fuel economy estimates for a vehicle this size. This car’s excellent combination of quality and value is why we named it a finalist for our 2018 Best Luxury Midsize Car for the Money award. 

Should I Buy the Lexus ES Hybrid?

Luxury shoppers that prioritize value and well-made cars will definitely appreciate the Lexus ES 300h. You should consider it, even if you weren’t looking for a 40-mpg hybrid sedan. This car packs a rich array of luxury amenities and advanced safety technology into one complete package – all for a mid-range retail price for the class.

If you decide the ES 300h isn't for you, there are plenty of other alternatives both in and out of the Lexus/Toyota stable. Most Lexus luxury sedans offer a hybrid variation, or you could check out the Toyota Avalon Hybrid. It’s lighter on price but bigger on space. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is another hybrid in this price range to consider.

Compare the ES Hybrid, GS Hybrid, and Avalon Hybrid »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus ES Hybrid?

There were no major changes to the ES Hybrid for 2018, so you can likely save money by shopping for a nearly identical 2017 model. You can probably save even more money with older models, but there were some changes year to year to keep in mind. The 2016 ES Hybrid received updated exterior styling, and the Lexus Safety System+ Package was made available. That package was then made standard in all 2017 models. 

To research some other models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Lexus ES Hybrid. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Lexus ES Hybrid »

We Did the Research for You: 32 Reviews Analyzed

Our Lexus ES Hybrid review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 32 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision. This 2018 Lexus ES Hybrid review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2013 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Lexus ES Hybrid Cost?

The Lexus ES 300h hybrid has a base price of $41,820. Lexus also offers the nonhybrid ES 350, which costs $38,950 (read more about the ES 350 in our separate review). That's a pretty reasonable upcharge for a hybrid powertrain. Given the ES 300h's $750 in annual fuel savings compared to the ES 350 (as estimated by the EPA), it will take you just under four years to break even. For great savings at your local Lexus dealer on both ES models, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus ES Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus ES Hybrid or Lincoln MKZ Hybrid?

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a great value. You can get its hybrid powertrain in any trim level for no extra cost. That’s noteworthy because the MKZ’s starting price is about $6,000 lower than that of the ES Hybrid. Even the base model comes with the SYNC 3 infotainment system, which earns praise for its ease of use. However, the MKZ Hybrid doesn’t have quite the high-class fit and finish of the ES 300h, but you'll get a couple more cubic feet of trunk space with the Lincoln. If you want a more affordable hybrid, give the MKZ a try. But if you don’t mind spending more for the extra luxury, stick with the ES Hybrid.

Which Is Better: Lexus ES Hybrid or Toyota Avalon Hybrid?

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is a large car that delivers more passenger and seating room than the ES Hybrid. It undercuts the ES Hybrid's base price by a couple thousand dollars. Still, its standard features include navigation, leather seats, and a user-friendly touch screen. None of those amenities come standard in the ES Hybrid. You can step up to the range-topping Avalon Hybrid Limited for an even better interior, with added luxuries like perforated leather seats, tri-zone automatic climate control and an 11-speaker JBL audio system. The Avalon also has slightly better performance overall, rounding out the reason why it’s a better car (and a more enticing deal) than the ES Hybrid.

Compare the ES Hybrid, MKZ, and Avalon Hybrid »

ES Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the ES Hybrid Seat?

There's lots of room to stretch out inside the five-seat ES 300h. Its front seats are spacious, and its back seat has more legroom than most class competitors (including the Lexus GS Hybrid). Lexus' synthetic leather upholstery looks and feels high-grade, and genuine leather seats are available if you want to upgrade.

ES Hybrid and Car Seats

Caregivers will appreciate how easy it is to install a child safety seat using the ES 300h's LATCH hardware. The sedan comes with three tether anchors and two sets of lower anchors, all of which are clearly marked and easy to access.

ES Hybrid Interior Quality

The ES 300h is nicely finished inside. First-rate materials – like supple synthetic leather – fill the cabin. Lexus offers some appealing options that boost the ambiance beyond its low-$40,000 price tag, including bamboo trim, mood lighting, and a premium 15-speaker surround-sound audio system.

ES Hybrid Cargo Space

The ES 300h has a 12.1-cubic-foot trunk, which is one of the smallest among luxury midsize cars. Its placement around the hybrid battery is convenient, but the lack of folding rear seats and a pass-through make it hard to accommodate oversized items.

ES Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The ES Hybrid's infotainment system includes eight speakers, a 7-inch display screen, and voice commands via Siri Eyes Free. The interface is difficult and distracting to use. A mouselike pad mounted between the seats manages most of the system's settings. Using this gadget demands too much attention from the driver and pulls their eyes off the road. Options include navigation, as well as smartphone integration via the Enform App Suite.

Read more about interior »

ES Hybrid Performance

ES Hybrid Engine: Peppy Fuel Sipper

The ES 300h's hybrid powertrain offers a nice blend of power and fuel efficiency. Its setup comprises a four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a CVT (a type of automatic transmission). For a little extra oomph, switch the drive mode to Sport, enabling performance that's almost on par with the nonhybrid ES 350.

ES Hybrid Gas Mileage: Outstanding Fuel Economy

The ES 300h has a class-leading fuel economy rating, getting 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. In comparison, the ES 350 gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway.

ES Hybrid Ride and Handling: Pleasant and Predictable

Tuned to emphasize passenger comfort, the ES 300h exhibits very little body roll and sails along the road with a silky (but not unpleasantly floaty) suspension. Handling is otherwise what you'd expect from an easygoing touring sedan.

Read more about performance »

ES Hybrid Reliability

Is the Lexus ES Hybrid Reliable?

The 2018 ES Hybrid receives a predicted reliability score of four out of five from J.D. Power. A rating of three is considered average for all new cars.

ES Hybrid Warranty

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

Read more about reliability »

ES Hybrid Safety

ES Hybrid Crash Test Results

The ES Hybrid has solid crash test scores. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives this Lexus a five-star overall rating. It receives four out of five stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests, and five stars in the side crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the ES Hybrid top scores for five individual crash tests, also naming it a 2018 IIHS Top Safety Pick. IIHS notes that the ES Hybrid offers Superior front crash prevention and Acceptable headlight performance.

ES Hybrid Safety Features

Standard safety technology in the 2018 ES 300h includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, a rearview camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. A blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and parking sensors are available.

Read more about safety »

Which Lexus ES Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

Picking the right ES Hybrid trim is easy: There's only one. The front-wheel-drive ES 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a single electric motor paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. It comes with goodies like a 7-inch infotainment display, an eight-speaker audio system, a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, and satellite radio. Its Lexus Safety System+ is a suite of standard safety features consisting of a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. A proximity key, a rearview camera, and rain-sensing windshield wipers are also standard. The base price of the ES 300h is $41,820.

Lexus offers a few ways to customize your ES 300h. If you want to upgrade from NuLuxe seats (Lexus' synthetic leather), select the Luxury package. In addition to its perforated leather-trimmed interior, this package adds heated and ventilated front seats, along with inlay materials such as bamboo and bird's eye maple. Other bundled options include the Navigation package, a Mark Levinson Audio package, and the Ultra Luxury package.

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 2018 Lexus ES Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

If your definition of luxury includes pampering and peace of mind, the ES 300h is an excellent match for you. It leaves corner-carving abilities to more athletic sedans (like the Lexus GS Hybrid), instead offering a cabin that's quiet, smooth, and sumptuous. Earning 40 mpg combined, this fuel sipper is also a smart buy for commuters. Spend some time playing with the infotainment system, though. Some find it diverts too much of the driver's attention from the road.

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

  • "You definitely get a lot of car for your money with the ES 300h. It costs just a bit more than the related Toyota Avalon Hybrid, but the Lexus is undeniably the more luxurious of the two. That doesn't mean the ES 300h is perfect – you do give up some functionality when you upgrade. We're specifically referring to the Lexus' Remote Touch infotainment controller, which is frustrating to use even for seasoned tech veterans. Overall, though, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h should easily satisfy shoppers who want a fuel-efficient and roomy luxury sedan." -- Edmunds
  • "Among midsize-luxury sedans, the 2018 Lexus ES 350 is about the closest thing to a sure bet. With its outstanding reliability and resale record, long list of luxury features and sophisticated styling, the 2018 ES is hard to fault. In hybrid form, the 2018 ES 300h delivers up to 40 mpg without any measurable loss in performance. Of course, most ES buyers flock to this sedan not for its world-class handling or sizzling off-the-line acceleration, but for its allegiance to the idea a luxury car should be as quiet and comfortable as it is responsive. Sure, you can get better performance from a BMW 5 Series or Cadillac CTS, but you won't find the same sense of serenity on the open road." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Sit back and enjoy the 2017 Lexus ES for what it is -- an entry-level luxury sedan that's slightly larger than midsize. It's not an on-the-limit driver's machine or an over-the-top status symbol, but it's a car with an understated sense of classiness, comfort, safety and serenity. Owners prefer to enjoy the cabin's appointments rather than the next corner, and that's perfectly fine. The ES provides generous space for back-seat passengers and plenty of room for occupants up front." -- Autotrader (2017)
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