2018 Lexus ES Hybrid Performance Review


Performance: 7.6

The 2018 Lexus ES Hybrid is all about relaxation, as illustrated by its performance specs. Overall, this sedan handles itself competently with tasks like merging onto the highway or traversing country roads, keeping the focus on cabin comfort rather than athletic handling. This is also one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its class.

  • "If a smooth ride and a hushed cabin are your idea of luxury, you'll find much to like in the 2018 Lexus ES 350 and ES 300h hybrid-luxury sedans." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ES 300h is faster in a straight line than its chief rival, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, but neither is as entertaining to drive as a performance-oriented plug-in such as the BMW 330e." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The ES 300h comes with a four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a continuously variable transmission, which is a type of automatic. Acceleration is decent from this 200-horsepower car (it takes about 8.1 seconds to reach 60 mph), and test drivers report that it delivers a reasonable amount of punch. The prime benefit of this powertrain is its fuel efficiency. Rated at 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, the ES 300h is one of the thriftiest in its class.

  • "This same [Sport mode] feature on the hybrid offers even more thrills, thanks in part to the added torque from the hybrid electric-motor setup. The ES 300h hybrid is actually a more aggressive driver than the gasoline-powered ES 350, although when placed in Eco mode, both throttle response and powertrain reaction feel a bit dull." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • … but 40 mpg is still remarkable for this slightly-larger-than-midsize premium-sedan segment, and there's adequate thrust for situations such as merging onto a freeway." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • Even on hybrid sedans, efficiency is only part of the story. The ES 300h accelerates to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds (far quicker in our testing than Lexus' 8.1-second claim), and full-throttle blasts feel stronger than you might expect, with the hybrid four-cylinder powertrain providing a surge of power you don't feel in the MKZ Hybrid." -- Motor Trend (2017)

Handling and Braking

The ES 300h is a front-wheel-drive sedan. Its standard Drive Mode select offers Eco/Normal, EV, and Sport settings, and there's a clear distinction between each mode. This is a laid-back hybrid, with a comfort-tuned suspension that keeps the ride relaxing.

  • "In classic Lexus fashion, the ES 300h exhibits a soft ride quality that diminishes or altogether neutralizes any jitteriness that poorly maintained roads can cause." -- Edmunds
  • "The ES soaks up road imperfections like a sponge in water, yet its driving dynamics are far from soft or disconnected." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ES remains a traditional luxury car with a creamy, tranquil ride, which is just how buyers like it. And for good reason -- with virtually every other manufacturer pushing the phrase 'fun to drive' toward meaninglessness, it's refreshing to get into a car that's all about making you feel as comfortable as possible." -- Autotrader (2017)

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