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2019 Lexus ES Hybrid Performance Review


Performance: 7.9

The redesigned 2019 Lexus ES Hybrid features an improved suspension system that nails the delicate balance between maintaining the car's composure and absorbing rough patches in the road. The refined powertrain also earns praise: It accelerates the car with ease and is on track to lead the class in fuel efficiency.

  • "The new seventh-gen ES … takes corners quickly and competently. And if you relax your hands and concentrate, you'll get some pretty decent feedback from the steering. On the downside, the steering feels heavy in more relaxed driving. … Still, compared to the previous ES, which turned into a quivering puddle of understeer, it's a notable improvement." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "This level of detail extends to the redesigned suspension. You may not know or care about manufacturing techniques with incredibly fine tolerances, but you'll appreciate the improved ride control. On the winding roads around Nashville, the newest Lexus felt noticeably more refined than the outgoing generation." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Like the previous generation, the ES 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is a type of automatic. The system delivers a combined 215 horsepower (an increase from the 2018 model) and reaches 60 mph in about 8.1 seconds.

Overall, the ES Hybrid feels plenty powerful, and reviewers are impressed with its low noise, polished performance, and exceptional fuel economy. The ES Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 43 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, which are great ratings for a hybrid vehicle.

  • " … this might be the one to buy. Though it only has 215 hp, off-the-line speed is good with help from the electrics and on the road it's library quiet. The engine kick-on is almost imperceptible, except when you're flooring it. … That sends a little snarl and vibration into the cabin. At cruising speed though, you could whisper to your passenger next you without a problem." -- Autoweek
  • "The new system and CVT in the hybrid do a better job of avoiding the rubber-band feel when the engine is revving up but not moving forward. Acceleration feels more natural, and a three-layer inner dash silencer squelches any whine." -- Motor Trend
  • "Indeed … the 300h never felt overtaxed unless pushed to the absolute limit, whereupon the buzz of its continuously variable automatic transmission made itself known. Driven properly, the hybrid trades drone for reduced drinking at fueling time, with a whopping 44 mpg combined available from its electrified setup." -- New York Daily News

Handling and Braking

The ES 300h is a front-wheel-drive sedan that excels when it comes to comfort. The updated suspension system keeps body roll in check while gliding over pavement imperfections, and the ride is very quiet. Reviewers are also impressed with the regenerative braking system. Instead of slowing the car dramatically when you let go of the accelerator, the ES' system acts more like a nonhybrid, giving the sedan a more natural feel.

  • "The hybrid gets a new system called Auto Glide Control that puts the car into a coast mode when the driver releases the gas pedal, instead of going hard into the regenerative brakes. …I didn't really notice it working, which is probably a good thing. Another thing I thankfully didn't notice was the brakes. Lexus nailed them. They do provide regen energy, but without that two-brake feel where the first portion just regens and barely slows the car, and the second part feels more mechanical." -- Autoweek
  • "The engineers at Lexus worked to improve the hybrid's ride and lose the rubber-band feel often experienced in hybrid vehicles. The ES 300h tries to make you forget it's a hybrid altogether and it largely succeeds. The ride is remarkably smooth and quiet. It's a truly relaxing ride." -- Boston Globe
  • 'Bland comfort' is far from an insult – it's a veritable ES trademark, and it continues to be available as standard equipment. … Cornering capability is good but not great, as the car's size and the coddle-first foundation of its overall suspension geometry limits its floor routine. And yet, much of that same platform strengthening and chassis improvement intended to sharpen the ES' reflexes is clearly evident in the car's calm and quiet cabin, which repeat buyers will no doubt appreciate." -- New York Daily News
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