Interior view of the 2015 Lexus ES 300h.


Paired with an electronic continuously variable transmission, the Lexus ES 300h can go from zero to 60 in 8.1 seconds. That’s pretty impressive. The average fuel consumption of 40 mpg is pretty impressive, too, writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.


Even within the luxury car market niche´, there has to be a base level version, and for Lexus, that’s the ES 300 or 350 models. Now, it’s no secret that I find “entry level” to be an interesting qualification within the luxury segment. But, since you have to start somewhere, this isn’t a bad way to go.

The 2015 ES 300h is Lexus’ luxury hybrid model, and it is one of five hybrids in the Lexus family. The hybrid system combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with an electric motor to generate 200 horsepower. Paired with an electronic continuously variable transmission, the ES 300h can go from zero to 60 in 8.1 seconds. That’s pretty impressive. The average fuel consumption of 40 mpg is pretty impressive, too.

Drivers can select from four driving modes: Normal for everyday driving, Sport for increased powertrain response, Eco for fuel economy, and EV. In the EV mode, the car can be driven short distances using only power from the hybrid battery pack, but at reduced speeds.

And despite the ES300h’s “entry level” moniker, you’re going to find a host of amenities, safety features, and classy touches on board here. But, isn’t that what you would expect from Lexus?

Exterior view of the 2015 Lexus ES 300h.

Exterior view of the 2015 Lexus ES 300h.

The list of standard amenities starts with such things as leather seating, 10-way adjustable power front seats, a one-touch power moon roof, automatic dual zone climate control, heated outside mirrors, and an interior trim in Piano Black. Lexus’ Smart Access with Push Button Start feature can be programmed to recognize personalized driver settings for such things as mirrors, seat and steering wheel position.

Lexus’ standard audio system is also hardly “standard.” It includes a Premium Audio system with Automatic Sound Levelizer and MP3 Player Connectivity, and eight speakers, iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth capability, and an integrated Sirius XM Satellite Radio receiver.

Safety features include Vehicle Stability Control with TRAC, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, Smart Stop Technology, and a cabin built with energy managing crumple zones and side door beams. Other safety features, such as Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Alert, and Intuitive Parking Assist — which has sensors that sound when you are close to objects near the front and rear bumpers — are optional. Opting for these three features add $2,100 to the car’s $40,000 base price, but it is well worth it for the safety information they offer, in my opinion.

The Lexus ES300h is built on a rigid unibody structure with four-wheel independent suspension, which translates into a smooth ride and agile handling.

Exterior view of the 2015 Lexus ES 300h.

Exterior view of the 2015 Lexus ES 300h.

Families will find there a good amount of leg and headroom in the rear, and visibility is good. The trunk is good-sized for a hybrid, and can handle all the trappings of family life: groceries, sporting equipment and backpacks. Seats in all positions are comfortable.

As you would expect, the 2015 Lexus ES 300h is a classy car that is a flat-out pleasure to drive. There are so many nice touches onboard, it only leaves you wondering what could be above “entry level.”