2022 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury review (video)

Mark Davis

Nowadays, it’s a rare occurrence for a luxury sedan to cross our desk. With the popularity of SUVs, it’s refreshing to get the opportunity to ride in a wholesome, luxury four-door such as the 2022 Lexus ES. Sophisticated and indulgent. And it just so happens to offer class-leading fuel efficiency too.

Australia is still lucky enough to be offered five variants in terms of trim level and engines. You can get the Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury with a 2.5-litre, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, or a hybrid mix with the same engine and a 1.6kWh nickel metal hydride battery that powers an electric motor. The Sports Luxury is only available with the hybrid engine.

The Japanese-built ES faces tough competition from the likes of the Genesis G70, Mercedes-Benz C300e, BMW 330e, and the Volvo S60 T8 hybrids. Prices commence from $61,620 for the base model and peak at $78,180 for the Sports Luxury we are testing here (excluding on-road costs).

2022 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid
Output (combined): 160kW
Transmission: CVT auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×8.0, 235/45
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1705kg
Power-to-weight: 10.65:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 4.8L/100km
Economy during test: 5.0L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 50L/95 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 33.33kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.23 seconds*
0-100km/h: 8.38 seconds*
60-110km/h: 5.68 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.24 seconds at 145.3km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.633g
100-0km/h braking: 3.04 seconds at 39.19 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.363g
Decibel at idle (on standby): 22*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 72*
Priced from: $78,180[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury – THE PACKAGE

Even though the ES is related to the common Toyota Camry, it is worlds apart in terms of refinement and extravagance. Its overall body shape resembles the only similarity. It receives the latest design cues from Lexus, which include the huge trapezoidal front grille, sharp LED headlights, and aerodynamic contours that flow through to the rear of the car. The rear struts some stylishly angled LED lights that integrate with a flared out rear bumper.

On the inside is where that Lexus feel really comes out. Right down to the little details, you can notice extra attention and care has been taken to craft this sedan’s space. Everything feels like it’s padded and smooth in its function – from button pushes, knobs turning, touch points, soft window mechanisms and indicator stalk clicks, to an electronically operated and whisper-quiet rear sun shade. The level of quality in materials used is class leading as well.

The ES is not the biggest sedan Lexus offers, yet it feels huge inside. Front and rear passengers can make themselves feel right at home with tonnes of legroom and hip space. The rear doors are notably long, offering plenty of room for that presidential entry/exit. Only the headroom height is lower on entry/exit compared to SUVs, but it’s nothing unliveable. Long trips will be a loveable pastime thanks to seats that feel like your favourite leather chair that is just run in. It shapes to your figure perfectly, with an initial soft layer that provides ultimate comfort.

Rear passengers are granted the same levels of luxury as front passengers. They get temperature controls built into the centre armrest, controls of the multimedia system, and seat adjustments including electric reclining.

Surprisingly, the ES is one of the last cars to not adopt a fully digital instrument cluster. Only half of it is digital. The analogue side adds a touch class in an old-fashioned quality watch kind of way. But the digital side does not match the elegance of the rest of the interior in our opinion. The menu looks basic with its blocky, plain font and layout.

Turning to your left paints an entirely different picture. A huge 12.3-inch multimedia touch-screen gives you access to sat-nav, digital radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. And all of which can be operated using a control pad down on the console. Also included is a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system that sounds magnificent.

In terms of practicality, the interior is clean in its layout, resulting in an easy to grasp space. There are plenty of storage areas, a wireless charging pad, USB chargers scattered throughout, cupholders, and door pockets as big as most SUVs provide.

Further back, the boot in the mid-size sedan is class-leading. It may not be so important to buyers in this car category, but the nickel metal hydride batteries to power the car do not cause the boot floor to be raised up like others. There is ample space to fit a couple of full-sized suitcases and more. Obviously, the boot doesn’t have the height SUVs offer. Officially, it measures 473 litres. In comparison, the BMW 330e offers 375 litres, the Genesis G70 squeezes in 330 litres, and the Mercedes-Benz C300e only offers 300 litres of cargo space.

As you would expect from Lexus, there is a suite of safety features included in the ES 300h Sports Luxury. Some notable ones are active assist blind-spot sensors, forward and reverse collision mitigation, front and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, active bonnet safety, a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, active cornering and shadowing LED headlights with auto dipping high beam, a head-up info display, and speed zone recognition to name a few.

You are also rewarded with electric driver and front passenger seats with heating and ventilation, that multi-zone climate control with a humidity sensor, ambient interior lighting, rear and side sun blinds, an electric tilt and reach steering column, 18-inch alloy wheels, woodgrain panelling, and lots more.

Being the top-spec model, the only options to change in the Sports Luxury are the colours. No surprising hidden extras to add here.

Lexus has a renowned after-sales service program for its buyers. In fact, the brand consistently wins customer satisfaction awards and surveys for it. You are connected to deals and exclusive offers that go beyond just owning a luxury car. Of course, you also get a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with five years of free road-side assistance. Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

2022 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury – THE DRIVE

The ES 300h brilliantly demonstrates fuss-free hybrid technology. You don’t have to do anything differently or adjust your lifestyle to enjoy its fuel-efficient benefits. Charging happens behind the scenes during braking and from engine power. Officially, it burns an average of 4.8L/100km. We were able to achieve even better during our 500km of driving, with a brilliant 4.0L/100km showing on the trip computer (after reset odometer). It much prefers to plot around the city. On freeway travels where higher speeds are required, expect an average of about 5.6L/100km.

In terms of power, the 2.5L hybrid package outputs 160kW. It is complimented by a synchronous electric motor powered by 1.6kWh lithium-ion batteries that produces 202Nm of torque – Lexus does not supply a combined figure of torque. Power is driven to the front wheels only by an e-CVT automatic gearbox.

On the road it feels effortless to get up to speed. There is a false impression of a strong amount of power, as it doesn’t need to be thrashed to get up to speed quickly. But when heavy acceleration is applied, the engine starts to sound shrill and laboured with that CVT auto gearbox. There is no real art or thrill in its acceleration, but it feels calm and vanilla in its execution.

Having said that, the 0-100km/h sprint is lacklustre. It is officially timed at 8.9 seconds. We recorded it in 8.38 seconds. It’s a shame because we know Lexus has a greater sense of thrill than this when we look at the NX SUV, which offers 179kW or up to 227kW of power. Then again, Lexus knows its market well; it likely has the ES earmarked for drivers who just want to get from A to B without fuss, but in luxury and comfort.

Of note is the seamless start/stop engine process. It is as smooth as they come, with virtually no engine keeling over sound or vibration. It matches the rest of Lexus’s impeccable noise, vibration harshness (NVH) levels. Also worth mentioning is the huge improvement in braking smoothness compared with previous-gen hybrids.

In the past, energy generation from braking would dramatically vary the braking pressure required to stop the car, resulting in a jerky braking effect and constantly brake pressure changes. Now, braking pressure is consistent and smooth. Particularly better than what we’ve experienced in some rivals.

Around corners, the 300h emits minimal body roll due to its low centre of gravity and dynamic TGNA platform. The ride can be made soft and penetrable over bumps without feeling like you’re going to tip it over. It doesn’t quite exhibit the dynamics of the competition, like the BMW 330e, but it is still focussed and secure on the road at higher speeds. Compared to SUVs, it’s refreshing to get back into a sedan and feel more connected to the road by being closer to the ground.

2022 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury – THE VIDEO

2022 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury – THE VERDICT

The levels of quality and luxury put into the Lexus ES 300h are unmissable. Right down to the small details. You are also rewarded with class-leading fuel consumption from a hybrid sedan that does not require you to bend your plans and lifestyle to use it. We’d love to see some more power added, as seen in the NX SUV. But we love its flawless ability to provide a luxury ride and absorb bumps among our harsh Aussie roads.

Lexus has also done a great job in differentiating ES from the Toyota Camry it is derived from. You can’t go past that sharp Lexus styling, especially on the inside. For the Sports Luxury variant, it’s one of the few luxury variants out there that comes with the lot up front. No rude surprises when you add extras as they are already included.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Exceptional fuel economy
– Lexus exceptional quality and workmanship felt right down to the small details
– Class-leading NVH levels
– Braking feel has improved being a hybrid vehicle[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Semi-digital gauge cluster doesn’t match the elegant levels of the rest of the interior
– Among the dying-off luxury sedan market; it’s not an SUV
– Cumbersome touch-pad controller[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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