Review: 2023 Lexus ES 300h F SPORT Design

The hybrid powertrain was invented by Toyota and Lexus, who have spent ten years perfecting the process. It began with the Prius and spread to its high-end products, like the Lexus ES 300h Sedan.

The brand's hybrid lineup has long included the ES 300h ($52,600), and for 2023, a new F Sport Design trim is available. For $1,850 more, this trim adds 19-inch wheels, wireless charging, a heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel column, wood door trims, and wood-accented wheels, among other features. The more upscale grades F Sport 2 ($6,500), Luxury ($6,650), and Ultra Luxury ($10,600) are above it. But when ordered in Ultrasonic Blue Mica and equipped with blacked-out wheels, it's without a doubt one of the sportiest, most striking, and most modern Lexus products available.

The interior is elegant, comfortable, and ergonomic in addition to being visually appealing. The redesign of the center console will be the biggest change for 2023. There are now two sizable cupholders and a cubby shelf for storing small items in place of the annoying trackpad. Even the USB plug outlets have a seamless cover to conceal them.

Then, how do you operate the infotainment? Well, everything now uses a touchscreen, which is what we think the Lexus interface was designed for from the start. The experience is now much more friendly and intuitive, but our biggest gripe is that the screen is placed a little too far from the seats, requiring us to constantly get up from the seatback in order to reach it with our fingers. Any day of the week, we'll take that over the confusing trackpad. The screen is also enormous and has no noticeable lag in high definition.

The cabin still features the Frankenstein bolts embedded in the instrument binnacle that control the driving modes, LC-borrowed swoopy door handles, insanely supportive seats, roomy rear accommodations, and lovely switchgear, with the exception of the steering wheel, which has been slightly updated with wood accents. The ES feels like a distinct, stand-alone entity rather than just a Camry that has been dressed up.

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with naturally aspirated combustion is mated to an electric motor and battery in the ES 300h. It shares many specifications with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, including a continuously variable transmission (CVT), front-wheel drive, and a 215 combined horsepower output. Notably, this hybrid lacks all-wheel drive and turbochargers, but we don't believe that is necessary for efficiency.

One of the few vehicles, the ES 300h encourages us to drive slowly while rewarding us for doing so. This year, we don't believe we've ever driven more slowly. The hybrid is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint, even though it lacks the fervor and vigor of the ES 350 and its V6 engine. Our 6.8 L/100km yield over city driving is the proof in the pudding. Additionally, it meant that we could travel about 700 kilometers on a full tank. In contrast to some other luxury hybrids, it doesn't require 91-octane premium fuel. Of course, getting there requires meticulously feathery right footwork, like putting an eggshell under the pedal, but doing so reliably keeps the ES 300h in electric drive mode with only fairy dust coming out of the exhaust.

Although there are seamless transitions between electric and combustion, the engine does not like to be awakened from its sleep. It makes unpleasant noises under heavy throttle, especially because the cabin is so well-insulated from tire and wind noise, making the engine stand out even more. This may be why we insisted on keeping it in electric-only mode. Although the resulting acceleration is nothing to write home about, it never made us feel vulnerable when overtaking or merging onto highways. It is an inherent weakness of all Toyota hybrids.

The ES 300h is a powerful statement in the hybrid segment, even though the appealing combination of four doors, an effective powertrain, and a large trunk won't be enough to lure most buyers away from the even more popular Lexus RX SUV. In addition to having a tried-and-true green footprint, it doesn't forgo luxury or comfort in order to demonstrate that it can carry out its purpose. The cabin serves as an essential supporting role, both literally and figuratively, and the ride quality is excellent, deserving of the Lexus badge.

And with the price of new cars rocketing through the roof, paying mid-$50k for a lavishly equipped luxury sedan seems like a steal. Although the Lexus ES may not be as well-known as its more expensive competitors, we would still enthusiastically suggest it as an alternative to the E-Class or 5 Series.


  • Model: 2023 Lexus ES 300h F SPORT Design
  • Paint Type: Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0
  • Base Price: $52,600
  • Price as Tested: $55,100
  • Wheelbase(mm): 2,870
  • Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,975 / 1,865 / 1,445
  • Curb weight (kg): 1,680
  • Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder, electric motor, lithium-ion battery
  • Horsepower: 201 net horsepower
  • Transmission: CVT
  • Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
  • Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 6.8

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