It’s as elegant as midsize luxury sedans come with a host of attributes and an impressive attention to detail that have made it one of Lexus’ top performers. I’m of course talking about the 2020 Lexus ES, and specifically the 300h hybrid model. My recent heavily-optioned Nebula Gray Pearl-hued review vehicle sported refined looks, a quiet and spacious interior along with excellent technology, robust driver assistance features and an efficient hybrid powertrain.
Starting with the powertrain, the front-wheel drive ES300h is the hybrid in the lineup. A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine plus Lexus Hybrid Drive delivers a combined 215-horsepower and 163 lb.-ft torque. While Lexus calls it the most powerful ES hybrid ever, these days I expect more power from a hybrid powertrain. (Also compare it to the 302-horsepower gas-only model.) The engine is mated to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission and the ES300h is equipped with Smart Stop technology.
Ride and Drive
This is a very comfortable, smooth sailing ride like you expect from Lexus, no surprises here. Ride quality is excellent and it is super quiet inside. Out of three drive modes, Eco Normal and Sport, the latter was as usual my favorite. I could feel the quicker acceleration in Sport mode and it boosts torque at lower speeds. In addition, the Ultra Luxury trims adds front and rear performance dampers that enhance stability and control. If a sportier ride is what you’re after, go for the ES 350 F Sport with standard adaptive variable suspension.
The Kentucky-built Lexus ES was redesigned in 2019. The seventh-generation ES is built on the brand’s Global Architecture K-platform, making it longer, lower, and wider than its predecessor. It takes styling cues for the coupe-like LS flagship sedan. The front end sports Lexus signature grille with ES-unique satin trim and it’s flanked by Bi-LED headlights and daytime running lights. The chiseled rear features with L-shaped LED taillights and a rear spoiler. Standard 17-inch wheels are replaced with 18-inch split five-spoke optional wheels on my test model. Standard power-folding outside mirrors on the top three trims, including this one, the Ultra Luxury, are new for 2020.
The top-of-the-line Ultra Luxury trim envelops you in comfort and the attention to detail inside the thoughtful, well-designed and user-friendly interior is impressive.
It is a comfortable and quiet oasis with leather and other soft touch materials along with hand stitching on the dash. The Ultra Luxury model comes with wood trim and ambient interior lighting. It also upgrades a 10-way driver’s seat to 14-way power (10-way for the passenger.) The semi-aniline leather-trimmed seats provide plenty of cushioning so they are quite comfortable as well as heated and ventilated on the UL trim.
I’m picky about steering wheels and this one gets my two thumbs up for its design, size and cushioning. It’s one of the most comfortable ones I’ve come across and features easy to use controls. The push-button start to the right lights up a mostly digital, bright tachometer with driver info and speed limit signs. Above the steering wheel you find something a little unusual, that being the drive mode selector with your Eco, Normal and Sport modes.
You control the climate controlled seats and steering wheel via buttons on the center stack. Underneath, the center console houses a leather gear shift, brake auto hold button as well as a nice area for cupholders and a vertical slot to hold your cell phone.
Quality materials flow through to the second-row which boasts best-in-class rear legroom and a drop-down center console. Light fills the cabin from above via a one touch power moonroof. The Ultra Luxury features power rear sunshade along with manual rear-door sunshades.
The available 12.3-inch split-screen multimedia display steals the show for me when it comes to cabin technology. It’s not a touchscreen like in the new 2020 Lexus RX but there are several ways to control it. You can use Lexus Remote Touch Interface touchpad, or a knob underneath the climate controls. Lexus says the updated RTI system has more usable surface area and vibration feedback to make it easier to use.
Overall I do find the Lexus infotainment system one of the more difficult to navigate, though the high quality ultra-sharp screen and graphics make up for it, as well as the terrific Dynamic Voice Command feature which quite accurately takes voice cues.
The ES comes with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, and, new for Fall of 2019 Android Auto. Other technology includes standard WiFi and two USB ports up front. My trim has an optional wireless charger in the console area.
Lexus premium, sound systems are among my favorite in the industry and this upgraded 17-speaker Mark Levinson PurePlay sound system, created just for the ES, does not disappoint, delivering excellent sound quality.
Cargo and Storage Space
If you are concerned about losing cargo space due to a hybrid battery, which happens in some hybrids, you need not be concerned here. Lexus says you won’t lose space since the battery pack is located underneath the rear seat. An optional hands-free trunk opener is also now available. Plus, Lexus says it improved interior storage by adding a more easily accessible dual hinge center console and door bins that can fit 20 oz. drink bottles or a 9.7-inch tablet.
The 2020 ES 300h comes with Lexus Safety System + 2.0 which includes standard:
- Pre-collision with pedestrian detection
- Dynamic radar cruise control
- Lane tracing assist
- Lane departure alert/ with steering assist
- High beams
- Road sign assist
The ES also features a nice back up camera with dynamic gridlines.
Ultra Luxury Features
- 14-way power semi-aniline leather driver’s seat/10-way passenger power
- Lexus Memory System for Driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel, power and tilt telescopic steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, heated and ventilated seats, wood trim, ambient lighting
- Power folding outside mirrors
- Hands free power open/close trunk
- Power Rear Sunshade w./manual rear-door sunshades
- Carpet Floor Mats
The Ultra Luxury trim starts with a base MSRP of $45,610. Stand alone options on my test vehicle add about $10K to that and include:
- Blind Spot monitoring w/ Rear Cross Traffic and Parking Assist with Auto Braking, Rear Pedestrian Detection and Panoramic View Monitor ($1,900)
- Wireless charger ($75)
- 18” inch 5-spoke noise reduction wheels ($950)
- 10.2-inch head up display ($500)
- Triple-Beam LED headlights ($1,515)
- Nav/Mark Levinson ($2,900)
- Heated wood & leather-trimmed steering wheel with windshield wiper deicer($480)
- Carpet trunk mat ($110)
The final MSRP on this test vehicle is $55,485, which I consider a good value for a luxury sedan with some great features, especially the optional driver assist technology, triple-beams and Navigation/Mark Levinson audio package.
2020 Lexus ES 300h Ultra Luxury
- What I liked most: Lexus comfort, design and quality along with an impressive attention to detail with thoughtful features in the cabin.
- What I would change: The hybrid powertrain. Pair the battery to a more powerful engine to boost horsepower and torque.
- MSRP: $45,610 base price, total MSRP with transportation: $55,485.
- Fuel Economy: 43 city/ 44 highway/44 combined.
- Official Color: Nebula Gray Pearl.
- Odometer reading when tested: 1,117
- Weight: 3,704 lbs.
- Final Assembly Location: Georgetown, Kentucky
- Spare Tire: Full-sized spare on steel wheel.
- Length-Width-Height: 195.9” long/ 73.4” wide/56.9” high.
- Fuel Tank: 13.2 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- 2020 Lexus ES 300h: A hand-down winner in the luxury category with incredible comfort, technology and driver assist features for a great price.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, with roadside assistance, and 72-months/70,000 miles of power train coverage; 8-year/100,000 hybrid powertrain.
- Manufacturer’s website: Lexus