Lexus is undergoing a range revamp, which includes the ES 300 and 350. It’s a substantial restyle inside and a fettling of the exterior, including the “take it or leave it” spindle grille. There are seven variants including the hybrid, the Luxury, and the F Sport. A Wheel Thing samples the entry level 2019 Lexus ES 300h which starts at just under $60K plus on roads.The ES chassis is big. BIIIIIIIG. In profile a long bonnet, low roof, and subtle lines make it look like it’s ten metres long. It’s just on 4975mm long, with a wheelbase of 2870mm. A low height of 1445mm emphasises the sinuous looks. Overall width is 1865mm. These measurements add up to provide plenty of interior room; there is 1077mm and 998mm front and rear leg room, 953mm and 949mm head room, and a very handy 1421mm and 1372mm for shoulder room. The sloping rear end hides 454L of cargo space.Up front the facelift gives more definition to the spindle grille. The F version gets a full black insert, whereas the ES 300h has a more chromed theme and with more “teeth”. The “L” LEDs have been pulled down from the main headlights and the front bar vents are more pronounced. It’s a more assertive and purposeful look overall. The rear now has reprofiled light clusters which match a sharper and reprofiled rear window line. The rear features a redesigned boot lid and integrated spoiler.The ES is lower than the previous model, down overall by 5mm, with the bonnet lower by 16mm. The slinky look is helped by the extra 60mm in length, rolls on a 50mm longer wheelbase,and the exterior changes have dropped drag down to a clean 0.26. In profile, it’s more akin to a coupe than a sedan.
Up front the 300h has a fuel efficient battery and petrol engine combination. On a purely urban drive cycle, AWT managed a creditable 5.1L/100km from the transverse mounted Atkinson cycle 2.5L four and fourth gen hybrid system.The petrol fed side generates 131kW and 221Nm, with peak torque on tap between 3600 to 5200 rpm. The battery system kicks in an extra 88kW and 202Nm, with a combined restricted total of 160kW. Lexus rates the ES 300h at 4.6L/100km on the combined cycle from the 50L tank. The 215/55/17 rubber with a reduced friction level help with economy.
For a big car it moves better than one would anticipate. Acceleration is superb and sees 100 kmh on the dial in a smooth, seamless, and quiet movement. Quiet because of the extra sound insulation in the body structure and in the glass. Seamless due to the single gear transmission and moreso because it feels quicker than the mooted 7.5 second time to 100.Where there is a question mark is over the suspension settings. Although it took a few days to come to grips with the package, the lingering impression was that the rear end was too soft in respect to the front’s suspension feel. Yes, it could be gentled around as sweetly as it could be monstered, and the nose really would hang on with tenacity (camber and caster have been improved and the MacPherson struts have been tuned further), but the rear never really felt as if it matched the front. What was also noticeable was the understeer at slow speeds, almost as if the steering ratio wasn’t quite on it for accuracy.Urban driving has the ES300h feeling composed, unflustered, with the larger speed restricting bumps being dealt with in a relatively easy manner, with a gentle tap of the brakes to settle the rear. It’ll whisper along the freeways and absorbs everything in an unflappable manner. Yes, it did take time to get used to whole ride but at the end it was a thoroughly rewarding experience.The inside has been given a makeover and it’s much less fussy in appearance than the previous model. Lines have been smoothed and filled, materials have been softened, the information screen has been widened (12.3 inches from 8) and a wireless charge pad for smartphones is fitted. The steering column is also fully powered for adjustment.The charge pad is placed inside the centre console which has a brilliantly designed double hinging cover. The pad is slightly difficult to get a phone with a cover in and out of however. Lexus has also changed the track-pad mechanism and it’s a little too softly sprung for true comfort. The mouse has been taken away, meaning a fingertip is used across the trackpad in its place.Ahead of the driver is a redesigned binnacle, complete with relocated drive mode switch. The dash display is a mix of classic dial with a LCD screen. The flick of the drive mode switch (Normal, Eco, Sport) changes the look of the display and it’s an easy on the eyes look with a nice blend of colours. There’s also a very clear to read HUD or Head Up Display. Rear seat passengers aren’t forgotten with a 12V port and pair of USB sockets.The glasshouse provides a great view all around, a sunroof lets in the rays to tan the noggin, and the windows are up and down with a soft touch on the switches. The superbly bolstered seats make the office space a great place to be whilst out on the road too whilst listening to the clear as day digital radio.
Safety isn’t an issue with a full suite of active and passive tech. Auto dimming front lamps and ten airbags kick off the safety, along with a pedestrian compatible bonnet, radar related cruise control, and daytime pedestrian detection. The second generation of Lexus Safety System+ with Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Alert is also here.There’s a nifty feature which, although not quite a safety feature, could be for some. The wipers have a feature that disengages them once a door is opened, and therefore stops splash on anyone getting out.
At The End Of The Drive.
As an entry level luxury car with a hybrid drivetrain, the 2019 Lexus ES 300h is certainly one to consider. At just over sixty thousand dollars it’s well priced to entice. It’s big enough for four or five, packs plenty of useable tech, and the quirks it has are easily liveable.
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