What Is It?
When the Lexus brand launched in 1989, the ES was one of two premiere models. The ES has grown considerably in size, performance and luxury since the original sedan, and it remains one of the most popular models in the Lexus lineup. Toyota’s luxury brand offers the ES with a choice of drivetrains that includes an efficient hybrid system in the ES 300h, and for 2022 the hybrid can be outfitted as an F SPORT that adds a level of engaging styling to this efficient Lexus. We spent a few days with the 2022 Lexus ES 300h F SPORT and came away appreciating it more than anticipated.
Lexus provided us with a 2022 ES 300h F SPORT painted in Iridium (also known as Silver). At a base price of $45,450, the test vehicle arrived with several options including a 10.2-inch head-up display, triple-beam LED headlights, a power rear sunshade, a 12.3-inch multimedia display with navigation, and an F SPORT leather heated steering wheel for a total MSRP of $52,695. Competitors to the Lexus ES 300h include the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Genesis G70, Cadillac CT4 and Volvo S60.
F SPORT Styling
Although a Lexus hybrid is typically not considered “sporty,” the new F SPORT at least looks the part. Up front, the large signature grille is a unique mesh with a dark surround flanked by slim bi-LED headlights and signature LED running lights. Adding to the snazzy looks is an integrated trunk spoiler and special 19-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels with a Gloss Black finish.
The sporty looks continue inside this special 2022 Lexus ES 300h. The test vehicle also featured sport seats trimmed in Circuit Red NuLuxe synthetic leather, with extra bolsters as well as heating and cooling functions. Adding to the performance styling is specially polished Hadori aluminum trim throughout the cabin — including the pedals and other trim pieces — as well as red stitching on the dashboard.
The 2022 Lexus ES 300h possesses a high-tech feel thanks to an optional 12.3-inch touchscreen display with navigation. We’re not big fans of the touchpad interface located in the center console. It’s difficult to use, even when parked. Luckily the touchscreen makes the touchpad redundant, so owners won’t need to continually interact with this subpar interface. The test vehicle also featured a 10.2-inch head-up display.
Going about its everyday duties as a proper midsize sedan, the ES 300h offers a roomy rear seat with plenty of legroom and headroom. Rear seats get the same sporty treatment as those in front, and rear-seat occupants can keep devices charged via dual USB ports.
This midsize Lexus sedan provides plenty of trunk space with room for multiple pieces of luggage or other gear.
Under the Hood
The 2022 Lexus ES 300h F SPORT draws motivation from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor for a total output of 215 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. Power gets sent to the front wheels via Toyota’s continuously variable transmission. Although the F SPORT possesses some performance styling and suspension tuning, the powertrain remains the same as the rest of the ES hybrid lineup.
Even though the ES 300h may be lacking in power, it does deliver impressive fuel economy. According to U.S. EPA numbers, the ES 300h is rated at 43 mpg city / 44 mpg hwy / 44 mpg combined. We weren’t able to achieve higher than 40 mpg during our drive (granted, we were likely a bit more aggressive with the throttle than typical owners) but even this figure is laudable for a midsize luxury sedan.
On the Road
With only 215 horsepower on tap, the ES 300h F SPORT looks much quicker than it is. Acceleration off the line is not too impressive — the midsize sedan takes about 8 seconds to reach 60 mph, although for most buyers it will move quickly enough. It can be difficult (and expensive) to build a vehicle with strong performance and excellent fuel efficiency, thus the ES 300h leans towards the latter. That said, the vehicle is an excellent choice for highway cruising by providing a solid, quiet and efficient ride.
Although the ES hybrid is not quick off the line, once it’s on the move performance improves. The more time we spent behind the wheel, the more we came to appreciate the ES 300h as a comfortable, quality vehicle to drive. Throttle response is much better from 30 or 40 mph than from a standstill. The F SPORT adds suspension tuning and performance dampers that improve handling when driving this hybrid Lexus in a spirited manner.
The Lexus ES 300h offers a commendable combination of luxury and efficiency in the competitive premium sedan marketplace, and those seeking something a bit flashier will enjoy the sporty styling of the new F SPORT. And despite the hybrid ES not bringing a lot of power to the table, the impressive fuel mileage makes the ES 300h an enticing option — especially while fuel prices remain high.