The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

The midsize luxury sedan comes in two trims: the ES350 or its hybrid version, the ES300h, which was our test drive for the week. After a major re-do some years back, Lexus has maintained its status quo except for making rain-sensing wipers and Lexus Safety System (pre-collision, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam and high-speed dynamic radar cruise control) standard.
Under the hood resides a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that cranks out 156 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 156 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. But the battery-powered electric motor ups the total to 200 hp. It is mated to an ordinary Continuous Variable Transmission. But drivers can pick the following modes: normal, eco, sport and EV. In the latter, the car can coast for half a mile at 25 mph on solely electric power. During deceleration and braking, the vehicle uses regenerative braking to apply much of the wasted energy toward recharging the hybrid battery. We earned nearly 36.4 mpg in mixed driving (EPA estimates are 40 city, 39 highway, and 40 both).
Safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, rearview camera, vehicle stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock brakes, smart stop technology, front/rear seatbelt pretensioners and crumple zones, tire pressure monitoring and daytime running lights.
The massive Lexus spindle grille with stylish satin chrome trim is flanked by twin-projector LED headlights, while the blue tint in the emblem and the penciled hybrid on the rear doors are a giveaway. Step into the well-lit and airy cabin and you will quickly get cozy and comfy in the plush leather seats. A mouse-like, easy-to-use Remote Touch enables the driver to toggle navigation, climate, audio and phone controls. Also standard are auto dual a/c, driver information center, 10-way power front seats, power moon roof, analog clock, piano-black trim interior and a split-folding rear seat. Though trunk capacity is reduced by the battery, you get 12.1 cubic feet of space.
Positioned between the entry-level IS and the larger GS, the ES300h is a fun ride, responding with agility while saving you some money at the gas pump. Zero to 60 is just 8.1 seconds with top speed at 112 mph. Indeed, it is one of the smartest choices for any prospective midsize luxury sedan buyer.

Tires: P215/55R17
Wheelbase: 111 inches
Length: 193.3 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, dual-link rear
Steering: electric rack and pinion
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
Base price: $41,820
Price as tested: $51,005
Web site:

CALLING ALL LEXUS DEALERS IN THE WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA AREA: if you would like to be listed here as one of the test-drive dealerships, e-mail us at