2016 Lexus ES300h Test Drive


Base price: $40,920

Lexus ES300h

A nice sedan doesn’t make you happy – just look at some of the expressions on some of the people driving them.

But if the 300h doesn’t pull the needles out of your spine and make you feel like the wicked world is wonderful for at least a little bit, check your pulse. The car’s gorgeous. It’s powerful. It’s comfortable. It’s responsive. It’s efficient. It’s everything anyone ever wants in a Lexus, and its hybrid engine gets a stupidly amazing 40 miles per combined city/highway to the gallon. If I could have driven it through my front door and up into my bedroom each night and tucked it in next to me, I would have.

I loved the “spindle grill,” first, which isn’t new but which somehow didn’t thoroughly pierce my consciousness until this test, perhaps because, for 2016, it gets a little more extreme, framed by a great-looking elegant satin chrome trim. New standard LED headlights give the ES 300h a more distinctive face and a fully redesigned front fascia puts the fog lights at the corners to accentuate the wide stance. At the caboose, distinctive L-themed taillights and new and exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels finish off the car’s sporty, fast look. Four new exterior colors are available such as Linear Dark Mocha, Illustrious Piano Black (replacing Piano Black) and Bamboo with a matte finish (replacing a gloss finish) Each of these use self-healing clear coat technology to handle minor scrapes and abrasions. A trunk lip spoiler, hidden exhaust pipe and blue hybrid badges come with. Its engine has come a long, long way from the feeble Honda Insight I tested almost a generation ago.

The ES300h system combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with an electric motor to generate 200 total system horsepower. That may not sound like much power, but it was there every time I needed it. The Hybrid System Indicator shows use of energy and encourages efficient driving habits and the four driving modes – Normal, Sport, Eco and EV – absolutely rock, bringing power when you want it and conservatism when appropriate.

The extras are many and impressive; here’s a partial list. LexusINT ES300h

High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control works at speeds over 25 mph, tracking the speed of the vehicle in front of you and adjusting speed setting accordingly to help maintain a preset distance. “PCS” can detect vehicles – and in some circumstances, pedestrians – by using a combination of millimeter-wave radar and a front-facing camera. The system will warn the driver of a possible collision and can initiate automatic braking with Brake Assist if necessary. Using a camera to monitor visible lane markings, Lane Departure Alert is designed to warn the driver if the vehicle is drifting so the driver can steer back into the lane. With Steering Assist enabled, both help the vehicle stay in the center of its lane by smoothly increasing steering torque.

“IHB” combines technology, safety and driving courtesy: it can sense headlights from oncoming traffic, and also the taillights of the vehicle traveling in front, automatically adjusting high- and low-beam illumination. The optional Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) helps detect vehicles in side blind spots and alert the driver to rear cross traffic when backing out of a parking space. Soft-touch materials and silver-trimmed piano black door switch plates are among the details that give the 2016 ES 300h interior a richer appearance and feel.

There’s more, much more – check it out by clicking here.

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