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2022 Lexus ES 300h review: The classic luxury cruiser

The Lexus ES helped launch Toyota’s luxury division alongside the larger LS in 1989. Since then, it has remained a staple in the midsize premium sedan segment, surpassed only by the RX and NX crossover in the brand’s sales figures. The ES was also among the first luxury sedans to offer a hybrid powertrain, blending high efficiency with a luxurious driving experience. The refreshed 2022 Lexus ES 300h intends to continue that momentum and this time, it’ll be available with sportier looks.

2022 Lexus ES 300h exterior

2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport front three quarters 01
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Most of the design tweaks for the 2022 Lexus ES 300h are subtle. You get a new grille pattern, restyled headlights, and fresh alloy wheel designs. Most of the car remains unchanged, which isn’t a bad thing considering the curvy exterior remains one of the best executions of Lexus’ current design language to date. Our F Sport test car adds 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a honeycomb grille pattern, and a front fascia that’s specific to this model. Blue Lexus logos, a blue ES 300h badge on the trunk, and hybrid badges on the lower portions of the rear doors hint at the car’s electrified nature.

2022 Lexus ES 300h interior

2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport front seats 01
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

The ES 300h’s focus on comfort comes into focus the moment you get inside the cabin. Although it’s a midsize sedan, the interior feels like a size above because there’s so much room for all occupants. There’s abundant head and legroom, meaning you don’t sacrifice space despite the roofline descending quickly once you get past the B-pillar. Clever touches include a two-level cupholder on the center console and a slot for phones.

To no one’s surprise, the fit and finish in the ES 300h are impeccable. From the controls to the door cards, high-quality materials are everywhere. Every surface you interact with is either padded or built with components that befit a luxury car. Generous sound insulation keeps the cabin hushed at highway speeds, creating a calm space for commuting and long road trips.

Getting the F Sport package includes additional touches like Hadori Aluminum trim and heated and ventilated 10-way power front sport seats. The latter is exclusive to the F Sport model and has more bolstering to hold you in place better during evasive maneuvers. They’re supremely comfortable for long drives, too, thanks to their super-soft cushioning.

2022 Lexus ES 300h tech features

2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport center stack 01
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Lexus’ old user interface retains the touchpad but adds a 12.3-inch touch screen that’s moved closer to the driver. It’s simpler to use than before but some functions aren’t bundled together. Certain climate control functions, for instance, require you to hit the arrow button behind the touchpad to access things like the dual-zone functionality and the Eco mode. While submenus are kept to a minimum, response times to your inputs whether it’s via the buttons, touchpad, or the display, are slow.

Further adding to the infotainment system’s age are the grainy graphics, which don’t appear to have changed for some time. Like before, the touchpad is still hard to use because of its inconsistent reaction times; you don’t know if it registered your input or not, forcing you to swipe or press multiple times. The ES 300h’s standard 10-speaker audio system is clear but isn’t very immersive. You also need to turn it up to get a good listening experience. Unfortunately, the 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system isn’t available on the F Sport model, you need to go for the other variants to add it as part of a package that includes built-in navigation.

Every ES 300h gets the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 suite of driver assistance collision prevention technologies. It includes pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping and centering assist, steering assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard on all models while rear automatic emergency braking and rear pedestrian detection are available only on the Luxury and Ultra Luxury models.

The updated suite works subtly and makes gentle corrections when you start to drift. Adaptive cruise control’s distancing component is much more proactive than in older versions like Lexus Safety System 2.0. It constantly adjusts vehicle positioning to keep you at your set distance and isn’t as conservative with the amount of space it leaves between you and the car ahead. Brake applications are seamless thanks to the system doing a better job anticipating traffic slowdowns and vehicles cutting you off or changing lanes. It can also slow the vehicle down for turns, allowing you to go through them safely without reducing your speed too much.

2022 Lexus ES 300h driving impressions

2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport wheel 01
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

If a luxury sedan in the classic sense is what you’re looking for, then the ES 300h should be on your shopping list. Its emphasis on comfort is crystal clear. Harsh impacts are barely felt in the cabin and the car simply glides over road imperfections. Despite its cushiness, the ES 300h isn’t sloppy. It doesn’t flop around when taking corners or during evasive maneuvers thanks to well-controlled body motions. Steering, on the other hand, is light but accurate, making the car easy to maneuver.

F Sport models like our test car usually offer significant suspension tweaks to improve handling. In the case of the ES 300h, it’s closer to a cosmetic upgrade because there’s no detectable improvement in handling versus the other variants despite the standard-sport tuned suspension. Thankfully the 19-inch alloy wheels that come with the F Sport trim don’t affect the ride quality despite their lower profile.

Toyota and Lexus’ hybrid systems are among the most well-developed in the industry. The 2022 ES 300h’s powertrain couples a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a planetary gear set for a combined output of 215 hp. Despite weighing 3,730 pounds, the ES 300h moves without much effort. The electric motor gets the car off the line instantly and receives seamless assistance from the gas engine. As a result, there’s a good amount of usable power and you’re never left wanting when you put your foot down. Engine noise is also kept to a minimum even when you wind the hybrid system out.

During city driving and highway cruising the powertrain coasts a lot, relying on the electric motor to maintain your speed. The electric motor does most of the work up to speeds of 40 to 50 mph. This helps the ES 300h operate more efficiently, meaning it’s easy to achieve the sedan’s EPA-estimated ratings of 43/44/44 mpg city/highway/combined.

Seamless brake pedal operation allows you to take full advantage of the ES 300h’s regenerative braking capabilities. Although it won’t bring you to a complete stop, it can help you better control your speed. There’s also enough recuperation to fully charge the battery when going downhill but not bring the vehicle to a crawl. Transitions between regenerative and friction braking are seamless, making it easy to slow down smoothly in a consistent manner.

2022 Lexus ES 300h pricing

The 2022 Lexus ES 300h starts at $42,975. Adding the F Sport package will cost you an extra $3,550. Together with the Navigation package plus several standalone options, our test car checks in at $52,260.

2022 Lexus ES 300h final verdict

2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport rear three quarters 01
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

Keeping things cushy remains the main mission of the 2022 Lexus ES 300h. Don’t let the new F Sport variant think it’s transformed into a sporty front-drive midsize sedan because it’s still a cruiser first. Yes, there are suspension tweaks but they’re not extensive enough to change the ES’ character. For our money, we’d get the range-topping Ultra Luxury trim to add the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and smaller 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in tires with more sidewall to maximize the car’s comfort-focused character. This sedan is for the traditionalist that prioritizes getting coddled in calmness. Lexus’ hybrid powertrain adds to the ES’ Zen attitude while providing a nice balance of power, efficiency, and refinement.

At a glance

  • Year: 2022
  • Make: Lexus
  • Model: ES 300h
  • Trim: F Sport
  • Type: Midsize luxury sedan
  • Combined horsepower: 215 hp
  • MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 43/44/44
  • Pros: Supremely comfortable ride, vault-like interior, great build quality
  • Cons: Finicky infotainment controls, no split-folding rear seats, F Sport suspension doesn’t feel that much different from the standard setup
  • Base price: $42,975
  • Price as tested: $52,260
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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