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2019 Lexus ES Hybrid: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 11/27/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a red car parked on the side of a road: 2019 Lexus ES Hybrid© Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 2019 Lexus ES Hybrid

The 2019 Lexus ES Hybrid is fully redesigned for 2019, with more power, better handling, and a full suite of advanced safety features. It is largely an excellent car, but it ranks in the middle of the luxury midsize car class thanks to its frustrating infotainment system and the presence of more well-rounded rivals.

Research

The 2019 Lexus ES Hybrid is ranked:

Is the Lexus ES Hybrid a Good Car?

The 2019 Lexus ES 300h hybrid is a lovely luxury car. It isn't the top-ranking car in its class, but that's partly because it's up against some stiff competition. Give the ES Hybrid a try, and you'll enjoy one of the quietest cabins in the class. Its seats are cushy, there's lots of legroom all-around, and the trunk is one of the largest among luxury midsize sedans (which is especially notable considering most hybrids lag in this department). Before you buy, however, give the ES Hybrid's infotainment system a thorough test run, as it is more challenging to use than most.

Should I Buy the Lexus ES Hybrid?

The Lexus ES Hybrid beckons travelers to be driven, rather than to drive. Between its polished ride, whisper quiet cabin, ample legroom, and indulgent seats, the ES Hybrid is a relaxing place to spend the day. It's an attractive choice if you want a comfortable luxury car with good road manners and top-of-the-class fuel economy (though official EPA estimates are not yet available). If you like the package but want a little more pizzazz, check out its nonhybrid sibling, the Lexus ES 350, which we review separately. The Volvo S90 is also worth a look. Its plug-in hybrid powertrain gets 71 mpg-equivalent, yet it packs quite the punch, with a 400-horsepower rating. Keep in mind that the S90 starts at more than $63,000, which is a big jump from the ES Hybrid's expected starting price.

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus ES Hybrid?

For the most part, the redesigned 2019 Lexus ES 300h shows marked improvement over the 2018 model. Its suspension system has been refined, an impressive suite of safety features now comes in every trim, and the sedan gains extra horsepower. Unfortunately, Lexus did not overhaul the infotainment system, and many drivers will find the interface overly distracting to use while driving (this issue afflicted the 2018 ES Hybrid as well). Lexus hasn't yet released pricing information for the 2019 ES 300h, but chances are, you'll be able to save money by shopping for a used ES 300h instead. If your budget allows, though, we recommend buying the 2019 model.

We Did the Research for You: 8 Reviews Analyzed

Our Lexus ES Hybrid review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from eight sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been writing car reviews since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Lexus ES Hybrid Cost?

Lexus has not yet announced pricing for the 2019 ES 300h. It's likely that the MSRP will be comparable to the 2018 model's, which starts at $41,820. Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus ES Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus ES Hybrid or Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class doesn't come as a hybrid, but there are plenty of other powertrains to choose from. None are very fuel-efficient (25 mpg combined is the maximum fuel economy), but what this Mercedes lacks in gas mileage, it makes up for in power. In addition to its selection of potent powertrains, the E-Class has an exquisite interior, an abundance of technology, and lots of standard safety features. Overall, this is one of the best midsize sedans – if you don't mind the comparatively low fuel economy and high price (its MSRP is about $10,000 more than the ES Hybrid's).

Which Is Better: Lexus ES Hybrid or Toyota Avalon Hybrid?

Though it doesn't come with a luxury badge, there's a lot to like about the 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid. It shares many similarities with the Lexus ES Hybrid, yet offers two key advantages. The first is price. The entry-level Avalon Hybrid costs $36,500, or around $5,500 less than the ES Hybrid. The other reason to consider the Toyota over the Lexus is that the former comes with a much better infotainment system. If you don't want to lose out on the luxury accoutrements, choose the Avalon Hybrid Limited, which is decked out with leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, and an upgraded sound system.

ES Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the ES Hybrid Seat?

Lexus scores lots of points when it comes to passenger comfort inside the ES 300h. Its five seats – upholstered in synthetic leather, with 10-way power adjustments in the front – present both front and back-seat passengers with ample acreage to spread out. And if you're looking for a napworthy cabin, this is truly one of the quietest you'll find.

ES Hybrid and Car Seats

To secure child car seats, the ES Hybrid has two sets of lower anchors (located on the outboard seats) and three tether anchors (one for every rear seat).

ES Hybrid Interior Quality

The interior of the ES 300h is saturated with mostly top-notch materials, and a nice complement of upgrades add even more splash. Available enhancements include semi-aniline leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, wood inlays, and ambient lighting.

ES Hybrid Cargo Space

The ES 300h has one of the largest trunks in the class, which is especially impressive considering it's a hybrid (the battery usually takes up a lot of cargo space in a hybrid). With its 16.7-cubic-foot trunk (the same size as the nonhybrid Lexus ES 350), you can pack two carry-on suitcases for everyone on board.

ES Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

When it comes to technology, it's good news, bad news for the ES 300h. The good news is that even without adding any options, the ES is well-equipped. The standard smartphone integration now includes Apple CarPlay (a first for Lexus). A Wi-Fi hot spot, an 8-inch screen, Bluetooth, and Amazon Alexa are also included. The bad news relates to the complicated infotainment interface. Between the unintuitive mouselike touchpad (no touch screen is available in this car) and the identical climate control buttons, drivers must divert their eyes away from the road longer than is safe to adjust settings.

ES Hybrid Performance

ES Hybrid Engine: Polished and Peppy

The ES 300h gets a bump in power for 2019, with its horsepower rating increasing from 200 to 215. The components still have the same specs: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). This system delivers the one-two punch of being both energetic and efficient.

ES Hybrid Gas Mileage: Class-Leading Estimates

The 2019 ES Hybrid does not yet have a fuel economy rating from the EPA, but Lexus estimates that it will deliver 44 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. If these numbers hold true, this will be the most fuel-efficient vehicle in our luxury midsize car rankings.

ES Hybrid Ride and Handling: Smooth Hybrid Braking System

This car doesn't drive like a hybrid … in a good way. Its regenerative braking system is silky smooth, making the ES 300h feel more like a nonhybrid car. That's not always the case with hybrid brakes. The suspension system has been greatly improved from the previous generation, resulting in a controlled yet comfortable ride quality.

ES Hybrid Reliability

Is the Lexus ES Hybrid Reliable?

The 2019 ES Hybrid does not yet have a reliability score from J.D. Power.

Lexus ES Hybrid Warranty

Lexus covers the ES Hybrid with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid system warranty.

ES Hybrid Safety

ES Hybrid Crash Test Results

Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published crash test results for the 2019 Lexus ES Hybrid.

ES Hybrid Safety Features

The ES Hybrid comes with an impressive suite of advanced safety features, called Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. These include a pre-collision system, oncoming vehicle detection, low light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, lane tracing assist (similar to lane keeping assist), automatic high beams, and parking support alert. A rearview camera is also standard. Available safety features include rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind spot monitoring, a head-up display, parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera system.

Which Lexus ES Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Lexus ES comes in two versions: the hybrid ES 300h and the nonhybrid ES 350 (which we review separately). To customize your car further, look for one of the handful of available packages or pick from the list of standalone factory options. Lexus hasn't yet announced prices for the 2019 ES 300h or its packages, but its MSRP will likely start at around $42,000.

If price is a top concern, we recommend bypassing the add-on packages and sticking with the base model. The ES 300h already comes well-equipped with a high-quality sound system, dual-zone climate control, a lengthy list of advanced safety features, and more.

Lexus ES Hybrid

Standard features in the ES 300h include synthetic leather seats, a moonroof, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, and a robust suite of advanced safety features. This bundle, called Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, includes a pre-collision system, oncoming vehicle detection, low light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, lane tracing assist (similar to lane keeping assist), automatic high beams, and parking support alert. Additional technology includes an 8-inch infotainment display, three USB ports, Bluetooth, a CD player, HD Radio, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, voice commands, Siri Eyes Free, Google Voice Control, and smartphone integration that's compatible with Amazon Alexa.

Lexus ES Hybrid Premium Package

Extra features grouped together for the Premium package include heated and ventilated front seats, driver's seat memory, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Lexus ES Hybrid Luxury Package

The Luxury package adds leather seats along with ambient lighting, wood trim, acoustic side glass, and all features in the Premium package.

Lexus ES Hybrid Ultra Luxury Package

In addition to all features from the Premium and Luxury packages, the Ultra Luxury package adds semi-aniline leather seats, a power rear sunshade, manual rear-door sunshades, an upgraded suspension system, and a hands-free power trunk lid.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

The Final Call

The ES Hybrid takes several leaps forward for 2019, including improved handling (comfort is still king, but it's no longer overly floaty), a bit more muscle (with an increase in horsepower), and a larger trunk (matching the size of the nonhybrid ES). The infotainment system and its maddening mouselike touchpad are still present, however. This distracting system will cause many shoppers to bypass the ES Hybrid in favor of a car with an easier-to-use interface.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2019 Lexus ES Hybrid review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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