—Rakish. High fuel economy. Roomy. Smooth ride. Stable handling. Good performanceCons
—Numb steering. Only moderately sporty. No fold-down rear seat backs. Bottom Line
—Upscale sleek fuel-stingy hybrid sedan.
A glance at the rakishly styled 2023 Lexus ES300h
F Sport probably will not lead many to suspect it gets an estimated 43 miles per gallon in town and 44 on highways. Moreover, this mid-size luxury sedan delivers solid performance and agile handling.
The F Sport features include black 19-inch alloy wheels that, however trendy, detract from the car’s sleek lines, rear spoiler, heated leather steering wheel, discreet F Sport badging inside and out, sport suspension tuning and aluminum pedals. There also are standard performance dampers.
However, the Lexus spindle grille design continues to be polarizing to some.
Lexus really can’t go wrong with this car because it has strong components from the Toyota Camry and (alas) discontinued Avalon.
The steering is numb, but accurate, the ride is impressively smooth, and handling is composed. You can go fast in this car, but not with the confidence of, say, an Audi or BMW. On the other hand, this Lexus costs less than some rivals.
While the ES300h F Sport is not a sports sedan, it provides plenty of comfort. Curiously, it has a “G-force” gauge near the speedometer that, as the owner’s manual says, displays lateral G-force on the car and also measures acceleration G-force. It’s something you might expect on the hot 472-horsepower Lexus IS sports sedan.
As it is, the ES300h F Sport has respectable acceleration (0-60 M.PH. in 8.1 seconds) with its 215 horsepower, generated by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a single electric motor with a nickel metal hydride battery. Only 87-octane gas is needed for the 13.2-gallon tank.
Power delivery is smooth with the electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission, and a driver can select Normal Custom, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. Sport+ livens things up, but Normal mode is best for most driving.
You can get the ES with a 302-horsepower V-6 (0-60 in 6.6 seconds), but then you don’t get the impressive estimated fuel economy of the ES300h F Sport: 43 miles per gallon in the city and 44 on highways. Besides, this car really doesn’t need 302 horsepower. The base ES 203-horsepower four-cylinder makes the car only moderately fast, with less fuel economy.
Note, however, that the ES 300h F Sport comes only with front-drive, while the base model has standard all-wheel drive.
There’s plenty room for four (five in a pinch) tall adults in an upscale interior, although the large front console takes up a lot of real estate. There are plenty of dashboard buttons for such things as the climate control system, heated seats and steering wheel. Thank goodness Lexus has eliminated the fussy, distracting touchpad controller for the updated entertainment system and given it in a more user-friendly one.
There are good number of storage areas, and front cupholders are nicely placed.
The trunk has has a low, wide opening, but the seat backs don’t fold forward for more cargo room. However, there is a moderately sized middle pass-through area from the trunk to the back seat area. When not used, this space is occupied by a large center armrest with built in dual cupholders.
The interior has a stylish asymmetrical dash, nice stitching, very supportive front and rear seats, upscale interior materials, Hadori aluminum trim, 10-speaker premium sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, power heated and ventilated seats, heated power steering wheel, power tilt-and-slide sunroof with a shade, power folding outside mirrors and a wireless charger.
Options included a a 12.3-inch touchscreen display instead if the standard 8-inch touchscreen display, a heads-up display projected on the windshield to show vehicle speed and such and a power open/close trunk trunk with a kick sensor.
The many safety features include a pre-collision system with with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane-tracing assist, lane-departure alert with steering assist, road-sign assist, blind spot monitor, with rear cross-traffic alert, intuitive parking assist, and 10 air bags.
Somebody at Lexus sat down and said, “Let’s design a competitively priced upscale car with wide appeal and exceptional fuel economy.” And thus we have the 2023 Lexus ES300h F Sport.