2014 Lexus ES 300h

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$17,137–$29,577 Inventory Prices
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Key Specs

of the 2014 Lexus ES 300h. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    40 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    156-hp, 2.5-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    2-speed CVT w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Hybrid drivetrain's seamless operation
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Roomy backseat
  • Appearance of optional bamboo wood trim
  • NHTSA crash-test scores

The Bad

  • Firm ride
  • Little reserve power at highway speeds
  • Gas mileage estimates trail competition
  • Distracting Remote Touch interface
  • Some expected features not standard

Notable Features of the 2014 Lexus ES 300h

  • Newly available Siri Eyes Free Mode for iPhone
  • Gas-electric hybrid drivetrain gets 40 mpg combined
  • Seats five
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Available Pre-Collision System with auto-braking

2014 Lexus ES 300h Road Test

Mike Hanley

The 2014 Lexus ES 300h hybrid drives like a conventional car, but its overly firm ride is disappointing, its multimedia interface is distracting and its estimated gas mileage trails the competition.

The ES 300h was new for the 2013 model year, and the front-wheel-drive car uses the same hybrid system as the Toyota Camry Hybrid to get its EPA-estimated 40/39/40 mpg city/highway/combined. Changes for 2014 include newly available Siri Eyes Free Mode for compatible iPhones; to see how the 2013 and 2014 models compare, click here, or check out how the ES 300h stacks up against its main competitor, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, here.

The ES 300h starts at $40,410 including a $910 destination charge. Features include aluminum wheels, push-button start, power front seats, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth and a USB port. Optional features like heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system with a backup camera, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and bamboo wood trim raised the price of our test car to $44,710.

How It Drives
Lexus has overcome the driving-experience quirks that have plagued many hybrids. Acceleration from a stop is smooth and predictable — even when the gas engine turns on for supplemental power. Its performance is similar to a strong, gas four-cylinder drivetrain, as opposed to a V-6 one, but the car is swift enough for city driving.

On the highway, though, there's little reserve power; the ES 300h cruises easily at sp...

The 2014 Lexus ES 300h hybrid drives like a conventional car, but its overly firm ride is disappointing, its multimedia interface is distracting and its estimated gas mileage trails the competition.

The ES 300h was new for the 2013 model year, and the front-wheel-drive car uses the same hybrid system as the Toyota Camry Hybrid to get its EPA-estimated 40/39/40 mpg city/highway/combined. Changes for 2014 include newly available Siri Eyes Free Mode for compatible iPhones; to see how the 2013 and 2014 models compare, click here, or check out how the ES 300h stacks up against its main competitor, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, here.

The ES 300h starts at $40,410 including a $910 destination charge. Features include aluminum wheels, push-button start, power front seats, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth and a USB port. Optional features like heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system with a backup camera, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel and bamboo wood trim raised the price of our test car to $44,710.

How It Drives
Lexus has overcome the driving-experience quirks that have plagued many hybrids. Acceleration from a stop is smooth and predictable — even when the gas engine turns on for supplemental power. Its performance is similar to a strong, gas four-cylinder drivetrain, as opposed to a V-6 one, but the car is swift enough for city driving.

On the highway, though, there's little reserve power; the ES 300h cruises easily at speed but makes more noise than acceleration when you press the gas pedal to the floor.

Apart from a slight shudder and the associated noise when the gas engine automatically turns on, the only thing that reminds you you're in a hybrid is brake-pedal responsiveness. Hybrids have regenerative braking technology that uses the car's kinetic energy to charge the hybrid battery pack. The ES 300h's brake pedal feels linear, if a little soft, but what's bound to catch drivers by surprise is the immediacy with which the brakes engage. The regenerative braking system starts slowing the car with just the slightest brake-pedal pressure. Unlike most conventional brake systems, there's no initial dead space before the brakes engage.

The most disappointing aspect of the ES 300h is how the car rides. Even small cracks and bumps in the road produce a hard, sharp response. It feels like a high-performance sports car, which is all the more tiresome because the ES 300h doesn't handle like a performance car in the slightest. It's not dynamic or engaging. Lexus seems to be on a mission to make all its cars sporty, but most ES 300h buyers are probably more interested in comfort, and it's lacking here.

The hybrid system includes multiple driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport and EV. The car starts in Normal when you turn it on, and I like the gas pedal's responsiveness in this mode. Eco mode severely diminishes gas pedal response, and it wasn't long before I got fed up with it and switched back to Normal. Sport mode switches the hybrid power meter in the instrument panel to a tachometer and makes the steering a little heftier. EV mode lets the car operate on electric power alone at slow speeds for short distances.

The ES 300h's 40/39/40 mpg estimate trails the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid's 45/45/45 mpg, and my observed gas mileage in the Lexus was about 25 percent lower than the EPA combined estimate of 40 mpg. According to the trip computer, I averaged 29.8 mpg during a 108-mile stretch, with an average speed of 19 mph.

That depressing average speed aside, it was very cold during most of my driving, with outside temperatures in the single digits and low teens. Cold temperatures tend to hurt gas mileage, particularly for hybrids, and the ES 300h was rarely operating on just electric power — even during slow-moving rush-hour traffic when you'd expect it to. My driving also included some stretches on fast-moving highways and suburban streets.

The extremely low temperatures also hurt the hybrid system's seamlessness in heavy traffic. In stop-and-go driving the gas engine would abruptly start as you crept forward.

Interior
The ES 300h's cabin styling emphasizes the car's width with its focus on horizontal lines. The optional Premium Package included light-colored bamboo wood trim that looked great and provided an eye-pleasing contrast to the rest of the cabin, which was finished mostly in black materials.

One aspect of the cabin that's a little off-putting is the upper door trim. I sometimes like to rest my elbow there, and even though it's technically a soft-touch surface because it has some give to it, it came across as being relatively hard. I expect softer trim in a luxury car.

The front bucket seats are wide and comfortable, and it was especially nice to have optional seat heaters during the chilly days I spent with the car. The seats warmed up quickly, but the center-console dial for setting the heat level was difficult to use when wearing gloves — even thinner fleece ones.

Backseat comfort is very good for a midsize car; it's nearly as comfortable as many full-size sedans. The outer rear seats have the same wide, comfortable feel as the front buckets, and legroom is good for taller passengers. The middle seat's cushioning is harder and you sit a little higher, but the flat floor — there's no center floor hump like many cars have — means more room for your feet.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Our test car had Lexus' Remote Touch interface, which is optional for the ES 300h. It consists of a mouse-like controller on the center console that moves a cursor on the dashboard screen. It works like a computer mouse.

The familiar interface should give Remote Touch a leg up on some of its competitors, like BMW's iDrive and Mercedes' Comand, but it doesn't. It's not a good interface for a moving vehicle. Even with the system's haptic feedback that draws the cursor to on-screen menus, the cursor still jumps around too much. It's distracting, and the result is that you end up paying extra attention to the system that would be better spent watching the road. This isn't an issue with iDrive or Comand, both of which use knob-based controllers to jump from one on-screen menu to the next.

Bluetooth connectivity isn't standard — surprising for a car that starts at more than $40,000 — but it's included with the optional Display Audio and navigation systems. My iPhone connected easily using Bluetooth, and the multimedia system downloaded my address book quickly. The Bluetooth streaming audio function worked well, too.

Cargo & Storage
The ES 300h's trunk measures 12.1 cubic feet, which is about 3 cubic feet smaller than the cargo area of the ES 350, its gas-only sibling. The trunk opening is large and the cargo area has a nice shape, but unlike the ES 350, the ES 300h doesn't have a pass-through for carrying long, skinny items inside the car.

Storage areas include a small glove box (which is mostly occupied by the large stack of owner's manuals), a decent-sized center console bin, average front door pockets and a small bin on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel.

Safety
The ES 300h received a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its crash-test performance.

Optional safety features include a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, a backup camera and a Pre-Collision System that can warn you about oncoming obstacles as well as tighten the seat belts and autonomously brake the car.

For a full list of safety features, check out the Features & Specs page.

Value in Its Class
Lexus has managed to get the difficult things right with the ES 300h, like relatively seamless hybrid system operation, but the car is lacking in areas you wouldn't necessarily expect, like ride comfort and the standard features list (leather upholstery, Bluetooth and a backup camera are optional).

With hybrids, it's always tempting to see how many years it'll take to recoup the added expense of the technology (comparing base versions of the ES 300h and ES 350, the payback time is 3.4 years). Saving money isn't the only motivating factor when it comes to buying a hybrid, however, especially when there's a luxury badge on the grille.

Fuel efficiency for its own sake matters more for some, and the ES 300h's 40 mpg combined rating lags behind mainstream models like the Honda Accord Hybrid (47 mpg) and Ford Fusion Hybrid (47 mpg) as well as luxury ones like the MKZ Hybrid (45 mpg). This is only the ES 300h's second year on the market, but already Lexus has some catching up to do.

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Latest 2014 ES 300h Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.0)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

My Dream Car

by babyboytyler1221 on August 6, 2018

Great interior design, a lot space and look great on the road while driving. I am coming from having a Toyota Camry that lasted me 16 year sand wanted to stay in the Toyota family and this perfect for ... Read full review

(5.0)

Most economical car i've ever owned

by RDPilot from ORLANDO on June 30, 2018

This is a great car for Florida driving. Lots of stop and go driving. It is also one of the most quite cars on the road. Thanks Lexus Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2014 Lexus ES 300h currently has 1 recall

NHTSA Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2014 Lexus ES 300h Base

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall
5 Star
Overall Front
5 Star
Overall Side
5 Star
Overall Rollover Rating
4 Star
Driver's
5 Star
Passenger's
5 Star
Side Barrier
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Driver
4 Star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
5 Star
Side Pole
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
4 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Lexus

Program Benefits

Every L/Certified vehicle now comes with an unlimited-mileage warranty up to 6 years, complimentary maintenance plan. Each L/Certified Pre-Owned Lexus must pass a rigorous inspection and be thoroughly reconditioned to meet the same high standards as a new Lexus. Exclusively at a Lexus dealership.

  • Limited Warranty

    Unlimited Mileage Warranty Up To 6 Years

    Warranty is valid for a minimum of two years/unlimited mileage after the expiration of 4 yr/50,000 mile new vehicle Basic Warranty, or two years from L/Certified purchase or lease date, whichever occurs later.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 70,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 161 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The ES 300h received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker