ELEGANT Sedan is what the ES moniker stands for in Lexus speak, and in the case of the 2019 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury, never a truer word was spoken.
Potential owners will face a tough decision though, whether to drive it themselves, or ride in refined luxury from the spacious rear seats.
The Lexus ES has been given a fresh breath of life for it’s seventh generation, which brings a new level of refinement and sophistication, along with an all new self-charging hybrid electric engine.
It dominates the ES experience, with its smooth CVT transmission and whisper quiet propulsion when in electric vehicle (EV) mode, and pressing the pulsing Lexus start button the first few times leaves you waiting for the engine to fire.
Instead you are greeted with a slight whirring sound, as both the digital dashboard and 12.3-inch multimedia screen flash to life and instantly you are ready to set off. Because that is what you do in the Lexus ES, you set off in hushed silence as the electric motor guides you on your journey.
We tip our hat to Lexus for this touch of genius. You or your UberLux passengers will always arrive and leave in distinguished silence as the ES prefers battery power for low speed driving.
Should it need help, the petrol engine will kick in once at speed to provide a little more oomph or to help charge the battery. Fuel consumption is a claimed 4.6-litres/100km, which is remarkable given the size and weight of the ES.
It tips the scales at over 1,700kg, but with an active Energy Monitor showing the flow of energy as you drive, you find yourself driving more economically to either use just battery power or to charge it up by braking and coasting.
The ES Sports Luxury we drove is the top of a two-model line up that also includes the Luxury. The Luxury comes in at $67,270 drive away while the Sports Luxury is priced at $83,810 drive away.
On the outside very little distinguishes the two models from each other, the real difference comes inside and underneath the skin. In simple terms, the Sports Luxury adds a raft of features over the Luxury.
Highlights of which include 18-inch wheels, a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and heated and ventilated 14-way power driver adjustable (12-way passenger) front seats, complete with memory.
There’s also tri-zone climate control, a hands free power boot lid, and rear window power sunshade. What should be taken with a grain of salt though is the ‘Sports’ addition to the title of the ES.
While the petrol-electric hybrid drive train can propel you somewhat briskly when required, it is far from sporting and unlikely to makes your hairs stand on end.
Despite a driving mode selection dial that includes ‘sport’, the handling and steering feels numb and uninspiring, which understandably is more focused towards cruising and comfort rather than a twisting back road.
Interior technology is dominated by the 12.3-inch multimedia screen, controlled by the remote touch interface, which is supposed to mimic smartphone style operation. Unfortunately, the interface is very hit and miss and not as precise as it should be.
Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ digital radio, SatNav with SUNA live traffic updates, Qi wireless phone charging, and an in-dash DVD player are all standard equipment, but what is surprising is this list is glaringly devoid of Apple Car Play or Android Auto.
Maybe Lexus see this as too lowbrow for their brand, for us though, their inclusions would make for much easier connectivity and navigation than the Lexus remote touch interface, especially when rivals such as the Mercedes E-Class include this feature.
Where the ES really shines however is its list of extensive safety features, mostly combined under the Lexus Safety System + banner. This includes an adaptive high-beam and pre-collision system.
The ES is also loaded with lane trace assist, radar active cruse control and road sign assist (a Lexus first, debuting on the ES) as part of LSS +. It’s supplemented by rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, a panoramic view monitor and 10 SRS airbags.
As you would expect, there are a lot of acronyms when it comes to safety systems in cars of this calibre and these are only a highlight of the many offered in the ES. All of these combine to see the Lexus ES receive a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating.
Some might be surprised by a lack of driving autonomy as offered by some rivals such as Mercedes-Benz, however when the ES is priced more than $15,000 cheaper on the road than the entry level E-Class for example, this can be easily overlooked.
Now you may have noticed we’ve mentioned the rear seats and comfort of passengers a few times already. That’s because the rear pews of the ES are an experience in themselves.
Large and electrically reclinable, they come with a rear armrest that folds down and doubles as a multi-operation panel. You might find yourself calling shotgun for the rear seats more than the front.
With a powered rear sunshade/privacy screen, as well as manual side window shades, you can also close yourself off from the world, lean back, adjust your climate and soundtrack to your liking, and await your arrival at your destination.
Sure we’ve gone on about it, but the rear seat really is an impressive place to travel, and when combined with the silky smooth drive train, acoustic glass, active noise control and suspension that feels like you could be riding on a cloud, it’s just about magical.
What is most evident in the 2019 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury is that you are getting a lot of car for the asking price. Coming in much cheaper than it’s main rivals such as the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 series and Audi A6, it makes a compelling case for itself.
The ES is a sophisticated and refined choice that is a joy to experience. Full of clever engineering that is crafted with precision, the 2019 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury may have a long name, but everyone will want to know your name when you arrive in one.
Our test vehicle was provided by Lexus Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury, contact your local Lexus dealer.