Lexus ES 300h F Sport is comfy, efficient, but not fun
Another well-made Lexus product that is properly luxurious and fuel efficient, and that's it.
2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport review with The Road Beat
Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman
If you want a luxurious full-size sedan that rations gasoline for around $50,000, then congratulations - you found it. There might an 'F Sport' badge and moniker attached, but rest assured that this Lexus is a sport in name only and appearance. As an upscale alternative to the now-discontinued Toyota Avalon, this front-wheel drive barge is one of the most expensive front-drive cars you can buy, but that doesn't make it a bad choice. Sure, you can have German offerings for the same price, but they're not going to be nearly as large and they won't have any options attached. If wanting a true and vast luxury car, this is a pretty bona fide pick for that 50-large mark, but just don't go thinking it's going to be a fun one, too. If you're the creative type, look away, but if you want safe and dependable, something I would consider boring, this is a solid choice.
The headlining feature of the ES 300h is the hybrid powertrain that achieved 39 MPG during our week together. That number does fall five short of the EPA's estimate displayed on the window sticker, but 39 is no slouch nonetheless, handily beating any alternative in this class of vehicles. So, now you can spend extra on that luxurious car, and also save some money at the pump, too. What you do sacrifice is any ounce of real performance, as this four-cylinder miser produces a combined 215 horsepower combined with the modest electric motors. 0-60 MPH does take 8 seconds, so it's not hopeless, but it belies any notion of sport, rendering the F Sport badge meaningless. That said, the powertrain is very smooth in operation, and the four-cylinder is behaved most of the time, with the traditionally nasty coarseness (inherent in four-cylinders) well-suppressed in this application.
Handling is competent in normal driving, with accurate and surprisingly good steering, but anything further is met with reluctance. Again, the F Sport badge is highly misleading and should not be treated as anything extra than a cool bit of body kit. What the ES 300h does excel at is highway cruising, and really just any kind of relaxed normal driving. With soft suspension and low wind noise, this makes for a extremely comfortable car in a variety of conditions. With how important comfort is for a luxury car, I'd call that a job done well.
Inside is a leather-wrapped interior fashioned to the high-quality that you would come to expect from Lexus. It's not an exciting interior, but everything you come into contact with feels substantial and just plain-old nice. The leather and dash and door panel coverings are all supple as well, not to mention the seats being perfected for lounging. Leg room in the back seat is also quite abundant, making it an ideal car for long drives for multiple passengers on this business-class leisure express.
It's a shame that this 2022 model still had the horrid, just horrid Lexus infotainment system that became a staple of their very identity. I'm so tired of explaining, so I'll just say it's an abomination plain and simple. Luckily (!), the 2024 model will see it replaced with a vastly improved system, even if it still isn't without fault; this does fix one the primary complaints with living with a modern Lexus.
And so there you go. It's a large sedan that is very comfortable, it's well-made luxury paired to a roomy, quiet, and relaxing demeanor on the road. What it's missing, though, is anything resembling the notion of fun. I like the F Sport for the sharp looks alone, but don't go thinking this can compete with a BMW with an M badge, or a Benz flashing AMG on its rump. Where you will win is in trips to the pump. With the ability to average almost 40 MPG, you can spend on a nice car plus save some cash in the long run. What's an alternative? Check out the Genesis G80. It basically does everything the same except it looks better, murders the ES in raw performance and is a hoot to drive quickly when you want, but its four-cylinder averages only 27 MPG versus nearly 40. The ES is not for everyone, and it might be commonly associated with the elderly for lots of the reasons I mentioned. It's a good car that delivers fantastic gas mileage, but by lacking everywhere else including driving pleasure, the Genesis G80 is the class of the field at a killer entry price.
2022 Lexus ES 300h F Sport
As-tested price: $52,695
Pros: Efficient, comfortable, quality
Cons: Slow and not fun