2015 Lexus ES350 Hybrid

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An Affection for the Human Soul

Luxury is often represented in the form of computer generated numbers, eye candy or even what the younger generation would dub it, “pimp factor”. While Lexus generally holds all three qualities, it also embraces a fourth attribute that can’t really be measured; but rather judged by human impression. It’s also the single attribute most luxury cars lack in which, separates the Lexus ES350 from the competing bunch.

A Definition of Premium

The exterior of the Lexus ES350 can be best described as a symphony of maturity and style. Front fascia is very well sculpted with its signature spindle front grille and razor-like LED day-time running lights. Its rear curve lines are also kept simple, but conforms well with thanks to its faux spoiler and stacked LED tail lights. Its side view is where the Lexus ES350 shows a bit of its age. Side body panels remain bland but visually sparked by an athletic side skirt. However, its low hanging doors and streamline silhouette roof line still puts the Lexus ES350 well into the class of good looks.

The Lexus ES350 base model can be had for as little as $44,000. To avoid buyer’s remorse and complicated purchase options, Lexus offers package options as purchase upgrades. Our particular test model came equipped with the an $8,900 executive package that includes pretty much all the luxury amenities you could ask for. This list includes Heated Wood Steering Wheel , Mark Levinson Audio , 15 Speakers , 8″ display screen , Pre Collision System , Lane Departure Alert , Blind Spot Monitor , Rear Cross Traffic Alert , Driver Variable Cushion Length (Power) , Memory , Premium Leather Seat Surfaces , Dynamic Radar Cruise Control , Intuitive Parking Assist , Power Rear Window Sunshade , Rear Door Sunshade , Automatic Powered Opening Trunk , Easy Close Trunk , Compass in Navigation Display , Remove Compass in Rear View Mirror , Rain Sensing Wipers , Woodgrain Trim , Automatic High Beam , Auto-leveling HID Headlamps , Premium Illuminated Entry System.

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Interior Appreciation

Not much has been changed from last year’s revision, but a quick drive off the lot quickly reminds you of how good the interior cabin space really is. Quality of materials used throughout are exceptional. Add in the the ultra-quiet cabin space to the pro’s list as well.

Lexus claims that the latest and greatest Mark Levinson audio system “integrates a new audio restoration technology that was introduced in high-end home systems only recently.” I can’t say for a fact that it’s simply just better, but for previous generations of the Lexus ES350, audio quality has always been supreme thanks to its well insulated interior and high quality materials used for its audio speakers.

The Hybrid Experience

Lexus has also incorporated its renowned hybrid power train into its Lexus ES350 incorporating a 2.5L 4 cylinder engine along with an electric induction motor. Coupled to its drive shaft is a CVT transmission to help improve fuel economy.

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It’s every bit as smooth as its more pure-bred V6 but with a bit more complication in its torque path. The good news is, driver’s can control how their engine performs based on how deep they press the accelerator pedal. Be gentle, or aggressive, and the MPG’s directly show.

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The Lexus ES350 also features a drive selector mode including ECO, Normal and Sport mode where ECO mode provides a more laid back driving mode with relaxed pedal mapping and steering. Flicking the drive selector to Sport mode disables the electric motor to offer a pure driving experience by solely utilizing the onboard gasoline engine.

To Go Hybrid or Not

The added battery pack and electric induction motor does put on more weight in the Lexus ES300H, but steering precision and agility is still sharp and very capable around corners as long as you don’t have high sports-car performance expectations.

Generally speaking, the choice of hybrid has always been tailored more towards the choice of eco-concern than recuperating fuel costs. And the fuel consumption on our test drive shows. Although EPA ratings for the Lexus ES300 hybrid scores in at 40MPG city and highway, we achieved anywhere between 26 to 33 MPG. Not to say it’s not possible to hit that 40 MPG. Be gentle and conservative with the gas pedal while using the ECO drive mode will surely reward you with reduced fill-ups at the pump.

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As much as one can enjoy and appreciate the effort made by technology to minimized fuel consumption, you simply just can’t beat the organic behavior and the shear level of driving enjoyment missed by a more powerful and naturally aspirated V6. It’s also lighter and slightly cheaper with its base model priced in at about $3,000 less with its power output rated at 268 horsepower. But ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either. Both models offer what the Lexus ES350H endears, and that’s the tranquility and enjoyment that takes out every bit of stress and annoyance from driving.

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Specifications

 

  • Vehicle : 2015 Lexus ES350H
  • Model : Lexus ES350H Hybrid
  • Price as Tested : $55,027
  • Vehicle Type : 5 Passenger Sedan
  • Seating Capacity : 2+3
  • Powertrain Configuration : FWD
  • Engine : 2.5L Hybrid Synergy Drive
  • Transmission : CVT
  • Fuel Economy: 40/40 MPG City/Highway
  • Additional Features : Executive Package – Heated Wood Steering Wheel , Mark Levinson Audio , 15 Speakers , 8″ display screen , Pre Collision System , Lane Departure Alert , Blind Spot Monitor , Rear Cross Traffic Alert , Driver Variable Cushion Length (Power) , Memory , Premium Leather Seat Surfaces , Dynamic Radar Cruise Control , Intuitive Parking ¬†Assist , Power Rear Window Sunshade , Rear Door Sunshade , Automatic Powered Opening Trunk , Easy Close Trunk , Compass in Navigation Display , Remove Compass in Rear View Mirror , Rain Sensing Wipers , Woodgrain Trim , Automatic High Beam , Auto-leveling HID Headlamps , Premium Illuminated Entry System

Pros

  • Exceptional ride quality and comfort
  • Top quality material used
  • Excellent fuel economy (if driven conservatively)
  • Allows drivers to select between ECO and Performance mode with drive mode select

Cons

  • Slightly numbed driving enthusiasm in favor for ultimate drive comfort