2023 Lexus ES300
Better Inside, Better Overall
The Lexus ES has been around since Toyota launched their luxury division in 1989. Now to some, the ES is just an over-polished Camry, but to many it has been the gateway to all that Lexus has to offer, helping create lifelong fans of the brand. Now in its 7th generation, the ES gets updated for 2023, so let’s see the latest it has to offer to luxury minded buyers on a budget.
For well over 30-years now, the Lexus ES has done an excellent job making a true no compromise luxury experience highly attainable. Then, when this 7th generation debuted for 2019, it added F Sport performance to the lineup for the first time, and this Elegant Sedan became a whole lot more enjoyable to drive.
For 2023, the changes may be more focused, but they also make the ES a lot easier to live with. That’s primarily a result of Lexus addressing the one thing we found most frustrating about the ES, the fussy console-mounted Remote Touch Interface.
Well, fussy no more as the entire center console has been reworked with a big pad for wireless phone charging and larger cupholder space. You see, whether you stick with the standard 8-inch or go for the optional 12-inch infotainment screen, it’s now a touchscreen. It also has higher resolution, works with typical smartphone like interaction, and allows for wireless integration of both Apple and Android devices.
While nothing really changes outside, another important update for ‘23 is that instead of one specific F Sport model, new multi-tiered packaging allows you to have the look, without going all in. New F Sport Design gets you the gloss black 19-inch alloys, plus the F Sport front bumper, grille, and rear spoiler. Then, F Sport Handling adds Sport+ and Custom drive modes, F Sport suspension tuning for the Adaptive Variable Suspension, F Sport steering wheel, and aluminum interior trim. Sunroof remains standard for all ES trims, as is full LED lighting, though Lexus’ triple beam headlights are an upgrade.
Despite being a mid-level Lexus sedan, and taking on a racier vibe with the F Sport additions, the interior remains very plush and right in line with what we’ve come to expect from the brand. Front seats are quite comfortable, with nice wide cushions; room in the back is more than plentiful for adults.
While the available 302-horsepower V6 is fantastic, unless you’re always in a hurry, we feel this ES hybrid is the way to go, as it delivers adequate power with exceptional fuel economy. The 2.5-liter I4 based system is familiar Toyota and Lexus fare at this point, outputting a combined 215-horsepower and achieving Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 43-City, 44-Highway, and 44-Combined; thus, our 43.8 miles-per-gallon average of Regular was right on. That’s a much better than average Energy Impact Score of 6.8-barrels of yearly oil use, with 3.3-tons of CO2 emissions.
Not only does the hybrid feel plenty quick for everyday, but it allows you to get almost 700-miles per tankful. All-wheel drive is still available too, using the 2.5’s non-hybrid version with a 203-horsepower rating.
The phrase “smooth as a Lexus” exists for a reason, as even with F Sport tuning, the ride is quite luxury car like, which is to say very soft, but not quite floaty. That keeps it out of true sport sedan territory, but it still equated itself well enough at our Mason Dixon handling course. Adding both F-Sport packages paid off with very little body roll, almost instantaneous steering response, and a surprisingly good amount of feedback. It felt very neutral through the cones, and getting the car to its limits and keeping it there was quite easy without developing significant amounts of understeer or oversteer.
Less of a thrill ride off the line, with a leisurely 7.8-second stroll to 60, and ¼-mile time of 16.0-seconds flat at 89 miles-per-hour. The hybrid works with a CVT, which is rarely our favorite choice, and probably won’t be yours either unless you enjoy spending extended periods of time hanging out at 5,500-rpm.
As for pricing, the all-wheel drive 250 and front-wheel drive 350 share base pricing of $43,090; with the 300h hybrid a bargain, only $1,400 more at $44,490.
Since 1989, this Elegant Sedan has always offered a variety of powertrains to both appeal to and satisfy a wide range of buyers, and it has also been quite successful at introducing Americans to the finer things in the automotive life without breaking the bank. Now, with its revamped interior, we think the 2023 Lexus ES is finer than ever.
- Engine: 2.5-liter I4
- 0-60 mph: 7.8 seconds
- EPA: 43 City / 44 Highway / 44 Combined
- Horsepower: 215
- 1/4 Mile: 16.0-seconds at 89 mph
- MW Fuel Economy: 43.8 MPG (Regular)