2023 Lexus ES 300h F Sport Review

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick


Engine: 2.5L I4 + hybrid
Output: 215 hp, 163 lb-ft
Transmission: eCVT, FWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 43/44/44
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 5.5/5.2/5.3
Starting Price (USD): $42,590 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $48,175 (inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $49,155 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $56,655 (inc. dest.)

Driving the 2023 Lexus ES 300h F Sport is like catching up with an old friend after a long spell and not missing a beat.

We last hung out almost exactly three years ago. I don’t need to tell you a lot has changed since. Yet the hybrid version of Lexus‘ standard-bearer sedan is a familiar presence.

That’s not to say the Japanese company has let this four-door stagnate. It’s become smarter, with a vastly improved infotainment system and better standard safety kit. With the F Sport trim available on the ES 300h since last year, it’s gone to the gym, too—or at least bought a bright pair of Nikes for the trip there. Despite the looks, this is still a big luxury sedan that puts comfort at the top of the priority list, and that makes it an appealing all-rounder.

Get a Quote on a New 2023 Lexus ES

What’s new?

Lexus treated the ES range to a subtle facelift last year. We’re talking blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stuff: subtly different checkmark LEDs here, a tweaked bumper design there, things like that. Maybe it’s my own advancing years, but the ES is one of the more handsome luxury sedans on the market these days. The design emphasizes the length of the car, and it manages to maintain a distinct three-box silhouette with a sense of flow between the volumes. The brilliant blue paint certainly doesn’t hurt, either. The flashes of chrome bring the right level of fanciness, too. I’m over the black-wheel trend, however, especially as they catch every instance of salt in the winter.

As part of last year’s update, Lexus banished its maligned infotainment touchpad to the bin. This year sees another upgrade, as the old operating system waves goodbye, and Lexus Interface slots in. The new system comes on either 8.0- or 12.3-inch screens, featuring vastly improved graphics and response times. There’s also an accurate voice assistant to handle a multitude of tasks.

One area that hasn’t changed is the engine lineup. Lexus still does things a little differently: in the US, both the all-wheel drive ES 250 and front-drive ES 350 start at the same price, giving buyers the choice of all-weather traction or smooth V6 power. The ES 300h hybrid model still figures into the picture too, with greatly improved fuel economy. That’s the one we’ve got here, with one of the two available F Sport packages.

Visual aggression, not literal aggression

No matter which side of the border you reside on, this is known as the 2023 Lexus ES 300h F Sport Design. In comes a unique grille insert, a smattering of gloss black details, and black, 19-inch alloy wheels. The F Sport models also unlock two unique colors: Ultra White and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0. (Yes, there’s a certain bit of irony that the Ultra Luxury trim can’t come with either of the “Ultra” hues.)

There’s also an F Sport Handling package (dubbed F Sport 2 in Canada). This one adds, amongst other things, a “sport-tuned” suspension, adaptive dampers, different seats, and what Lexus calls “performance-inspired instrumentation.”

No offence to Lexus product planners, but that all sounds anathema to the ES experience. As is on the standard suspension, the F Sport Design remains one of the most comfortable methods of transport $50,000 or so can buy. The suspension is soft but not wallowy, with body lean reasonably well-contained. The ES dispatches speed bumps with a smoothness (and speed) that nothing I’ve driven this side of an S-Class has matched. The steering is light and feel-free, but the ES goes where you point it without any fuss. The brakes have a strong, consistent bite, with none of the grabbiness that hampered earlier hybrids.

Gruff hybrid drivetrain

If only the drivetrain were as laidback as the rest of the ES package. The 300h employs the same 2.5-liter inline-four setup as so many other Lexus and Toyota hybrid products, though this one can’t be had with all-wheel drive. With 215 combined horsepower, it’s not the power that disappoints.

It’s the way the gas engine comes on-stream with all the subtlety of the Inception soundtrack. Around town, the Lexus requires a very delicate foot to stay in electric-only mode, and even then, it lasts a few blocks at most. It’s at these speeds where the coarse four-pot is impossible to ignore. The electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) doesn’t help either, almost immediately introducing the gas engine at a few thousand rpm. At highway speeds, where increased road noise can mask the wakeup, it’s far less noticeable.

At least the 300h powertrain sure is frugal. On a bitterly cold week that saw some snow, the ES sipped fuel at just 35.6 mpg (6.6 L/100 km). That’s some way shy of the official figures, but again: winter. Curiously, Lexus doesn’t quote different fuel economy figures for the hybrid F Sport models, but the gas F Sports are slightly thirstier than their respective siblings.

Comfy cabin experience

The ES cabin remains a comfortable, easy space to watch the miles roll away under those 19-inch wheels. The seats are super comfortable; the F Sport Handling swaps in thrones with bigger, boxier bolsters, and that just seems wrong. These ones still offer (very) effective heating and ventilation, anyway.

Space is good, with ample stretch-out room in the back. Headroom can be a little tight for taller folks, as is the case in every modern Toyota and Lexus car. The trunk is huge at 17.0 cubic feet (481 liters), though the rear seats don’t fold.

Lexus remodeled the dashboard to make way for its new infotainment system. There’s still plenty of physical buttons though, which makes muscle memory actions easy. The afore-mentioned seat (and wheel) temperature controls are a bit of a stretch however, tucked under the dashboard. The dual-zone climate controls could be dials instead of toggles, too.

Fit and finish are typical Lexus great, with one exception: the center console storage lid. This opens from both sides, and the passenger-side gap was so big we could see into the cubby when it was closed.

Strong tech lineup

Another ES strength is its standard driver assist and tech suite. Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 comes on all models, bundling adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, automated emergency braking, and emergency steering assist together. The radar-based cruise control system is still timid, and exhibits more adjustments to stay in its lane than competitors’ systems, but most luxury brands still charge extra for these sorts of things.

The ES earns the Most Improved Infotainment system award for the class of 2019, when this generation debuted. At launch, owners were saddled with an old user interface and the terrible touchpad. The latter disappeared last year, and the current Lexus Interface appears for 2023. It’s easy to use, features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and looks sharp.

Dollars and sense

In America, Lexus lists the 2023 ES range from an entirely reasonable $42,590, including destination. Want the hybrid? That’ll be an extra $1,200. The F Sport Design is one rung up from the “base,” ringing in at $48,175.

In Canada, the lineup begins with the ES 250 ($49,155 CAD); the ES 350 is pricier ($52,855 CAD), and the 300h at the top ($54,805 CAD, all including destination). As is the case south of the border, the F Sport Design is the next trim up, requiring an $1,850 surcharge for those sportier looks.

Verdict: 2023 Lexus ES 300h F Sport Review

The 2023 Lexus ES 300h F Sport nails the traditional idea of a luxury sedan. This is a comfort-first approach … and comfort-second. Maybe comfort-third.

A fuel-sipping hybrid powertrain makes a ton of sense given that priority, even if this one lacks the refinement one expects for the big L badge. The easy-going thrust of the V6 is tempting, but 50-percent better fuel economy makes the 300h the smart play.

In a time where nearly every high-end car is itching to set a lap time, the ES 300h is a reminder that laidback is luxury.


How much does the 2023 Lexus ES cost?

The 2023 Lexus ES lineup kicks off at $42,590 including destination, for either the ES 250 AWD or ES 350. In Canada, the ES 250 runs $49,155 CAD, and the ES 350 $52,855 CAD.

Is the Lexus ES bigger than a Toyota Camry?

Yes, the ES is a larger vehicle than the Camry, even though both share a platform.

Does the ES 350 come with AWD?

No: only the base ES 250 engine can come with AWD. The ES 350 and ES 300h are front-drive only.

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  • Calm, smooth ride
  • Stylish looks
  • Great infotainment and value


  • Noisy gas engine
  • eCVT likes the drone
  • Hybrid is front-drive only
Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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