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Road trip: 2014 Lexus ES300h Hybrid achieves 42.88 mpg

What kind of fuel-economy can you actually get with the 2014 Lexus ES300h Hybrid? It advertises 40 mpg, but can you really achieve this in the real world? That is the question we set to answer in our recent road trip test.

2014 Lexus ES300h Hybrid achieves 42.88 mpg
2014 Lexus ES300h Hybrid achieves 42.88 mpg
Sam Haymart
2014 Lexus ES300h Hybrid achieves 42.88 mpg
Sam Haymart

Beginning at Old Town Scottsdale, AZ we decided to take the 2014 Lexus ES300h Hybrid luxury sedan on a road trip to Kingman, AZ to test the car and review all its qualities. The larger goal was to see if it meets or exceeds the 40 mpg promised by the window sticker.

The Lexus ES300h Hybrid starts at $39,500 and compares to vehicles like the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid or even its corporate cousin the Toyota Avalon Hybrid.

A front-wheel drive sedan, it has the fashionable and artistic style that makes it an attractive option for luxury car buyers. Up front the Lexus spindle grille wraps down into a deeply creased front fascia. LED jeweled headlamps are sharp with signature daytime running lights.

The overall silhouette of the ES300his crisp and simple, using sculpted creases and artistic twists for its design detail. While shared mechanically with the aforementioned Toyota Avalon in chassis and power-train, the Lexus ES300hhas a body and interior all its own, sharing no visual cues.

Under the hood is Toyota and Lexus’ well proven hybrid drive system which starts with a highly efficient 2.5 liter Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine. It’s mated up to a constantly variable transmission with two electric motors for a total system 200 horsepower.

The power-train can power the ES300hon electric or gas power, or both for maximum output. The EPA rates the ES300hat 40 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, and 40 mpg combined.

Our Lexus ES300h was optioned with the Ultra Luxury Package which brings the interior to an even higher level of comfort and appeal than the standard ES. In addition to the semi-Analine leather and bamboo, the front seats are both heated and ventilated. They both offer power adjustments and memory too.

A power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, sunshades for the rear passenger windows, and ambient lighting come along with that package as well. Topping it off, ours was optioned with the heated leather and bamboo steering wheel.

While we always recommend the top-end Mark Levinson sound system, our tester didn’t have it. The optioned HDD navigation and audio system did however sound good. Its 8” screen was easy to see with menus easy to navigate while on the road, with the console mounted puck.

Rear seat room is generous as the ES300hhas a relatively long 111” wheelbase. Trunk space for luggage is generous as well despite some of the cargo area taken up by the hybrid battery.

While the dashboard trip computer can tell us the instant and average fuel economy, we always measure fuel used against real miles for our challenge. So we topped off the tank, zeroed out the trip odometer, and sealed the gas tank before we got underway.

Upon leaving the gas station we found ourselves up to our shoulders in stop-and-go traffic. Luckily this is where hybrid cars thrive. The stopping charges the battery, keeps it up. That battery can then push us around at slower speeds much better.

Once on the freeway and out of the Phoenix area, our challenge began to get more complicated. Freeway driving isn’t always where a hybrid does well. In this case we were already seeing 41 plus mpg just outside of town.

We had mountains yet to get through, so there we would see how this power-train really stacks up when it has to pull the ES300h up steep passes.

Passing through Wickenburg, AZ we got back to a few miles of city driving. We had managed to get over 42 mpg on our trip average thus far, but more mountains ahead meant this may not last. The large screen display of either the energy monitor or real time fuel economy stats was an excellent coach.

While the mountain ranges really hit our mpg average, the last ten miles rolling into Wikieup, AZ was all down hill. This pushed us well up to 43 plus mpg as we made our way through the sleepy outpost. Wikieup is essentially a tourist trap with three gas stations, and not much else.

From there we were back up into the mountains and using fuel less economically. The good news is with a hybrid is that what you use going up hills, you get back going down. Coasting down the passes, the engine is often idling or off, the motors charging your battery. Bonus.

As we roll into Kingman, we pulled into the gas station with the trip computer reading 42.6 mpg. This is good, but is it accurate? To find out, we topped off the tank which took 4.5 gallons. Dividing that into the 193 miles of our trip gave us a trip average of 42.88 mpg.

Considering the 2014 Lexus ES300h Hybrid is rated at 40 mpg combined we consider this well above average, especially given the mountainous trek of our drive route. Considering this is a near full-sized luxury car it’s all that more impressive.

While the 2014 Lexus ES300h does start at an MSRP of $39,500, ours was well optioned. With all the packages and individual options ours came in at a hefty $48,459 including destination. That may seem spendy, but you can go well further than this as there were some options not added.

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