Penciling Out: The Case For The 2015 Lexus ES 300h

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid
The 2015 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid.
Yesterday's review of the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum and the 11.6 years it would take you to recoup the cost of it over the gasoline version in fuel savings may have some of you thinking hybrids are a bad deal or that Toyota doesn't know how to price them or get the best fuel savings from them.  Not true, as the 2015 Lexus ES 300h illustrates.

2015 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid.
2015 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid.

The ES300h (and its close cousin, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid) is a paragon of virtue and value. Consider: The base price of a gasoline-powered ES 350 is $37,550. The ES 300h starts at $40,430.  That's a difference of only $2880.

Now look at the fuel economy estimates from the EPA.  The ES 350 shows up as 21 city/31 highway.  But the ES 300h hybrid's estimates are 40 city/39 highway.  That's a significant difference, and the combination of a narrow gap in price and a wide one in fuel economy make it much easier for the hybrid model to pay for itself in fuel savings. The U.S. Department of Energy's Hybrid Cost Calculator  says that'll happen in 4.6 years, which is a fairly short period of time, likely within the period of your car loan.  And given Lexus' legendary reliability and high resale value, you might keep it for 8 or 10 years, making the long-term savings that much greater.

As for the car itself, the ES 300h is an exceptional value when it comes to the level of amenties for its base price of $40,430. As usual, we'll let Lexus itself handle the heavy lifting of detailing the exhaustive list of standard equipment. Just click here

Our test vehicle had options, but fewer than the 2014 model we tested last year.  It also features a significantly lower price for a popular option.  The Hard Drive Disk navigation system with backup camera, 8-inch VGA screen, voice command, single CD/DVD player, remote touch controller, Lexus Enform Destination Assist and app suite was $2,625 in 2014.  This year, it's only $1,795.  The cost of technology is going down.  Most automakers don't pass that along from year-to-year, making adjustments only when refreshing a model or introducing a new one.  Lexus is letting you keep $830 in your bank account.  Frankly, that is the sort of corporate behavior that should be acknowledged and rewarded with your business.

Other options: Heated and ventilated front seats ($640), intuitive parking assist ($500), the Premium Package (memory seats, outside mirrors and steering wheel, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, bamboo wood interior trim an remote keyless entry-linked memory for $730) and yet another cost saving over last year...the bamboo and leather-trimmed steering wheel that was $450 in 2014 is only $300 this year.

I did say "paragon of virtue and value", didn't I?

With $925 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of this Lexus 300h was $45,320. A bargain for the car itself, and when you factor in the fuel savings dividends that begin about four and a half years into ownership, the ES 300h becomes a very compelling automobile.