Lexus ES 300h shows how good the luxury side of a hybrid sedan can be

I would hear the sounds I’m familiar with. There was only one morning during my week when the hybrid didn’t switch over to gas and the car remained silent from my driveway to the end of the street.

The ES 300h features the fourth generation Lexus Hybrid Drive System that combines a 2.5-litre, Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine and 1.59 kWh nickel metal hydride battery for a combined 215 horsepower.

The engine alone provides 176 hp and the battery is stored under the floor so it doesn’t cut into any of the interior room.

Put your foot on the gas pedal and this Lexus can really move.

I was very impressed with how quickly the ES 300h jumped off the line and how quickly it got up to speed on the highway. In fact, I had to lift my foot of the gas a few times because I was going a little too fast.

The 300h, like all the ES models, has a drive mode selector that is a rotary knob placed sideways into the top right of the main instrument cluster.

Your choices are Eco, Normal and Sport. It is easy to access but I didn’t find the Sport mode enhanced the car’s ability to jump of the line. Where I did notice it was in the turns when the car felt tighter, more in control.

Other than those cold mornings, after a few days I stopped noticing when the car would shift from hybrid to the gasoline engine. That’s obviously a good sign as it means the car is doing its job.

The 300h has an EV mode button that tells the car to run on battery at low speeds but I never used it, as I was happy to let the car decide what was best.

As nice as the car runs, the real star of this Lexus is the interior. It is stunning, with one large exception.

More car manufacturers should take a look at what Lexus is doing and try to emulate it.

From the controls on the steering wheel to the 12.3-inch display screen, everything is right where it should be. The shifter is perfectly placed, the ventilation controls are easy to access and as I noted before, the driving modes are just a quick flick of your wrist away.

But not all is perfect.

The display is not a touchscreen so you have to use a tracking pad located just to the right of the shifter. I have read other reviews about how irritating the touch pad is and while I don’t always agree with other reviewers, on this occasion they are right.

This is the clunkiest system I have ever tried to use to control the display screen.

It doesn’t flow such as a touch pad on a laptop. Moving your finger across the touch pad sends the arrow to each box on the screen. But it jumps a lot and moving your finger too quickly sends the arrow flying past where you want it to go.

As well, it requires you to double check if you are on the right feature before you push down on the touch pad, taking your eyes off the road for a split second.

If Lexus would get rid of that touch pad and introduce a display screen similar to what Volkswagen offers, this sedan would be better off.

Standard safety features on the 300h include too many airbags to count.

The Lexus Safety System includes automatic high beams, dynamic range cruise control (which controls braking and acceleration when the cruise is on), pedestrian and bicycle detection and lane departure.

My tester for the week featured a $14,500 Ultra Luxury Package which added a number of higher-end features.

Those included 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels (as opposed to 17-inch); rear cross traffic alert; a bird’s eye view monitor; heads-up display; rain sensing wipers; the 12.3-inch display screen (as opposed to an eight-inch screen) and wireless smartphone charging.

I haven’t driven many luxury sedans but I liked this ES 300h a lot.

I did a lot of driving that week and too only spend $25 for gas was an eye opener. The price may be out of reach for some families but the gas savings and styling may be just enough to convince you to give this sedan a test drive.