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Hybrid vehicles are a hot ticket item in 2023, but many fall outside the average person’s budget. If you want any luxury features, that will push the price even further into unobtanium land. Thankfully, U.S News has put together a list of the best luxury vehicles available for under $30k. Unsurprisingly, this list is filled to the brim with Lexus models. Let’s take a look at the two highest ranked hybrids on the list and find out whether or not they are worthy of your investment.

A 2018 Lexus ES in the sunset.
An older Lexus ES | Lexus

Lexus dominates the list of best hybrids

Of the 43 cars included on this list, 22 adorn the Lexus badge on the front. For most buyers, the most important thing a Lexus offers over many other luxury cars is reliability and inexpensive maintenance. This is especially true when you’re working with a budget.

Weirdly, the top two vehicles on the list are the 2015 and 2014 Tesla Model S. Given the list is ranking hybrids not EVs, our two contenders from Lexus technically top the list. 

2015 and 2016 Lexus ES 300h

The 2015 and 2016 Lexus ES 300h top U.S News’ list of luxury hybrids under $30k in 2023. The 2016 comes in at No.3, and the 2015 model year comes in at No.4.

Unlike the non-hybrid ES 350, the ES hybrid ditches the 2GR-FE 3.5L V6 in exchange for a 2.5L Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder. This ultra efficient engine is paired with a 245-v NiMH battery and electric motors. This makes the ES 300h good for 200 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid is certainly down on power compared to the 268 hp V6, the 40 mpg city and 39 mpg highway is worth the trade-off.  

The 2015 models run much cheaper as they are pre-facelift. Both Lexus model years hail from the nameplate’s 6th generation, which ran from 2013-2018. The 2016 model year benefits from a facelift that brought with it updated exterior and interior styling which really elevates the feeling of luxury—especially in the cabin.

2015 models can be found between $20k-$29k on average, but examples over 100k miles can be snatched up for as low as $16k. 2016 models range between $26,900-$37,000, reports U.S News. That said, higher mileage 2016 models can be found in the low $20k range. 

Just how luxurious are these used Lexus ES Hybrids? 

Along with the reasonable pricing and excellent fuel economy, the Lexus ES Hybrid comes with some awesome features. The ES Hybrid has only one trim, so finding what you want should be a little more streamlined.

That said, not all features are standard, but most ES Hybrids have great features like heated and ventilated seats, heated mirrors, cruise control, a moonroof, and a push button start.

Other optional features include a heated steering wheel, a phenomenal 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, rain sensing wipers, and a whole host of safety features. Unfortunately, adaptive cruise and some other modern features were not offered until 2017, reports U.S News. Thankfully, no recalls are listed for the 2015 or 2016 ES Hybrid.

Not the most luxurious, but reliable, cheap, and efficient 

It’s true that the ES Hybrid, and arguably Lexus as a whole during this era, did not represent the cutting edge of technology. Despite this, the ES Hybrid is an incredibly quiet and comfortable daily driver that sports impressive fuel economy for a reasonable price.

Other cars listed like the Acura ILX Hybrid, BMW 3-Series Hybrid, and Infiniti Q50 Hybrid are all lovely cars and might even have better features and driving dynamics. But for the budget minded buyer, the best choice is by far the ES Hybrid. The cheap-to-maintain powertrain from the Camry and Avalon Hybrid, the fuel economy of a tiny hatchback, the price of a base Prius, and the comfort and luxury of a mid-size high-end sedan—what’s not to love? 


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