2023 Lexus ES 350 F Sport First Drive: Same, Same, But Less Efficient
Last year, I had the privilege of driving the 2022 Lexus ES 300h for a week and gushed over how quiet and comfortable it was. However, the best part about it was its 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain that returned around 40 mpg after a week of driving it. That said, it was quite the triple threat for providing a smooth ride, a plush interior, and a long time between gas station visits.
This week, I’m driving the ES 300h’s gas-only counterpart – the 2023 Lexus ES 350 F Sport. It’s outfitted with all of the same equipment as last year’s test car, but it’s slightly less fuel-efficient.
The 2023 Lexus ES 350 F Sport is more powerful and less efficient
The engine under the hood is the main difference between the 2023 Lexus ES 350 F Sport and the ES 300h that I drove last year. This gas-only ES 350 utilizes a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 302 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, which is the same V6 that can be found in most Toyota products. I can’t blame them, considering it’s a reliable, smooth engine that provides plenty of thrust to get onto the freeway and pass cars at speed.
The ES 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain that pushes out 215 hp. It’s no slouch since it has help from the electric motor, but it’s definitely a little slower.
According to Lexus, the gas-only variant will go from 0 to 60 mph in only 6.6 seconds compared to the hybrid’s 8.1-second time. Those numbers may not mean much to luxury car shoppers, but they are a huge difference nonetheless.
Of course, the most important number when comparing the two different trim levels is the gas mileage. The ES 300h can get up to 43 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway, which led to a typical average of around 40 mpg in our real-world testing.
On the other hand, the EPA estimates that the gas-powered ES can get up to 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. So far, we have averaged around 23 mpg in the real world. That’s a pretty huge difference.
2023 Lexus ES 300h versus the ES 300: Which one should you choose?
If you value fuel efficiency, the choice is clear. Both trim levels cost around $49,000, so I would recommend the Lexus ES 300h if you need the most miles per gallon. However, if you like having some power to go with your luxurious experience, the ES 350 won’t let you down. Its throttle is responsive, and the engine note sounds great when you floor the skinny pedal. Additionally, the added performance works well with the F Sport package.
What’s in the F Sport package?
As stated above, both of my Lexus ES test cars came equipped with the F Sport package. This package includes features like a stiffer suspension, bolstered front seats, and F Sport styling cues. Some of those cues include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, F Sport aluminum pedals, a sportier front fascia, and a rear spoiler.
Overall, it’s a great package if you want some sportiness from your Lexus ES, but in my opinion, it’s a little unnecessary. The seats are supportive, and the suspension does feel a little tighter, but considering the car is meant for comfort, I’d rather not have them.
But if you want to feel sporty and luxurious at the same time, the 2023 Lexus ES 350 F Sport could be for you. Just don’t expect stellar fuel efficiency figures.