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2019 Lexus ES 300h vs Toyota Camry Hybrid Review

The Lexus ES used to have the unenviable reputation of being a tarted up Toyota Camry, and to some degree, it still is. However, that changed in 2013 as the separation became more significant and apparent, as the ES went through a growth spurt that saw it grew in size and luxury compared to the Camry.

While it’s relatively unlikely that anyone considering a Camry might cross shop against the more expensive ES, what about the other way round? Should ES buyers trade the leather lounges and barista made lattes in a Lexus showroom and mingle with the high-vis clad tradies of a Toyota dealership?

After all, the savings are not insignificant with at least $18,800 separating the cheapest Lexus ES against the most expensive Toyota Camry hybrid.

Both are equipped with the same 2.5-litre direct-injected in-line four-cylinder petrol engine producing 131kW and 221Nm coupled with an 88kW electric motor for a combined output of 160kW and 221Nm of torque.

While the ES supplied for the test is the range-topping $74,888 ES 300h Sports Luxury with tonnes of luxury and safety features, forgoing some of these frivolities could save you $15,000 with the $59,888 ‘base’ ES 300h Luxury.

Will the argument stack up? Let’s find out…

What’s to like about the Lexus ES

Despite sharing the same TNGA platform with the latest Toyota Camry, the Lexus ES is bigger all round except in height, where both models stand 1,445mm tall. That means the ES offers more passenger room as well as a bigger boot.

Its scrumptious electric front seats also have a wider range of adjustment, including height and lumbar support. Meanwhile, only the driver gets electric seat adjustments on the Camry, with lumbar support and height adjustments also reserved for the driver.

The ES also comes standard with a massive 12.3-inch display screen compared to the Camry’s meagre 8.0-inch display. The graphics though are similar on both models, which takes the shine off the ES a little given its premium positioning.

But the main reason to pay more for the Lexus ES 300h is for the wider range of standard safety kit.

There are 10 airbags including rear seats side airbags, rear cross traffic alert, active lane keep assist and active bonnet, on top of shared active safety systems like autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

The Sport Luxury also brings features that are unavailable on the Camry such as a 360-degree camera and matrix LED headlights.

Finally, there’s those lattes and leather lounges, not to mention free loan cars and Lexus’ excellent level of customer service, which is almost unmatched by other manufacturers, including Toyota.

What’s to like about the Toyota Camry

Value is the name of the game. As mentioned before, the top of the range Camry SL hybrid is nearly $19,000 cheaper than the ES 300h Luxury.

Besides being far less expensive to buy, the Camry is also much cheaper to run, thanks to Toyota’s capped price servicing which costs just $195/service for the first four years or 60,000km.

Meanwhile, Lexus does not offer any capped price servicing, so expect to pay a lot more than $195/service.

The Toyota also comes with five years/unlimited kilometre warranty while Lexus only offers four years/100,000km.

In terms of running costs, the lighter Camry hybrid sips 4.5L/100km compared to the slightly heavier and thirstier ES 300h’s 4.6L/100km. Both require at least 95RON petrol.

Inside, we find that despite its smaller screen size, the Camry’s touchscreen infotainment system is more pleasing to use compare to the ES 300h’s tedious Remote Touch control pad.

What about the driving and ride comfort?

Here, you will find the more you pay, the better it gets especially in ride comfort. Lexus is known for its plush ride and the ES has almost LS level of ride quality, ironing out all but the nastiest of road pimples with aplomb.

It’s also incredibly quiet, with hardly a whisper of wind or road noise. That’s not to say the Camry hybrid is noisy. Far from it, it’s one of the most refined in its class but it pales next to the ES 300h’s vacuum like silence.

When it comes to driving, both are neck-to-neck in the way they handle, which is relatively good.

The TNGA platform, of course, is a good start. With a lower centre of gravity than ever before, you feel the road better in both cars. The steering is direct, if a little aloof, and the tyres offer excellent grip.

The hybrid powertrain is smooth and the transition from electric only to petrol-electric is almost imperceptible.

Verdict

There’s no doubt the Lexus ES 300h is the better car, but is it $19,000 better than the Camry? On paper, it’s a resounding no as you get very similar driving experience.

However, what’s harder to quantify is the ‘Lexus experience’. You immediately feel like a VIP when you walk into a Lexus showroom and their customer service is consistently rated one of the best in the industry. It’s an economy class versus business class argument.

If your wallet is deep enough, why not?!

2019 Lexus ES 300h2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Design & Comfort8.0/108.0/10
Performance & Handling8.5/108.5/10
Quality8.5/108.5/10
Economy8.0/108.5/10
Equipment & Features8.5/108.0/10
Our Score
Pros·       Excellent refinement

·       Beautiful craftsmanship

·       Smooth drivetrain

·       Great customer service

·       Good handling

·       Good refinement

·       Much cheaper to buy and run

·       Similarly smooth drivetrain

·       Better warranty

·       Bigger boot

– Cons·       Expensive to buy and maintain

·       Resale isn’t as good as the Camry

·       Lacks some of the safety features of the Lexus

·       Interior a little bland

Pricing and specifications

 2019 Lexus ES 300h2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Price (Excluding on-road costs):From: $59,888

As tested: $76,388 (ES 300h Sports Luxury

Tested options:

·       Premium Silver Metallic paint – $1,500

From: $30,090

As tested: $41,090 (Camry SL Hybrid)

Warranty:4 years/100,000 km5 years/unlimited km
Warranty Customer Service:4 year roadside assistN/A
Country of Origin:JapanJapan
Service Intervals:12 months/15,000km12 months/15,000km
Engine:2.0-litre direct injected in-line four-cylinder petrol:

131kW @ 5,700rpm, 221Nm @ 3,600-5,200rpm

Electric Motor:

88kW

Combined Total: 160kW/221Nm

2.0-litre direct injected in-line four-cylinder petrol:

131kW @ 5,700rpm, 221Nm @ 3,600-5,200rpm

Electric Motor:

88kW

Combined Total: 160kW/221Nm

Transmission:CVT automaticCVT automatic
Drivetrain:Front-wheel driveFront-wheel drive
Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):93.899.7
0-100km/h (seconds):8.9N/A
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):Claimed: 4.6/Tested: 4.8Claimed: 4.5/Tested: 4.7
Fuel Capacity (L):5050
RON Rating:9595
Body:4-door sedan, 5 seats4-door sedan, 5 seats
Safety:·       5-star ANCAP

·       10 airbags

·       Pre-Collision Safety System

·       Autonomous Emergency Braking

·       Lane Departure Alert with steering assist

·       Auto High Beam

·       Adaptive Matrix LED headlights

·       Active Cruise Control

·       VSC, TRC ABS, EBD

·       Brake Assist

·       Brake Hold

·       Blind Spot Monitor

·       Rear Cross Traffic Alert

·       Reversing camera with guide lines

·       360-degree camera

·       ISOFIX

·       5-star ANCAP

·       7 airbags

·       Pre-Collision Safety System

·       Autonomous Emergency Braking

·       Lane Departure Alert with passive steering

·       Auto High Beam

·       LED headlights

·       Active Cruise Control

·       VSC, TRC, ABS, EBD

·       Brake Assist

·       Brake Hold

·       Blind Spot Monitor

·       Reversing camera with guide lines

·       ISOFIX

Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B):4,975/1,864/1,445/2,8704,905/1,840/1,445/2,825
Turning Circle Between Kerbs:12.412.4
Ground Clearance:150N/A
Kerb Weight (kg):1,7401,635
Boot Space (L):454524
Towing Capacity (kg):Braked: 400/Unbraked: 400Braked: 400/Unbraked: 400
Entertainment:·       12.3-inch LCD with Lexus Remote Touch

·       10-speakers Pioneer surround sound (Luxury)/17-speakers Mark Levinson surround sound (Sports Luxury)

·       AM/FM/DAB+

·       AUX and USB

·       Bluetooth

·       Satellite Navigation

·       8.0-inch touchscreen with Toyota Link

·       6-speakers

·       AM/FM/DAB+

·       AUX and USB

·       Bluetooth

·       Satellite Navigation

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