2021 Lexus ES 300h: Lithium-ion battery adds trunk space to 44-mpg hybrid sedan

The 2021 Lexus ES 300h hybrid sedan gets a handful of changes for the new model year, including a new, more compact, lithium-ion battery pack.

Switching from nickel-metal hydride to lithium-ion chemistry allowed for a 4.7-inch reduction in the height of the pack, Lexus said in a press release Thursday. That, along with a more compact cooling system, allowed the pack to be moved from the trunk to under the rear seats.

The new layout frees up trunk space, and improves front-to-rear weight distribution, which benefits handling, Lexus said.

Generally, Lexus and parent Toyota have said that the choice between nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion largely has to do with the supply chain—and whatever works best to keep that smooth and local. That’s what the company again recently stated about the Toyota Venza hybrid crossover.

In the ES 300h, the new battery pack is paired with a carryover hybrid system, with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine as the gasoline component. Total system output is unchanged at 215 horsepower, as are EPA fuel-economy ratings of 44 mpg combined (43 mpg city, 44 mpg highway).

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