Face-Off: Lexus ES vs. Toyota Avalon

Despite similarities, the sedans have big differences you should consider

The Lexus ES (left) and the Toyota Avalon (right)

There’s a reason Lexus and Toyota often sit next to each other in Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings: They’re made by the same manufacturer. It’s often the case that a Lexus is a more luxurious version of a Toyota vehicle.

Case in point: the Lexus ES and Toyota Avalon. At their core, these are the same basic car, down to identical lengths, widths, heights, and wheelbases.  

Both were redesigned for the 2019 model year, and along with all-new styling inside and out, they use the same new platform found on other Toyota vehicles around the world. The cars offer V6 and hybrid four-cylinder engines, and standard advanced safety and driver assistance systems.

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But there are key differences consumers should consider. Read below and see how the cars fare in a face-off against each other. At the end, we’ll crown a winner.

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Lexus ES

The Case for It
The ES is among the staff favorites to take on a long trip. While both sedans have stellar ride comfort, the ES stands out because of its supremely quiet cabin. The Avalon is quiet, but the ES does a better job of muting wind, road, and tire noise.

We chose to buy the ES 350 for our test program, which uses a 302-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s the same engine that’s available in the Avalon, and in both cars this combination makes an excellent team. The car accelerates smartly, and there’s plenty of power for passing, no matter the speed.

The transmission shifts quickly and smoothly at both city and highway speeds. Plus, we got 25 mpg overall, which puts it among the top-performing luxury midsized sedans.

Lexus boosted the quality of the ES’ interior with this generation, and it is more impressive than the Avalon’s. There is wood and chrome trim throughout, and plenty of padded surfaces where elbows, forearms, and hands will rest. Most of the interior has a luxe look and feel, and it’s appropriate for a car that costs about $4,000 more than the Avalon.

We like that Lexus uses knobs for radio volume and tuning functions, and hard buttons for the main climate controls. Lexus also made Android Auto compatibility standard for 2020; Apple CarPlay was already supported.

The front seats are firm and supportive, with plenty of adjustments, including four-way lumbar and the ability to extend the length of the bottom cushion to improve leg support.  

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