2019 Audi A4 vs. 2018 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A4 has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The ES Series doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The A4 45 TFSI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The ES Series doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The ES Series only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the A4 and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi A4 is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

 

A4

ES Series

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

236

304

Neck Injury Risk

25%

33%

Neck Stress

119 lbs.

132 lbs.

Neck Compression

47 lbs.

147 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

324/341 lbs.

520/514 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A4 is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

 

A4

ES Series

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

219 G’s

245 G’s

Hip Force

308 lbs.

510 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

879 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The A4’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the ES Series’ (12 vs. 6 years).

There are over 26 percent more Audi dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the A4’s warranty.

Reliability

The Audi A4’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the ES Series’ engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Engine

The A4 40 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (236 vs. 199) than the ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 25 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 248) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the A4 40 TFSI is faster than the ES 300h:

 

A4

ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91 MPH

90.1 MPH

As tested in Motor Trend the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the ES 350:

 

A4

ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

5 sec

6 sec

Quarter Mile

13.7 sec

14.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.4 MPH

100.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A4 gets better fuel mileage than the ES 350:

 

 

A4

ES Series

 

2WD

40 TFSI/Auto

27 city/34 hwy

21 city/30 hwy

350/Auto

AWD

45 TFSI/Auto

23 city/34 hwy

n/a

 

Regardless of its engine, the A4’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the ES Series Hybrid.

Transmission

The A4 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The ES Series doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

The A4 Auto’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The ES Series doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A4’s brake rotors are larger than those on the ES Series:

 

A4

A4 Quattro

ES Series

Front Rotors

12.4 inches

13.3 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11 inches

The A4’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the ES Series are solid, not vented.

The A4 stops much shorter than the ES Series:

 

A4

ES Series

 

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

145 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A4 has larger standard tires than the ES Series (225/50R17 vs. 215/55R17). The A4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ES Series (245/40R18 vs. 225/45R18).

The A4’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the ES Series’ standard 55 series tires. The A4’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the ES Series’ optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A4 offers optional 19-inch wheels. The ES Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The A4 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The ES Series’ suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The A4 has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The ES Series doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The A4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56% to 44%) than the ES Series’ (59% to 41%). This gives the A4 more stable handling and braking.

The A4 Prestige Quattro handles at .90 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 3.2 seconds quicker than the ES 350 (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

The A4 is 7.2 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the A4 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The A4’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the A4’s available trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The ES Series doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the A4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the ES Series. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The A4 has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The ES Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the A4 and the ES Series have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the A4 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The ES Series prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The ES Series doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The ES Series doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the A4 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The ES Series doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The A4’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The ES Series’ power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

The A4 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the ES Series. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the ES Series.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A4 is less expensive to operate than the ES Series because typical repairs cost much less on the A4 than the ES Series, including $67 less for fuel injection, $780 less for a timing belt/chain and $820 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Both are recommended, but Consumer Reports® chose the Audi A4 as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A4 first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The ES Series isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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