2019 Audi A4 vs. 2019 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The ES Series doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System that uses a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The ES Series doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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.

To help make backing safer, the A4’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The ES Series doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the A4 and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front 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 around view monitors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A4 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The ES Series has not been tested, yet.

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 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 267) 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

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91 MPH

90.6 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

22 city/22 hwy

350/Auto

 

 

n/a

22 city/31 hwy

350 F Sport/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.

The A4 has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (15.3 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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

12 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11.1 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

 

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

140 feet

Motor Trend

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. 235/45R18).

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 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The A4 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The ES Series’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

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 Premium Plus Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 3.1 seconds quicker than the ES 300h (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

Chassis

The A4 is 9.8 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the A4 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The A4 has 1.4 inches more front headroom and .2 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity

The A4’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the A4 has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The ES Series doesn’t offer a power trunk.

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.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the A4 to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Lexus doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the ES Series.

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 A4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The ES Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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.

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.

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.

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

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