2019 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The ES Series offers an optional Panoramic View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Sonata Hybrid only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

Both the ES Series and the Sonata Hybrid 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Hyundai vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Hyundai is ranked 10th.

Engine

The ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 22 more horsepower (215 vs. 193) than the Sonata Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 109 more horsepower (302 vs. 193) than the Sonata Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the ES 300h gets better fuel mileage than the Sonata Hybrid SE (43 city/45 hwy vs. 40 city/46 hwy). The ES 300h gets better fuel mileage than the Sonata Hybrid Limited (43 city/45 hwy vs. 39 city/44 hwy).

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Lexus ES Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Sonata Hybrid.

The ES 300h has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Sonata Hybrid doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the ES Series has larger standard tires than the Sonata Hybrid (215/55R17 vs. 205/65R16). The ES Series’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sonata Hybrid (235/45R18 vs. 215/55R17).

The ES Series’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sonata Hybrid’s standard 65 series tires. The ES Series’ optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Sonata Hybrid’s optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the ES Series has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Sonata Hybrid. The ES Series’ optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the Sonata Hybrid.

Suspension and Handling

The ES Series offers an available 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 Sonata Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the ES Series’ wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than on the Sonata Hybrid (113 inches vs. 110.4 inches).

Chassis

The ES Series F Sport uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Sonata Hybrid doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Cargo Capacity

The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the Sonata Hybrid (16.7 vs. 13.4 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Hyundai. J.D. Power ranks Lexus third in service department satisfaction. With a 57% lower rating, Hyundai is ranked 22nd.

Ergonomics

The ES Series’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Sonata Hybrid’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Sonata Hybrid Limited’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

The ES Series’ optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Sonata Hybrid’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the ES Series to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Sonata Hybrid doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus ES Series and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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