2019 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Tesla Model S

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Lexus ES Series are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Tesla Model S doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The ES Series offers an optional Panoramic View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Model S 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.

The ES Series has standard Safety Connect®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Model S doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the ES Series and the Model S have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the ES Series its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 36 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Model S has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The ES Series’ corrosion warranty is 2 years and unlimited miles longer than the Model S’ (6/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

There are almost 4 times as many Lexus dealers as there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the ES Series’ warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the ES Series’ reliability 34 points higher than the Model S.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Tesla vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Tesla is ranked 27th.

Fuel Economy and Range

The ES 300h’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel is 594 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Model S’ range is only 259 to 335 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 30 minutes for only a 54% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 82 hours and 53 minutes.

Chassis

The Lexus ES Series may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1100 to 1250 pounds less than the Tesla Model S.

Passenger Space

The ES Series has 5.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Model S (99.9 vs. 94).

The ES Series has 2.5 inches more rear headroom and 3.8 inches more rear legroom than the Model S.

Cargo Capacity

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

Ergonomics

The ES Series’ optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Model S doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The ES Series’ standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Model S doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.

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

Optional air-conditioned seats in the ES Series keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Model S doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Lexus ES Series, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Tesla Model S isn't recommended.

The Lexus ES Series outsold the Tesla Model S by over two to one during 2018.

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

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