2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The ES Series doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers 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 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan and the ES Series 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, available blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the ES Series’ (12 vs. 6 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Lexus only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the ES Series.

There are over 43 percent more BMW dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The ES Series’ battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

The 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 40 more horsepower (255 vs. 215) than the ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl. hybrid. The 330i’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 28 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 267) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6. The M340i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cyl. produces 80 more horsepower (382 vs. 302) and 102 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 267) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 330i RWD gets better fuel mileage than the ES 350 (26 city/36 hwy vs. 22 city/33 hwy).

Regardless of its engine, regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. Lexus only offers a regenerative brake system on the ES Series Hybrid.

Regardless of its engine, the 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (15.6 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the ES Series:

330i

M340i

ES Series

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

11.1 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’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.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the 3 Series Sedan has larger standard tires than the ES Series (225/45R18 vs. 215/55R17).

The 330i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the ES Series’ standard 55 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the ES Series’ optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the ES Series. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the ES Series.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The ES Series doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the ES Series’ (59% to 41%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the 3 Series Sedan’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the ES Series’ (37.4 feet vs. 38 feet).

Chassis

The 3 Series Sedan is 10.2 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the BMW 3 Series Sedan amounts to more than styling. The 3 Series Sedan has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 Cd. That is lower than the ES Series (.26 to .29) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the 3 Series Sedan get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The ES Series doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sedan has 1.2 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity

The 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan offers an optional 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, so its trunk has to be closed manually.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes and vehicle inspection 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 3 Series Sedan offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The ES Series doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation 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 3 Series Sedan’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.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant Plus can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The ES Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Lexus ES Series isn’t available as a four door hatchback or station wagon.

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

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