2020 Ford Fusion vs. 2019 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Fusion Titanium 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 Fusion’s 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.

The Fusion’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The ES Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Fusion 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, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras and available rear parking sensors.

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

Fusion

ES Series

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Stress

234 lbs.

239 lbs.

Neck Compression

26 lbs.

30 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

232/354 lbs.

524/628 lbs.

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

Warranty

There are almost 13 times as many Ford dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Fusion’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Fusion first among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The ES Series isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Lexus vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lexus is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Fusion Titanium’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 8 lbs.-ft. more torque (275 vs. 267) than the ES 350’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Fusion Titanium 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the ES 300h 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid:

Fusion

ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91.6 MPH

90.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Fusion SE/SEL FWD 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the ES 350 (23 city/34 hwy vs. 22 city/33 hwy).

The Fusion FWD’s standard fuel tank has 3.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (16.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Fusion AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series’ standard fuel tank (18 vs. 15.9 gallons).

The Fusion has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The ES Series doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The Fusion stops much shorter than the ES Series:

Fusion

ES Series

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

140 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

139 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

The Fusion 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 Fusion’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The ES Series doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The Fusion Titanium executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the ES 300h (27.2 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Fusion’s turning circle is .5 feet tighter than the ES Series’ (37.5 feet vs. 38 feet). The Fusion’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the ES Series w/18-19” wheels’ (37.5 feet vs. 38.8 feet).

Chassis

The Fusion is 4.1 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the Fusion easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the Fusion 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 Fusion has 2.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ES Series (102.8 vs. 99.9).

The Fusion has 1.7 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more front legroom, 1.9 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear hip room and 2.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity

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

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Fusion to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on actual driving conditions. 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 Fusion SEL/Titanium has a standard 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.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Fusion SE/SEL/Titanium’s exterior PIN entry system. The ES Series doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

The Fusion’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.

Consumer Reports rated the Fusion’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the ES Series’ headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

The Fusion (except S) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The ES Series doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Fusion owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Fusion will cost $1260 less than the ES Series over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Fusion is less expensive to operate than the ES Series because it costs $182 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Fusion than the ES Series, including $226 less for a water pump, $286 less for a starter, $120 less for fuel injection, $217 less for a fuel pump, $345 less for front struts, $881 less for a timing belt/chain and $496 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Ford Fusion will be $1650 to $10318 less than for the Lexus ES Series.

Recommendations

The Ford Fusion outsold the Lexus ES Series by almost four to one during 2018.

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

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