2020 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Audi A3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The ES Series offers optional Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The ES Series offers an optional Panoramic View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The A3 Sedan 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’ 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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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 A3 Sedan 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 A3 Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Lexus ES Series is safer than the Audi A3 Sedan:

ES Series

A3 Sedan

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

120

217

Neck Injury Risk

24%

45%

Neck Stress

239 lbs.

427 lbs.

Neck Compression

30 lbs.

143 lbs.

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

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 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A3 Sedan is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

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Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the ES Series 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Audi covers the A3 Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the A3 Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Reliability

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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 25 points higher than the A3 Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 8th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Audi is ranked 7th.

Engine

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The ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 31 more horsepower (215 vs. 184) than the A3 Sedan 40 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 74 more horsepower (302 vs. 228) and 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 258) than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the ES 300h gets better fuel mileage than the A3 Sedan 40 TFSI (43 city/44 hwy vs. 26 city/35 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the ES Series Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Lexus ES Series uses regular unleaded gasoline. The A3 Sedan 45 TFSI requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The ES Series’ standard fuel tank has 1.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (15.9 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Lexus ES Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Sedan.

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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a CVT.

Suspension and Handling

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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 A3 Sedan’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the ES Series’ wheelbase is 9.2 inches longer than on the A3 Sedan (113 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the ES Series is 1.5 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A3 Sedan.

Chassis

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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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the ES Series a Mid-size car, while the A3 Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The ES Series has 13.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (99.9 vs. 86).

The ES Series has 1 inch more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front legroom, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 4.1 inches more rear legroom and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

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The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the A3 Sedan (16.7 vs. 12.3 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key and remote trunk release lockout, the ES Series offers cargo security. The A3 Sedan’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the ES Series’ power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Audi. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 24% lower rating, Audi is ranked 8th.

Ergonomics

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The ES Series 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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When three different drivers share the ES Series, the optional memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a memory system.

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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The ES Series 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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The ES Series’ headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the A3 Sedan’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the ES Series has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer cornering lights. The ES Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the ES Series to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the ES Series with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The A3 Sedan’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the ES Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the ES Series owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the ES Series with a number “1” insurance rate while the A3 Sedan is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The ES Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the ES Series will retain 48.23% to 49.19% of its original price after five years, while the A3 Sedan only retains 36.82% to 38.8%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the ES Series is less expensive to operate than the A3 Sedan because it costs $518 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the ES Series than the A3 Sedan, including $157 less for a water pump, $92 less for a muffler, $3 less for front brake pads, $27 less for a starter and $10 less for front struts.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/14

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

The Lexus ES Series outsold the Audi A3/S3 by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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