2020 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Audi A4

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 2019/10/16

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 A4 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

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 A4 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the ES Series and the A4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear 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, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors 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 A4:

ES Series

A4

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

120

164

Neck Injury Risk

24%

26%

Neck Compression

30 lbs.

55 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.8 inches

1 inches

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 A4 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 A4. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the A4 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Reliability

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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 27 more horsepower (215 vs. 188) than the A4 40 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 54 more horsepower (302 vs. 248) than the A4 45 TFSI’s standard 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 A4 40 TFSI (43 city/44 hwy vs. 27 city/34 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the ES Series Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A4 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 A4 requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Lexus ES Series higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Audi A4 (3 to 5). This means the ES Series produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the A4 every 15,000 miles.

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 A4.

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 A4 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The ES Series stops shorter than the A4:

ES Series

A4

60 to 0 MPH

132 feet

135 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

145 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the ES Series’ wheelbase is 3 inches longer than on the A4 (113 inches vs. 110 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the ES Series is .9 inches wider in the front and 1.9 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A4.

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 A4 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 A4 is rated a Compact.

The ES Series has 7.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A4 (99.9 vs. 92).

The ES Series has 1.1 inches more front legroom, .4 inches more rear headroom and 3.5 inches more rear legroom than the A4.

Cargo Capacity

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The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the A4 (16.7 vs. 13 cubic feet).

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 A4 doesn’t offer a remote starting 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 A4 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the ES Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (Your Lexus service department must activate this window function.) The driver of the A4 can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

Consumer Reports rated the ES Series’ headlight performance “Fair,” a higher rating than the A4’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

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 A4’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Marginal.”

The A4’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The ES Series’ optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the ES Series to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The A4 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 A4’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Lexus ES Series offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The A4 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the ES Series owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the ES Series will cost $240 less than the A4 over a five-year period.

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 A4 only retains 37.24% to 38.04%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the ES Series is less expensive to operate than the A4 because it costs $109 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the ES Series than the A4, including $316 less for a water pump, $161 less for a muffler, $35 less for front brake pads, $300 less for a starter, $126 less for a fuel pump and $363 less for front struts.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Lexus ES Series will be $3506 to $14106 less than for the Audi A4.

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 2019/10/16

The Lexus ES Series outsold the Audi A4/S4 by 40% during 2018.

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