2020 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Subaru Legacy

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

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus ES Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Subaru Legacy doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The ES Series has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Legacy doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The ES Series offers an optional Panoramic View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Legacy only offers a rear monitor.

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 Legacy doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the ES Series and the Legacy have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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, 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 Subaru Legacy:

ES Series

Legacy

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

24%

27%

Neck Stress

239 lbs.

259 lbs.

Neck Compression

30 lbs.

42 lbs.

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

Warranty

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The ES Series comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Legacy’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the ES Series 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the Legacy. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Legacy ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The ES Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Legacy’s (6 vs. 5 years).

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, 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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

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

Engine

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The ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 40 more horsepower (215 vs. 175) than the Legacy 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder. The ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 46 more horsepower (302 vs. 256) and 20 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 247) than the Legacy 3.6R Limited’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the ES 300h is faster than the Legacy 2.5i:

ES Series

Legacy

Zero to 60 MPH

7.8 sec

9.2 sec

Quarter Mile

16 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.6 MPH

84.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 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

On the EPA test cycle the ES Series gets better fuel mileage than the Legacy:

MPG

ES Series

2.5 4-cyl. Hybrid

43 city/44 hwy

3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/32 hwy

F Sport 3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/31 hwy

Legacy

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

3.6 DOHC 6-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

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

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the ES Series Hybrid’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Legacy doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the ES Series’ standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the Legacy:

ES Series

Legacy

Front Rotors

12 inches

11.6 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the ES Series’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Legacy (235/45R18 vs. 225/55R17).

The ES Series’ optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Legacy Sport/Limited’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the ES Series offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Legacy’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

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 Legacy’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the ES Series’ wheelbase is 4.7 inches longer than on the Legacy (113 inches vs. 108.3 inches).

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 Legacy doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The ES Series has .2 inches more rear headroom and 1.1 inches more rear legroom than the Legacy.

Cargo Capacity

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The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the Legacy (16.7 vs. 15 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key and remote trunk release lockout, the ES Series offers cargo security. The Legacy’s non-lockable remote release defeats 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 Legacy doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

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A maintenance reminder system is standard on the ES Series to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Subaru doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Legacy.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 52% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Ergonomics

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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 Legacy 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 Legacy doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The ES Series’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Legacy’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Legacy Premium//Limited’s optional power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

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 Legacy can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The ES Series’ optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Legacy’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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

The ES Series’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

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 Legacy’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 Legacy 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 Legacy doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The ES Series has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

Both the ES Series and the Legacy offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the ES Series has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Legacy Base doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

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 Legacy doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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

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

The Lexus ES Series outsold the Subaru Legacy by 21% during 2018.

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

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