2020 Lexus ES Series vs. 2019 Volvo S90

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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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 S90 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the ES Series and the S90 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver 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, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

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 S90 was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

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Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the ES Series 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Volvo covers the S90. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the S90 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 58 points higher than the S90.

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 Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 28th, 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 Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 98 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 29th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Volvo is ranked 29th.

Engine

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As tested in Consumer Reports the ES 350 is faster than the S90 T6:

ES Series

S90

Zero to 60 MPH

6.9 sec

7.2 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.2 sec

4.7 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

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To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Lexus ES Series uses regular unleaded gasoline. The S90 T5 requires premium, 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 Volvo S90 (3 to 7). This means the ES Series produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the S90 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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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 S90 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The ES Series stops shorter than the S90:

ES Series

S90

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

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The front and rear suspension of the ES Series uses coil springs for better ride, handling and control than the S90, which uses transverse leafs springs in the rear. Coil springs compress more progressively and offer more suspension travel for a smoother ride with less bottoming out.

For better maneuverability, the ES Series’ turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the S90 18” wheels’ (38 feet vs. 38.7 feet). The ES Series w/18-19” wheels’ turning circle is 1.2 feet tighter than the S90 19” wheels’ (38.8 feet vs. 40 feet).

Chassis

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The Lexus ES Series may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 900 pounds less than the Volvo S90.

The ES Series is 4.2 inches shorter than the S90, making the ES Series easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Lexus ES Series amounts to more than styling. The ES Series offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .26 to .29 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is lower than the S90 (.28 to .33) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the ES Series get better fuel mileage.

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 S90 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Cargo Capacity

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The ES Series has a much larger trunk than the S90 (16.7 vs. 13.5 cubic feet).

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. Volvo doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the S90.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Volvo. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 41% lower rating, Volvo is ranked 14th.

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 S90 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 S90’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the ES Series has standard extendable sun visors. The S90 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 S90 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 $1430 less than the S90 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 S90 only retains 34.71% to 35.74%.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Lexus ES Series will be $15725 to $31589 less than for the Volvo S90.

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 2019/10/23

Consumer Reports® recommends the Lexus ES Series, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Volvo S90 isn't recommended.

The Lexus ES Series outsold the Volvo 90 Series by over five to one during 2018.

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

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