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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 Tesla Model S doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Lexus ES Series are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Tesla Model S doesn’t offer height-adjustable 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 Model S 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.
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 Model S 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 Model S 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.
To help make backing safer, the ES Series’ optional 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 Model S doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
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 Model S 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 Model S 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 Model S have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 blind spot warning systems.
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 vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its standard headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the ES Series its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Model S is not even a standard “Top Pick.”
The ES Series’ corrosion warranty is 2 years and unlimited miles longer than the Model S’ (6/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).
There are over 74 percent more Lexus dealers than there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the ES Series’ warranty.
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 43 points higher than the Model S.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Tesla vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Tesla is ranked 23rd.
The ES 300h’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel is 580.8 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Model S’ range is only 326 to 373 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 30 minutes for only a 54% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 82 hours and 53 minutes.
In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The ES Series has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model S doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.
The ES Series has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Model S; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.
For better maneuverability, the ES Series’ turning circle is .8 feet tighter than the Model S’ (38 feet vs. 38.8 feet).
The Lexus ES Series may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1250 pounds less than the Tesla Model S.
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 Model S doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The ES Series has 5.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Model S (99.9 vs. 94).
The ES Series has 2.5 inches more rear headroom and 3.8 inches more rear legroom than the Model S.
With its sedan body style, valet key and remote trunk release lockout, the ES Series offers cargo security. The Model S’ hatchback body style and non-lockable folding seat defeat cargo security.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the ES Series’ trunk can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Model S doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
A maintenance reminder system is standard on the ES Series to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, air filter replacement, tire rotation, radiator flush, brake pad replacement and transmission fluid replacement, vehicle inspection based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Tesla doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Model S.
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 Model S doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
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. (This window function must be activated by your Lexus service department.) The driver of the Model S can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The ES Series’ power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Model S’ cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
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 Model S’ headlights are rated “Poor.”
The ES Series’ standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Model S doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.
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 Model S doesn’t offer extendable visors.
A power rear sunshade is optional in the ES Series and manual rear side window sunshades are standard in the ES Series Ultra Luxury to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Model S doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.
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 Model S doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the ES Series is less expensive to operate than the Model S because typical repairs cost much less on the ES Series than the Model S, including $636 less for a water pump, $25 less for front brake pads and $1 less for a power steering pump.
Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus ES Series and the Tesla Model S, based on reliability, safety and performance.
The Lexus ES Series outsold the Tesla Model S by almost three to one during 2019.
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