Sedans & Coupes

3 Reasons the 2021 Toyota Avalon Limited Is a Better Buy Than the Lexus ES

If you’re in the market for a full-size sedan, then the 2021 Toyota Avalon is a strong choice. It’s comfortable, reliable, and economical, and when you compare it side-by-side with its Lexus cousin, the ES 350, it’s tough to even distinguish the two when it comes to their respective features sets.

But what if you were to choose between the Toyota Avalon and the Lexus ES? Would the less-expensive Toyota really be a better buy over the more prestigious Lexus? Here are three reasons why it could be.

You get a lot of the same features

For starters, both cars are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, although the Toyota Avalon is rated 301 hp as opposed to the Lexus ES 350s 302 hp. Of course, that one extra pony doesn’t really equate to much of a difference in real-world driving, and if saving fuel is more your jam, then you’ll be glad to know that both cars even share the same 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engines on their lower trim levels, as well as the same 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain.

As far as technology goes, both cars come standard with all of the usual driver-assist aids like adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and emergency braking, and the audio systems are similar as well. The Toyota Avalon comes with a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment display that’s compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto and is matched to an optional JBL premium sounds system.

2021 Toyota Avalon Limited
2021 Toyota Avalon Limited | Joe Santos

On the other hand, the Lexus ES 350 comes standard with an 8-inch display, which can be upgraded to a 12.3-inch display connected to a Mark Levinson premium sound system. But, in all honesty, we much preferred the easier-to-use touchscreen on the Avalon over the ES and the JBL sound system sounded a lot better.

2021 Lexus EX 350
2021 Lexus ES 350 | Lexus

The ride quality between the two is similar

In terms of ride quality, you can expect that both cars ride like you’re sitting on a cloud with four wheels attached to it. The Toyota Avalon is really quiet at all speeds and we could easily drive across the country with no complaints when it comes to road or wind noise. As you can imagine, the same goes for the Lexus ES 350 as its serene cabin can make the fussiest baby comfortable. But for our money, the Avalon presents a great value proposition when it comes to overall comfort.

2021 Toyota Avalon Limited Interior
2021 Toyota Avalon Limited Interior | Joe Santos

And, of course, the pricing

Speaking of value, the main competition between these two cars is the respective pricing structures. The base model Avalon XLE carries a starting price of $35,875 while the entry-level Lexus ES 250 starts at $39,900. However, one important thing to note is that the base Avalon comes with the more-powerful V6 under the hood, while the ES 250 is powered by the four-cylinder engine.

a redesigned Toyota Avalon at speed on the road
Toyota Avalon | Toyota

As you move up the multitude of trim level options on both cars, you’ll notice that the Avalon Limited Hybrid tops out at $43,300 and the top-trim ES 300h Ultra Luxury is priced at $50,800, which can increase depending on the options that you select with it. And that’s where it all ends, with a pretty large price differential between the two cars when you check off all the boxes, it’s safe to say that the Toyota Avalon gives you the same experience, and possibly even more so, for less money.