Is It Really Worth Upgrading to the Lexus ES from the Toyota Avalon?

It’s nearly impossible to go wrong with a Toyota or its luxury counterpart, Lexus. But sometimes the challenge is deciding which brand to choose, especially when certain models share many similarities. The 2020 Toyota Avalon and the 2020 Lexus ES are perfect examples of this. Is it worth upgrading from the Avalon to the ES?

What’s it like to drive these two sedans?

A bright blue Lexus ES 350 in drive mode.
Lexus ES 350 | Lexus

Both the ES and the Avalon have earned excellent safety and reliability ratings and the similarities continue regarding how these two sedans perform. Critics hail the ES and Avalon as comfortable cruisers that offer an engaging driving experience. The two are based on the same platform and come standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain is a winning combination. 

A red 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD out in the  country.
2020 Toyota Avalon TRD | Toyota

One of the slight differences is that the ES produces 302-hp, and the Avalon has 301-hp. Besides that, similarities continue for the most part. The ES and Avalon have above-average fuel economy ratings for their respective classes, and both sedans are available as hybrids. The hybridized versions are worth looking into if fuel economy is among your top priorities. However, keep in mind that the hybrid power sources are known to get loud at higher speeds.

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How are the Avalon and the ES different on the inside?

The ES offers a spacious and sophisticated car cabin.
Lexus ES Interior | Lexus

Both the Avalon and the ES feature gorgeous, well-padded car cabins. But unsurprisingly, the ES has a grander appearance on the inside, given that it’s a luxury model. The ES is nearly perfect in every way on the inside and has flashier trimmings than the Avalon. That’s not to say that the Avalon is plain﹣far from it. The Avalon is understated and stylish. And like the ES, the Avalon comes standard with faux leather upholstery.

Aside from interior design, the ES and Avalon different considerably when it comes to in-car electronics. The ES comes with plenty of infotainment features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a wifi hotspot. It also comes with a 10-speaker stereo and Siri Eyes Free, but unfortunately, the ES’ 8-inch display isn’t a touch screen.

2020 Toyota Avalon TRD interior
2020 Toyota Avalon TRD interior | Toyota

On the Avalon, standard infotainment features include a 9-inch touchscreen, Amazon Alexa, and an eight-speaker. Apple CarPlay also comes standard on the Avalon, but Android Auto isn’t available at all. While the ES comes with more features in this department, the Avalon’s setup is more user friendly. The ES’ system operates like a computer, so it might take buyers some getting used to.

As far as advanced safety goes, the ES is the winner here. The ES is standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite, which includes a long list of functions daytime bicyclist detection and lane tracing assist. Still, the Avalon offers desirable safety features too, just not as many as the ES.

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Deciding between the two

You really can’t go wrong with the ES or the Avalon. Both are stylish, comfortable, and enjoyable to drive. The major difference between the two is on the inside. If practicality is your primary concern, go with the Avalon, which starts at $35,875. For about $4,000 more, the ES is worth it if you want to make a luxurious statement.