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Toyota Avalon, Lexus ES 350
#1 of 268 Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison
Jun 24, 2006 (1:08 pm)
I thought it might be interesting for owners & prospective buyers of the Toyota Avalon Limited and Lexus ES 350 to compare these two models. I recently comparison-shopped those 2 cars and wound up trading in my 97 ES 300 for an Avalon Limited. My reasons are set out below. Perhaps others would like to offer their own views and make the case for either car!
Before buying an Avalon Limited, I looked at and ruled out both the 2006 ES 330 and the 2007 ES 350 for different reasons. The 06 330 has a much smaller, less fuel efficient 6 cyl. engine than the Av, while the 07 350 has essentially the same engine as the Av. Both Lexus models (330 & 350) are smaller than the Av, inside and out. The Av compares in size to the LS 430, the Lexus flagship. And in fact, some car magazine reviews have described the Av Ltd. as a "poor man's LS 430", and a car that offers 85% of what the LS 430 offers. (If you can overlook the absence, on the Av, of the Lexus badge and the V8 engine of the LS 430, you can argue that the Av seriously rivals the $60,000 LS 430 for a whopping 45% less, approximately, in MSRP). As for the comparison of the Av Ltd. to the ES 350, you'd have to order the ES 350 with a $2500 "Premium Plus" package (boosting its total MSRP over $36,300) to get that car with heated/ventilated leather seats, driver's seat cushion extender, and rain-sensing wipers, all of which are standard on the Av. Ltd. Even then, your ES 350 still wouldn't have the power rear sunshade, wood-trim steering wheel, HID headlights, and a 12 speaker premium sound system that are all standard equip. on the Av Ltd. At Lexus, those items are either additional cost options or are only available as part of a much more expensive option package on the ES 350. In fairness to the ES 350, it does come standard with electronic stability control (optional on the Av); a power tilt/telescope steering column (these are manually adjustable on the Av); and knee airbags for driver and front seat passenger (only a driver knee airbag on the Av.) You will likely find that Toyota dealers will be willing to offer you a MUCH more substantial discount on the Av Ltd. than you will get on the ES 350. In May 2006, I was offered 11% off list on a 2006 Av Ltd. and 19% off list on a brand new 2005 Av Ltd. Try asking for discounts like that at a Lexus dealer! (In fact, my local Lexus dealer offered me, as a return customer, only 5% off a 2006 ES 330, a model which they needed to unload quickly to make room for the new ES 350 models arriving - (so much for "customer loyalty & appreciation" discounts - that discount was almost insulting!) With discounts over 10% at Toyota, one could add on the electronic stability control and laser cruise control options (together they add about $1250 to the list) and still come out thousands below a comparably equipped ES 350. That's my take on the value proposition represented by the Avalon Limited - and, more importantly, I love the car, too! Given all these facts, what makes the ES 350 seem like a preferred choice/better buy in the view of its owners & admirers?
#2 of 268 Re: Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison [gohawaiian]
Jun 24, 2006 (1:25 pm)
I have both cars, so I can compare pretty closely from experience.
The 350 is made completely in Japan so (IMO) is better put together and has more quality control.
The 350 has a longer warranty, even though one probably won't use it that much.
The Avalon's handling in comparison to the 350 is pretty sloppy...I feel sometimes like I'm going to be seasick.
The 350 has a backup camera if you have Nav; lots of complaints about the Avalon not having one.
The 350 does not have the transmission shifting problems everyone has complained about on the Avalon, at least not yet on mine.
The 350 has Bluetooth - the 05 Avalon does not. Not sure about the 06 model.
The 350 has IPOD connectivity - the Avalon does not.
Yes, the Avalon is less expensive so if it fits your checkbook, I would say buy it. If you can afford the Lexus and it fills the bill and you can afford it, buy that one.
I'm sure there are a few other points that I'm missing, but at first blush, that's my 2 cents worth. I like both cars, the Avalon IS a good buy, I just prefer the 350.
#3 of 268 Re: Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison [gohawaiian]
Jun 24, 2006 (6:17 pm)
For me, the ES350 comes out on top mainly
because the Avalon is a little too large for
my tastes. I don't remember the length of
the Avalon, but if it's over 191 inches, I'm
going to have difficulty fitting it in my
garage. Also, I've decided when my lease is
up on my Maxima, I'd really like to upgrade
to one of the premium manufacturers such as
Lexus, Acura or Infiniti (Unless Nissan
manages to suck me back in with the 2007
Maxima and very well could, although this
car supposedly is gaining several inches in
length, also, and could be a problem for me)
because of the longer warranty offered by
It's kind of funny because when Lexus came out
with the 2007 IS, I loved it, but felt it was
too small. Until now, I would have never
considered a car such as the ES series before
the 2007's came out. It's a whole different
story now. The size of the ES350 is just
about perfect. At this point the ES and the
Acura TL are the top two on my wish list, and
being that I enjoy sporty cars, you'd think
the Acura would be my choice hands down
(also, size-wise the Acura is perfect!)
But the 2007 ES is just so compelling for me
right now, so I guess it's going to come down
to who's going to give me the best deal.
Ooh, I can't wait!!!
#4 of 268 Just drove both
Jun 25, 2006 (12:53 pm)
As a long term Toyota driver with a '97 Avalon XLS w/ 148K miles, I drove both the Av Ltd. and the ES350 as possible replacements. Both were impressive with obvious similarities. But the ES is actually about the size of my '97, while the Avalon has become cavernous. Great for a family, but I am retiring and this is my personal car. The Avalon did seem more open and brighter, but when I floored it in the Avalon the engine roar was clearly audible, while the ES was barely so. The body roll was better controlled in the ES. Value is clearly better with the Avalon.
There isn't much difference in major options. It's just a different feeling between the two. For me, the ES was the one. The more intimate size, the little niceties like the electronic tilting wheel on the memory, the greater isolation and sense of quiet, all added up to my new car. I ordered the ES w/ premium plus + nav last week.
#5 of 268 Re: Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison [maximafan]
Jun 25, 2006 (4:40 pm)
Contrary to popular belief, the 2006 Avalon XLS is priced substantially higher than the new Lexus ES350 (at least in Canada). The base price of the 2007 ES350 here is $42,900 compared to the base XLS of $40,150 but the ES has standard features such as VSC, brake assist, seat ventilation + memory, extended warranty etc. To equip an Avalon with the same features requires the purchase of Package B that brings the Avalon's Listing up to $43,725. And, factor in the extra cost of bringing the Avalon's warranty up to the Lexus standard. So what do you get for this extra cost? Maybe a larger ES350?
#6 of 268 Re: Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison [gohawaiian]
Jun 25, 2006 (4:49 pm)
I have to agree with youe logic. I have 06 Limited Av. with Bluetooth, BU camera, all the bells. I looked at IS and GS models and was turned off by the lack of discounting, size, same parts on much of the car. Service is also much less (I get loaners and bring my own synthetic oil $26 for oil changes. Now my colleagues are looking at the Av as well. Money doesn't grow on trees.
#7 of 268 Re: Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison [neil5]
Jun 27, 2006 (6:26 am)
Just curious. I don't remember the backup camera being offered on the Av Ltd. Is this an aftermarket unit you have installed post delivery? How about the bluetooth?
I was recently able to negotiate about the same discounts on the ES as on the Av Ltd. Of course in FL, Toyota dealers have to work around the onerous SET fees. So, the difference was around $3500, about 8% more for the ES. I paid it willingly, for the ES is the one that felt right for me...and I find it too frustrating finding aftermarket installers to provide what I wanted in the first place. To each his own path. They are both fine vehicles.
#8 of 268 Re: Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison [rocketdan]
Jun 27, 2006 (7:32 am)
I too looked at the Avalon Ltd before purchasing the ES350. The Avalon I looked at did not have the back up camera or bluetooth. Also I did not like the manual tilt for the steering wheel. My wife did not like the look and feel of the controls for the radio, nave, etc. The Avalon had a nice ride but for me it felt as if the Lexus was a more complete car. Purely subjective. Also, I was looking for something smaller after having driven a BMW 740iL for several years. Both cars are great values in my opinion. Really boils down to a matter of personal likes.
#9 of 268 Re: Toyota Avalon Limited vs. Lexus ES 350 Comparison [rocketdan]
Jun 27, 2006 (8:54 am)
Backup camera was added as aftermarket to display on my NAV screen. Cost about 400.00 plus 100.oo install. I used G-net system with License plate CCD camera. Outstanding at Night!!! To see pics go to Toyotanation.com Galleries Avalon 3 generation. Far better than what is offered by Toyota over 1000.00 add on by Southeastern toyota distributors
#10 of 268 The "value" factor
Jun 27, 2006 (3:55 pm)
What I find really interesting in the comments posted to date on this topic is that the concept of "value" seems not even to enter the equation for the Lexus buyers. Various considerations other than value (such as car size, availability of bluetooth, backup camera for Nav, etc) are being cited as the deciding factors for the Lexus buyers who have commented on their choice of car. There's nothing wrong with that, of course - it's your money and to each his own! - but at what point does a savvy buyer conclude: "You know what, this is no longer a reasonable price for what is, after all, still an entry-level luxury model." The fact that Lexus no longer includes leather seats as part of the car's standard equipment and now makes you select an option package if you want leather, speaks volumes (to me) about what is really going on here: Lexus has figured out that its buyers want the car, at just about any price, regardless of value, and until customers balk and say "enough is enough", I suspect that Lexus will be laughing all the way to the bank with your money. But hey, it's a beautiful car, and for that kind of money, Lexus owners certainly deserve to enjoy it!