Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2015 BMW 3 Series VS 2015 Lexus ES Near Phoenix, AZ

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2015 BMW 3 Series

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2015 Lexus ES

Safety Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The ES Series doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The ES Series 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.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the BMW 3 Series Sedan is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

3 Series Sedan

ES Series



5 Stars

5 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

115 lbs.

132 lbs.

Neck Compression

44 lbs.

147 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

174/298 lbs.

520/514 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the BMW 3 Series Sedan is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

3 Series Sedan

ES Series

Front Seat


5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

232 G’s

245 G’s

Hip Force

184 lbs.

510 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

38 G’s

44 G’s

Hip Force

513 lbs.

879 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the ES Series’ (12 vs. 6 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Lexus doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the ES Series.

There are over 77 percent more BMW dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The ES Series’ battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has more powerful engines than the ES Series:



320i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

180 HP

200 lbs.-ft.

328i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

240 HP

255 lbs.-ft.

335i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

300 HP

300 lbs.-ft.

ActiveHybrid 3 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid

335 HP

330 lbs.-ft.

ES 300h 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid

200 HP

199 lbs.-ft.

ES 350 3.5 DOHC V6

268 HP

248 lbs.-ft.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 81 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 199) than the ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 32 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 248) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the 320i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the ES 300h 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid (automatics tested):

3 Series Sedan

ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

6.6 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.7 MPH

90.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the 320i RWD Auto 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (180 HP) gets better fuel mileage than the ES 350 (24 city/36 hwy vs. 21 city/31 hwy).

Regardless of its engine, regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. Lexus only offers a regenerative brake system on the ES Series Hybrid.

Regardless of its engine, the 3 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the ES Series Hybrid.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the ES Series:



ES Series

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the ES Series are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the ES Series:

3 Series Sedan

ES Series

60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the 3 Series Sedan has larger standard tires than the ES Series (225/50R17 vs. 215/55R17).

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the ES Series’ standard 55 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/40R19 front and 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the ES Series’ optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The ES Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The ES Series doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The ES Series’ suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (49.9% to 50.1%) than the ES Series’ (59% to 41%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 335i xDrive executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.9 seconds quicker than the ES 350 (25.6 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

The BMW 3 Series Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 250 pounds less than the Lexus ES Series.

The 3 Series Sedan is 10.2 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has 2.8 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front legroom, .2 inches more rear headroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 3 Series Sedan’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The ES Series doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an available heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The ES Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the 3 Series Sedan and the ES Series have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 3 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The ES Series prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The ES Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The ES Series doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The ES Series doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 3 Series Sedan offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The ES Series doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The 3 Series Sedan’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The ES Series’ power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the ES Series offer optional heated front seats. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the ES Series.

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i)’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The ES Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sedan is less expensive to operate than the ES Series because it costs $783 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 3 Series Sedan than the ES Series, including $235 less for a water pump, $71 less for fuel injection, $20 less for a fuel pump, $134 less for front struts, $441 less for a timing belt/chain and $1196 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations Comparison

The BMW 3 Series Sedan has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

3 Series Sedan

ES Series

Consumer Reports® Recommends



Car Book “Best Bet”



The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 20 years. The ES Series has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 13 of the last 18 years. The ES hasn’t been picked since 1991.

The 3 Series was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2006 Car of the Year. The ES has never been chosen.

The BMW 3 and 4 Series outsold the Lexus ES Series by 85% during the 2014 model year.

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