2021 Lexus ES vs 2022 Volkswagen Jetta

2021 Lexus ES
2021 Lexus ES
$40,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2022 Volkswagen Jetta
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
$20,365MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 Lexus ES
$40,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
$20,365MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Lexus ES is 7.3 out of 10, while the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta scores 6.7 out of 10. Based on these ratings, the 2021 Lexus ES is the better choice, offering a more luxurious interior, better performance, and advanced safety features.

Overview

MSRP

$40,000

MSRP

$20,365

Average price

$32,873

Average price

$20,287

Listings

735

Listings

251
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

7.3 out of 10

Expert reviews

6.7 out of 10
Pros
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Great ride quality
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Potentially polarizing design
  • Unintuitive technology
  • Fairly pedestrian performance
Pros
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Comfortable
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Fairly pedestrian performance
  • Unintuitive technology
  • All-wheel drive not available

2021 Lexus ES Reviews Summary

When you think of a Lexus ES, you think of a cushy, comfortable, and reliable car that your parents or grandparents might like. The roomy and quiet cabin, the relaxed driving demeanor, and the relatively affordable price all hearken back to the original Lexus mission. And these stereotypes about the car are accurate. But in F Sport trim, with the 3.5-liter V6 engine, the 2021 Lexus ES 350 shows a different side of its presumed personality.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Reviews Summary

Volkswagen’s career sales leader, the Jetta receives a mild but value-minded refresh for the 2022 model year. Although the compact sedan’s lineup has been pared down (farewell, SEL Premium and R-Line), the Jetta’s standard features, technology, and power rating get a welcomed boost.
No video found
No video found
Popular Features & Specs

Engine

3.5L 302 hp V6

Engine

1.5L 158 hp I4

Drive Train

FWD

Drive Train

FWD

Seating Capacity

5

Seating Capacity

5

Horsepower

302 hp @ 6600 rpm

Horsepower

MPG City

22

MPG City

29

MPG Highway

32

MPG Highway

43
2021 Lexus ES
2021 Lexus ES
$40,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
$20,365MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Lexus ES
$40,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
$20,365MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Lexus ES is 7.3 out of 10, while the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta scores 6.7 out of 10. Based on these ratings, the 2021 Lexus ES is the better choice, offering a more luxurious interior, better performance, and advanced safety features.

Overview
MSRP
$40,000
$20,365
Average price
$32,873
$20,287
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
4.8
5.0
Expert reviews

7.3 out of 10

Read full review

6.7 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Great ride quality
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Potentially polarizing design
  • Unintuitive technology
  • Fairly pedestrian performance
Pros
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Comfortable
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Fairly pedestrian performance
  • Unintuitive technology
  • All-wheel drive not available
Summary
When you think of a Lexus ES, you think of a cushy, comfortable, and reliable car that your parents or grandparents might like. The roomy and quiet cabin, the relaxed driving demeanor, and the relatively affordable price all hearken back to the original Lexus mission. And these stereotypes about the car are accurate. But in F Sport trim, with the 3.5-liter V6 engine, the 2021 Lexus ES 350 shows a different side of its presumed personality.
Volkswagen’s career sales leader, the Jetta receives a mild but value-minded refresh for the 2022 model year. Although the compact sedan’s lineup has been pared down (farewell, SEL Premium and R-Line), the Jetta’s standard features, technology, and power rating get a welcomed boost.
Video
No video found
No video found
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
3.5L 302 hp V6
1.5L 158 hp I4
Drive Train
FWD
FWD
Seating Capacity
5
5
Horsepower
302 hp @ 6600 rpm
MPG City
22
29
MPG Highway
32
43
Look and feel
2021 Lexus ES
8/10
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
6/10
The 2021 Lexus ES lineup expanded to include the new ES 250 series, featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive (AWD), priced similarly to the ES 350 with a 3.5-liter V6 and front-wheel drive (FWD). Available in Standard, F Sport, Luxury, and Ultra Luxury trims, the ES 250 and ES 350 offered a range of options. Additionally, the ES 300h hybrid variant provided significant fuel economy improvements for a $1,910 premium. Lexus also introduced blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard on all trims except the base model. The limited-production Black Line Special Edition of the ES 350 debuted, featuring unique styling elements and a matching set of Zero Halliburton luggage. The ES 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition test car came loaded with features like triple-beam LED headlights, adaptive variable suspension, and a Navigation Package, bringing the MSRP to $54,070. The F Sport trim added 19-inch wheels, unique styling details, and a sporty interior. The Black Line Special Edition offered exclusive black and white interior and exterior elements. The ES’s dramatic grille required some acclimation, but the overall design was sleek and appealing. The black and white interior of the test car provided a striking contrast, emphasizing the high-quality materials and design that distinguished it from its Toyota Avalon platform mate. The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta, despite overall sales declines due to various global issues, remained Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle. In 2021, the Jetta accounted for over 61 percent of VW’s U.S. car sales, and this number increased to 70 percent in the first quarter of 2022. For 2022, the Jetta received a mild makeover, including an engine update, exterior styling tweaks, improved infotainment, more features, and a new Sport trim. The SEL Premium trim was dropped, simplifying the lineup to four trims: S, Sport, SE, and SEL. The exterior updates were subtle, with changes to the front fascia, bumper, and grille, which now featured more chrome. The rear bumper was redesigned to be less squatty and more square, with full-length chrome features. New wheel designs and metallic colors were added to the paint palette. The Jetta’s interior received updates like a new rhombus pattern on the standard cloth seats and contrast stitching on all upholstery types. The 8-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster became standard across the lineup, with the SEL trim receiving the 10-inch Digital Cockpit Pro and an 8-inch touchscreen-navigation system.
Performance
2021 Lexus ES
8/10
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
6/10
The 2021 Lexus ES 350 featured a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. Drivers could choose between Normal, Eco, and Sport driving modes, with Sport+ and Custom modes available with the adaptive damping suspension. The ES 350 accelerated to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, with an EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg combined. During testing, the ES 350 F Sport averaged 22.9 mpg. The ES 350 F Sport felt quicker than its claimed acceleration time, with a firm ride, flat cornering stance, and overall athleticism. The car’s performance was impressive for a model known for comfort rather than sportiness. However, it was not an outright sports sedan, as that role was reserved for the IS 350 F Sport and the upcoming IS 500 F Sport Performance. The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta was powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, replacing the previous 1.4-liter turbo-four. The new engine produced 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, with transmission options including a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. The Jetta’s fuel economy was impressive, with the manual transmission rated at 29 mpg city, 43 mpg highway, and 34 mpg combined. Automatic transmission models had slightly different ratings depending on the trim. During an 800-mile road trip, the Jetta averaged 46.9 highway mpg, requiring only two fill-ups for the roughly 1,000-mile journey. The Jetta’s powertrain, however, had some drawbacks, including a touchy throttle, turbo lag, and surge. The drive modes—Eco, Normal, Sport, and Custom—offered varying levels of responsiveness, with Sport mode providing the most engaging experience. The Jetta’s dynamics were tepid, with accurate but detached steering feedback and a jumpy feel in stop-and-go traffic.
Form and function
2021 Lexus ES
8/10
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
7/10
The 2021 Lexus ES featured a daring interior layout that was both unusual and useful, with sport-bolstered front seats offering 10-way power adjustment, heating, and ventilation. The NuLuxe synthetic leather provided excellent thigh support and comfort. Rear-seat passengers enjoyed good foot and legroom, with supportive cushions and a comfortable seating position. The ES also offered rear air conditioning vents and an available power rear window sunshade. Outward visibility was excellent, and storage was plentiful, though oddly configured. The trunk measured 13.9 cubic feet, with an optional hands-free power trunk. The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta, despite its compact size, provided ample passenger space for four adults, with the ability to accommodate five. The seats were comfortable, though the front seats’ bottom cushion had a slight incline that might not suit shorter individuals. The cabin was driver-centric, with buttons for climate control, audio, and seat controls conveniently located. Storage space was usable, with door pockets, a center console bin, and a slot next to the cupholders. The center storage bin lacked a latch, which was unusual but not problematic.
Technology
2021 Lexus ES
4/10
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
7/10
The 2021 Lexus ES had a problematic touchpad interface that required drivers to look at the screen while navigating the cursor, making it easy to overshoot targets. However, the climate and primary stereo controls were separate and easily accessible. The ES featured dynamic voice command technology, a 12.3-inch widescreen display, and a range of connected services. The standard 8-inch display included Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, SiriusXM satellite radio, HD Radio, and connected services. The ES also offered a 10-speaker premium sound system, with an optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson system. The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta received a technology upgrade, with all models equipped with the Digital Cockpit digital instrument cluster. The Jetta SEL featured the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro, with customizable views and widgets. The standard infotainment system included a 6.5-inch touchscreen with capacitive-touch sensors, App-Connect, Bluetooth, and USB-C ports. The Jetta SEL had the 8-inch MIB3 system with navigation, wireless App-Connect, wireless device charging, and enhanced voice recognition. The SEL also offered premium Beats Audio sound and a remote start system. However, the voice activation and navigation commands were not intuitive, requiring specific prompts.
Safety
2021 Lexus ES
7/10
2022 Volkswagen Jetta
8/10
The 2021 Lexus ES came standard with Lexus Safety System 2.0, which included forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, lane-centering assistance, adaptive cruise control, road-sign recognition, and automatic high-beam headlights. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert were standard on all trims except the base model. The ES received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS and a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA. The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta featured IQ.Drive, Volkswagen’s driver-assistance tech package. The Jetta S and Sport included blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. The Driver Assistance package added adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, Travel Assist, and Emergency Assist. The full IQ.Drive safety list was standard on Jetta SE and SEL trims. The 2022 Jetta had not yet received crash safety ratings, but the 2021 model received a five-star rating from the NHTSA and mostly “Good” grades from the IIHS.
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