Sock Puppet on behalf of a friend searching for his first full on seakayak, I'd be much obliged if you'd compare the Essence to the Avocet.
Currently in the mix are a very lightly used fglass Avocet, private party sale, a used Essence on consignment, good condition, and a minty Essence last one on the floor (never wet) at a local paddle shop. All are affordable and yes the Avocet will be the highest priced as it is composite, but the price for condition and extras on the Avocet (skirt, compass, cockpit cover, upgraded backband) is very appealing. Neither Essence comes w. any extras.
My friend is an excellent outdoorsman (skier, cyclist, ice skater, climber) and has paddled canoes and rec boats for a number of years. He's a lean 175 lbs, 6'0. He wants a longer boat for better performance, better speed (he has the engine) mainly for daytouring with the option to carry gear for 3-4 nights. He packs like a backpacker so having a big tripper is not a necessity.
I'm also encouraging him to consider a gorgeous used CD Caribou but that is my bias as I have a Suka '-)