2024 Lexus TX First Drive Review: The Grandest Highlander

Comparisons between the new 2024 Lexus TX to the Toyota Grand Highlander are inevitable. Without question, the TX is the most Toyota-y-looking Lexus there is, as it barely hides its Grand Highlander underpinnings. In fact, some say the T in TX actually stands for Toyota. [Ed. note: No, it doesn’t. -CT] But is the TX good enough to overcome its obviously badge-engineered nature? And, more importantly, perhaps, will customers even care?

For a starting price of $56,400, the TX comes with three rows of seating—six or seven seats, depending on your second-row choice—and enough luxury to be worthy of its badge. It has the size, the space, and the premium interior to satisfy luxury buyers, as well as their families. So far, so good.

There’s always a “but” though and the TX’s is its powertrain. Despite its snazzier interior and upgraded accommodations, the TX still uses mostly the same powertrains as the Grand Highlander and, in the case of the entry-level TX, the regular Highlander. The only way to get a unique Lexus powertrain is to step all the way up to the top-spec TX 550h+ but Lexus hasn’t revealed pricing for that model just yet. Customers who drive the TX will have to weigh its mostly sub-premium powertrains with its luxurious cabin and ride quality to see which is most important to them.

2024 Lexus TX SpecsTX 350TX 350 AWDTX 500hTX 550h+
Base Price$56,400$58,000$70,700TBA
Powertrain2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder | 8-speed automatic | front-wheel drive2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid | 6-speed automatic | all-wheel drive3.5-liter V6 plug-in hybrid | continuously variable automatic transmission
Horsepower275275366404
Torque317 lb-ft317 lb-ft406 lb-ftTBA
Seating Capacity6 or 76 or 766
Curb Weight4,420 pounds4,575 pounds4,970 pounds5,400 pounds
Towing Capacity5,000 pounds<<<<<<
Cargo Volume20.2 cubic feet behind third row | 57.4 cubic feet behind second row | 97 cubic feet behind first row<<<<<<
Ground Clearance7.91 inches7.87 inches7.99 inches7.72 inches
0-60 mph8.0 seconds7.8 seconds6.1 seconds5.9 seconds
Top Speed112 mph<<<<<<
EPA Fuel Economy21 mpg city | 27 highway | 23 combined20 mpg city | 26 highway | 23 combined27 mpg city | 28 highway | 27 combinedTBA
Quick TakeIf you can get over the Highlander powertrains, the Lexus TX is an objectively good family car, with loads of space, a comfortable ride, and a quiet cabin.<<<<<<
Score8/10<<<<<<

The Basics

Lexus has never made a TX before, so this is its first attempt at a non-truck-based full-size SUV. All of its previous three-row SUVs, such as the new LX 600, were built on Toyota Land Cruiser platforms, so they traded some interior space and practicality for rugged off-road capability. However, the TX is a family car, plain and simple. It’s built on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform, which underpins the Grand Highlander, and you can tell from the very first glance.

2024 Lexus TX 550h. Nico DeMattia

For the most part, the TX is a pretty typical-looking family bus, with all of the proportions of something that’s designed to fit up to seven passengers. It’s completely unoffensive looking, if a bit boring. However, the elephant in the TX’s design room is its grille. Lexus has long been criticized for its “spindle grille” that looks like the Predator’s exposed mandibles. But the TX switches things up by integrating the grille into the bodywork so it’s one big body-colored piece, which makes it a bit off-putting at first. I’ll admit that it looks better in person and darker colors certainly help to lessen the visual shock. But I reckon it’s going to be a polarizing look for a lot of customers. The rest of the TX is pretty typical Lexus, though, with its swooshy headlights and rear LED light bar.

Don’t expect any drastic changes to Lexus’ interior formula inside the TX, though. Its steering wheel, gauge cluster, shift lever, and infotainment screen are all exactly the same as what you’d find in any other Lexus SUV, for better or worse. That familiarity might not be exciting but it’s a quality interior that feels as bombproof as you’d expect from anything with a slanty “L” badge on its hood. Second-row captain’s chairs are standard (a bench seat is optional) and so is the third-row, but if you get one of the hybrid models, you’re stuck with captain’s chairs. That’s no problem, though, as all captain’s chairs come standard with both heating and ventilation, even on the base model.

There are three different powertrain options available in the TX. It all starts with the TX 350, which comes with the same turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine from the Highlander putting out 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. It hooks up to an eight-speed automatic transmission and sends power to the front wheels as standard, but all-wheel drive is available for an extra $1,600. There are also two hybrid models: the TX 500h F Sport and the TX 550h+. In the former, you’ll find the same 2.4-liter engine but it gets help from two electric motors, one that helps send power to the front wheels through a six-speed auto and a second that powers the rear axle, making it all-wheel drive. Combined, it makes 366 hp and 406 lb-ft and it’s the same hybrid setup you’ll find in the Grand Highlander Hybrid Max. Oddly, the TX 500h only comes in F Sport guise and gets things like adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering. No other TX gets the same F Sport treatment.

However, if you want a more special powertrain, you’ll have to wait for the TX 550h+, which comes with a 3.5-liter V6 plug-in hybrid powertrain. Naturally, it’s the most powerful TX of the bunch, with 404 total system hp, and it’s also the only one with a pure electric range of 33 miles.

Driving the Lexus TX

Typical Lexus customers are going to mostly love the way the TX drives. It has that solid sure-footedness you expect from a Lexus, along with the same isolation from the outside world. Its suspension is well-damped, even on the standard non-adjustable dampers, and it never feels floaty. Sure, it’s entirely numb and it tries its best to make sure no noise or vibration annoys its passengers, but its chassis and suspension are good enough that it always feels confident, even when you’re pushing it hard.

While you won’t see many TXs getting flogged around suburbia, I had to try it out in the name of good journalism, of course. Its steering is accurate, appropriately weighted for an SUV of its size, and has decent on-center feel. So despite being in a three-row luxury bus, I actually got into a pretty good groove on some of Austin’s twistier roads. The TX 500h F Sport is the most fun to drive due to its rear-wheel steering, but just barely so. Don’t get the F Sport model because you think it will suddenly become a sportier SUV because it won’t. I asked Lexus if there will eventually be a 550h+ F Sport, with the same dampers and rear-wheel steer, and was met with the typical PR “We can’t comment on future models.”

Will customers notice the Toyota-based engines? Probably not, to be honest. The little four-pot is fine all on its own in the base TX 350 and never really felt underpowered during my time with it, regardless of driven wheels. Is it less refined than the V6s you might expect from Lexus? Yes, without question. Is it so bad that customers will care? Almost certainly not. The hybrid models are smoother, with the V6 TX 550h+ actually having some serious punch, and they’re far more efficient. Unfortunately, unless it’s priced well, I don’t see many customers opting for the V6 plug-in because the four-cylinder hybrid already packs plenty of power and efficiency.

The Highs and Lows

Without question, the Lexus TX’s strengths are its comfort and practicality. The second-row captain’s seats offer plenty of space, the third row is comfortable enough for an average-sized adult (e.g. me) to sit for long-ish journeys, and the third row even power reclines, which is nice. There are modular removable cupholders throughout the cabin, so you can take them out and put them in different places if need be. If you get the second-row captain’s chairs, the center storage console easily unclips and can be removed for easier access to the third row. And the cabin tech is as good as you’ll find in any other Lexus. It also has active noise canceling in the cabin, which uses the speakers to pipe in an opposing frequency to cancel out noise, similar to your wireless Bose headphones or a Rolls-Royce.

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. The TX is pretty dreary to look at, not because it’s ugly but because it is boring. The cabin, while comfy and practical, also isn’t anything special to look at, especially when compared to cars like the Acura MDX and Volvo XC90, two similarly sized SUVs in its price range. And, for the money, it comes with pretty underwhelming powertrains.

Lexus TX Features, Options, and Competition

The base model Lexus TX probably makes the best case for itself, as it comes with some decent standard kit. It has three rows from the jump, its first and second rows are heated and ventilated, it has synthetic but very convincing leather, three-row climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and a massive touchscreen infotainment system. Stepping up to higher trim levels does get you nicer things, but what more do you need than that? Stepping up is only really worth it if you want the hybrid engine.

2024 Lexus TX 350. Nico DeMattia

Where the TX starts to lose its luster a bit is when you compare it to its competition. The aforementioned Acura MDX is probably its main competitor, which starts at $51,045 and trades a bit of the TX’s practicality for more style, a bigger engine, a more unique interior, and a sportier drive. It isn’t the better family SUV, but it has more character. There’s also the Volvo XC90, which starts at $57,195, is more interesting inside and out. All three cars are good family haulers but the Acura and Volvo are simply more charismatic for the same money.

If I were to spec a Lexus TX, I’d go for the TX 350 AWD. It’s the best bang for your buck of the lineup, is almost as efficient as the hybrid, and comes with a ton of useful standard equipment. I wouldn’t even add any options, as it has everything I’d already want included.

2024 Lexus TX 350. Nico DeMattia

Fuel Economy

According to the EPA, the FWD Lexus TX 350 gets 27 mpg on the highway, 21 mpg in the city, and 23 mpg combined while the hybrid TX 500h gets 28 mpg highway, 27 city, and 27 combined. So, if you’re doing long-distance commuting, it probably doesn’t pay to get the hybrid, as the normal four-pot is already pretty efficient on the highway. But if you’re a city-dweller or suburbanite, the hybrid’s added stop-and-go efficiency is going to make a big difference. Its efficiency also beats the V6-powered Acura MDX while the four-cylinder TX 350 beats the four-cylinder Volvo XC90.

EPA

Value and Verdict

At $56,400 to start, the Lexus TX might not seem like great value at first, especially since it packs a Toyota four-cylinder. But the more you drive it, the more you realize that it’s really good at being what it’s meant to be. $56,000 can seem like a lot of money for a rebadged Toyota, especially since it doesn’t offer that much more than its competitors do. However, you’re not buying the TX because it’s a better value than its rivals, you buy a TX because it’s just a really good family luxury car. Is it worth the premium over the $44,405-to-start Toyota version? I’d say so.

The 2024 Lexus TX is exactly what I thought it would be—a grander Grand Highlander. It looks like one, it feels like one, and it’s priced like one too. Is that a bad thing? No, I don’t think so, actually. It does its job of being a practical family bus every bit as well as its Toyota sibling, just with more added luxury and comfort. Some customers will find it boring, but I can see typical Lexus customers really appreciating its familiar look and feel, along with its enormous cabin space. I personally would go for something a bit more interesting in the segment, but I can see Lexus customers absolutely loving the TX.

2024 Lexus TX 550h. Nico DeMattia

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