2024 Lexus TX: Trying to Succeed Where the RX L Failed

Strong points
  • Comfortable and versatile cabin
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Easy to drive with superb ergonomics
  • Great fuel economy (TX 500h)
Weak points
  • TX 500h has six seats only
  • TX 350 offers modest fuel savings over a V6
  • Uninspiring handling
Full report

Lexus was one of the first companies to enter the luxury SUV game with the RX 300 in 1998. Of course, a lot of things have changed since, with customers always looking for bigger and more versatile models, but there’s no denying how lucrative these machines can be.

Building on the immense success of the RX, Lexus attempted to please families searching for a three-row alternative with the introduction of the RX L in 2018, which was about 11 cm longer. Alas, the plan failed. The more popular Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 were unthreatened.

For 2024, Lexus is taking another shot at the segment with a standalone SUV family that won’t cannibalize sales of the five-passenger RX. Meet the all-new TX, a fancy cousin of the Toyota Grand Highlander that’s trying to play the same role on the mainstream side.

TX as in Texas

Lexus invited The Car Guide to Austin, Texas for a media presentation and test drive of the TX, which will arrive in dealerships sometime in the next few weeks. Styling is nothing to write about, except maybe for the blacked-out D-pillars that make it look like the roof is floating above the cabin. The front grille has a more understated appearance than in years past, while the GA-K platform underneath is shared with the NX and RX.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

From the Audi Q7 to the Cadillac XT6 to the Genesis GV80, there’s plenty of selection when it comes to three-row luxury SUVs. Lexus needed to cover all the bases to hopefully attract a large number of people. There may not be a high-performance model to compete with the likes of, say, a BMW X5 M, but with a choice of three powertrain options and five trim levels, the TX should appeal to families with luxury transportation needs.

The top-line TX 550h+ is a plug-in hybrid (the first-ever American-made Lexus PHEV) built around the 3.5-litre V6 and an 18.1kWh battery shared with the NX 450h+ and RX 450h+, enabling 53 km of zero-emission range. We’ll see it in showrooms later in 2024. The TX 550h (regular hybrid) and entry-level TX 350 will arrive first. By the way, all Canadian-bound units will come standard with all-wheel drive.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Hybrid Hero

We started the day behind the wheel of a fully loaded TX 500h F SPORT Performance 3. The level of luxury is remarkable, as is fit and finish. And attention to detail is only matched by Lexus’ flawless build quality. That being said, the colour combinations could use some spicing up, and customization options are limited. F SPORT Performance 2 and F SPORT Performance 3 models feature black, dark brown or cream-coloured leather in a six-seat configuration only. With second-row captain’s chairs instead of a conventional three-passenger bench seat, some hybrid customers will have to compromise.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Blessed with a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors, not to mention a six-speed transmission, the TX 500h generates a combined 366 horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of torque—matching the performance of an Acura MDX Type S while burning 30 percent less fuel. Granted, Acura has a clear edge in the handling department, whereas this Lexus doesn’t seem to know what sport means.

Still, the adaptive suspension deserves kudos, while the AWD system is more advanced than the one in the base TX 350, enabling greater torque distribution between the front and rear axles—anywhere from 100/0 to 20/80 versus 75/25 to 50/50. Left-right torque vectoring is not possible, mind you. The TX 500h delivers strong acceleration—0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds according to Lexus, which is impressive for a vehicle that weighs 2,245 kg. Same thing for fuel consumption. How does 8.6 L/100 km sound?

Most customers will inevitably settle for the more affordable TX 350, which offers seating for seven. This model uses a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine shared with the RX 350, producing 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft. of torque. That’s with premium gasoline, which Lexus requires. However, the same mill in the Grand Highlander is good for 265 horsepower with regular gas, so you don’t have to pay extra at the pump if you don’t mind sacrificing 10 horsepower. In fact, Lexus engineers told us that using regular fuel will not affect the engine’s longevity.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

While not as flexible as a V6, the turbo-four is just as potent as Acura and Infiniti engines. It also boasts superior low-end torque and benefits from an excellent eight-speed transmission. Average fuel consumption for the TX 350 is rated at 10.3 L/100 km. By comparison, the MDX achieves a combined 11.2 L/100 km, while the QX60 slots between the two at 10.7 L/100 km. If every drop of gas matters to you, the new Lexus is clearly the one to get, especially considering the more abundant torque.

Quiet, Please!

Whichever model you select, you’ll be treated to an exceptionally smooth and quiet ride. Road noise is minimal, and wind noise is probably just the same. We say “probably” because we heard some undesirable noises in one of the pre-production units we tested in Texas, something that will likely be fixed between now and the start of series production.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Overall, the TX proves easygoing and driver-friendly. It may not be as sharp or dynamic as a Q7 or MDX, but ergonomics are beyond reproach and the new Lexus Interface is a real blessing. The driver-oriented 14-inch touchscreen is meticulously designed and pleasant to use. For those who prefer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, both come with wireless integration.

Comfortable seats, superb visibility, easy access to the third row and a host of charging ports for mobile devices will keep everyone happy. Oh, and the TX has more cargo room than all competitors, with up to 572 litres behind the rear seats. We just need to warn you that the power-folding seats are impossibly slow. Ditto for the power rear liftgate, which can be frustrating on rainy days.  

Photo: Antoine Joubert

As for content, the new TX is very generous no matter the trim level. It comes standard with a panoramic sunroof and heated rear seats, while Executive and F SPORT Performance 3 models pack 22-inch wheels and a powerful 21-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

A Win for Lexus

How many luxury SUV buyers are sick and tired of paying ridiculous maintenance and repair bills? Or losing big money due to high depreciation? Or experiencing reliability issues even though their dealer’s after-sales service is top-notch?

With that in mind, Lexus is nicely positioned to grab a large share of the market with the TX, luring customers away from the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90 while taking advantage of slumping sales at Acura and Infiniti. Company executives admit they’re keeping a close eye on Genesis, which could prove a serious threat sooner or later. Even more so with a hypothetical GV90.

Pricing in the U.S. starts at $55,000 and ranges up to $76,000. Canadian pricing ranges from $68,750 to $90,200.

LISTEN: LP and Gab test drive the 2024 Lexus TX on The Car Guide Podcast

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