To most customers, reviews of the 2024 Lexus TX will be entirely irrelevant. Legions of Lexus loyalists have been pining for a dedicated three-row Lexus crossover for absolute eons, and now that one’s available, orders will come pouring in like gravy over Thanksgiving turkey. Lexus predicts this three-row hauler sized for Catholic family planning will quickly become its third-best-selling product, so success won’t be an issue. However, the Lexus TX isn’t alone in the three-row luxury crossover segment. To well-heeled older millennials not already on a first-name basis with their local Lexus dealer, the posh family hauler segment is chock-full of obvious and obscure alternatives all vying for four-figure monthly payments. So, is the TX the cream of the crop, or is it just a Toyota Grand Highlander with a copy of the latest Neiman Marcus catalog? We flew to Austin to find out.
[Full Disclosure: Lexus flew me to Austin to sample the new TX, evidently running with the model name. As is usual on press launches, hotel accommodations and food were provided by the automaker. Lexus also inadvertently proved that I suck at 1:00 a.m. ping pong, although my partner was well-matched to my abilities. -TH]
How Does It Look?
Well, it looks like a Lexus, doesn’t it? Although the Japanese brand has flirted with minimizing its polarizing spindle grille before, the Lexus TX takes a strange approach of making a huge part of it body color, resulting in a properly unusual face. Add in an enormous number of lines that converge and diverge, and the front end of this family hauler is a special kind of shocking on first glance.
However, body-color cladding and a well-styled profile perk things up considerably, even if squared-off arches never quite sit right over round wheels. Swipe the nose off of the Lexus TX and it’s mostly handsome, if anonymous. Still, it’s not like most of its competitors are rolling Colani sculptures, and with any three-row crossover, it’s what’s inside that counts.
What’s The Interior Like?
It’s amazing what a few years can do. While Acura’s been fucking about with a trackpad, Lexus has suddenly gained one of the best infotainment systems in the entry-level luxury market. The marque is banishing the trackpad one model at a time, and its latest touchscreen infotainment system is properly slick, if not without a few foibles. Changing the drive mode in the TX requires a little menu hunting, native navigation is a subscription-based service, and a few additional hard buttons would be nice. However, quibbles aside, the new screen setup is fast, fluid, and endowed with rich graphics. Needless to say, this 14-inch interface with cleverly-integrated climate knobs dominates the dashboard.
Once you get over the visual impact of the enormous infotainment screen, the 2024 Lexus TX poses an important question: What can pleather do for you? Alright, so maybe that’s a bit harsh, but Lexus has used the age-old trick of big faux-leather swathes to class up the TX’s interior. Does it work? Well, not massively. Sure, the textiles on the door cards are surprisingly soft, but they’re plain enough that the Corolla-grade plastic atop each door card stands out at this price tag. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still soft-touch, but normal cars have become so nice that ye olde luxury touches just don’t hit like they used to.
However, unlike in most crossovers, things improve the further back you sit in the TX. Not only is the second row wonderfully appointed with optional heated and ventilated captain’s chairs, the third row can be specced in semi-aniline leather, order with power-recline, and even sports a litany of USB-C ports and surprisingly supple armrests. Between the space and the luxuries, the third row in the TX is one of the best on the market, hands-down.
So, does the 2024 Lexus TX has a spacious, orthodox, pragmatic interior that’s devoid of whimsy? Not quite. In a brief moment of delightful strangeness, Lexus made the cupholders removable. You can slot them into the front console, optional second-row console, or the third-row armrests for extra beverage-carrying capacity, and remove them entirely for cleaning. Lexus claims a price of $150 for a pair of modular cupholders, which should prove a novel recurring revenue stream since children have a habit of losing things that aren’t bolted down. Still, what an unusual beverage-gripping solution.
How Does It Drive?
Because I’m a whore for horsepower, I started the driving day in the TX 500h F Sport Performance, essentially a sportier Toyota Grand Highlander HybridMAX with an equally breathtaking name. With 366 horsepower, 409 lb.-ft. of torque, three electric motors, one turbocharger, and a six-speed automatic gearbox, this hot hybrid powertrain moves the TX with linear authority, like achieving takeoff in a 737. Oh, and this isn’t just a TX with a bunch of power, because Lexus threw in adaptive dampers, huge six-piston fixed front calipers, and four-wheel-steering. So, is it enough to make the BMW X5 tremble? Not quite.
What’s the difference between a McDouble and a burger from a much-vaunted local joint? After all, they both have beef, bread, some green things, and sauce. Well, much of it is in the seasoning and preparation, and Lexus needs to spend a little more time in the kitchen working on the TX500h F Sport Performance. Those fancy adaptive variable dampers have different presets for normal and sport modes, neither of which are great. In the standard drive mode, the TX 500h F Sport Performance eerily floats along the highway, driving even bigger than it actually is. In sport mode, the highway ride is perfect, but pockmarked surface streets have the crossover fidgeting like a squirrel on Red Bull. It’s a similar deal with the brakes — the big stoppers do an impressive job of shedding speed, but you won’t find a firm, confidence-inspiring pedal here. There’s a genuinely pleasing sporty-luxe crossover in here somewhere, but it needs expert attention to be revealed.
From sporty to sensible, I quickly swapped into the base TX 350 and actually liked it more. The fixed dampers are properly set up for a solid high-speed ride and reasonable comfort around town, but despite the lack of a massive glass roof, the quietness situation didn’t quite feel luxury-grade thanks to noticeable tire noise. Oh, and without the magic trick of four-wheel-steering, the base TX had somewhat vague steering for a modern unibody vehicle, frequently requiring slight input adjustment in constant-radius corners. Sure, expecting more than 200 inches of crossover to handle well is like expecting the latest video game film to be good, but luxurious, effortless confidence should be included in a luxury car price.
Then I took the mid-range TX 350 Premium out for a spin and everything came together. Unlike every other TX, these popular models come on Goodyear tires instead of Continentals. While this sounds like a downgrade, they’re actually better to drive on in every conceivable way than the Contis. The steering is noticeably more accurate, requiring no fine adjustments in sweeping bends. Tire noise over most asphalt simply vanishes, and the ride quality sees a slight improvement. Will the Goodyears maintain these characteristics throughout their lifespans? It’s hard to say, but I wouldn’t buy a Lexus TX without them. How weird is that?
As for the standard powertrain in the 2024 Lexus TX 350, it’s perfectly adequate. While a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine doesn’t sound impressive for an application this big, 317 lb.-ft. of peak torque coming in at a low 1,600 rpm moves this hauler off the line with minimal fuss. In addition, the eight-speed automatic transmission has such exquisite manners you’d think it had been trained by the International Butler Academy. Sure, you could get a more powerful model, but why?
How about if you want to commute on electric power alone? Yes, the Lexus TX 550h+ is coming as an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid with a twist — instead of the pedestrian four-cylinder engines found in most competitors, this thing sports a silky-smooth naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6. With the same 18.1 kWh battery pack as the RX450h+, don’t expect the TX 550h+ to win any range competitions, but it definitely doesn’t feel meek once the battery runs low. The slug of hybridized torque combined with the mellifluous notes of a quad-cam V6 at attention is a fascinating combination, although the eCVT prevents power delivery from sounding anything near conventional.
How’s The Price?
The 2024 Lexus TX starts at $55,050 including a $1,350 freight charge, but a few desirable features are missing for that sort of money. For one, the base TX doesn’t get a moonroof at all, let alone a panoramic one. It’s the same deal with memory seats, and big features like a branded audio system just aren’t available on the base model. If you want genuine leather and additional toys, the Luxury trim starts at $60,950 for the front-wheel-drive model and $62,550 for the all-wheel-drive model, and the most option-laden TX 350 AWD Luxury model will retail for $70,175. Want hybrid power? The TX 500h F Sport Performance starts at $69,350, while the TX 500h F Sport Performance Premium stickers for $72,650. As for the plug-in hybrid model, it’s a late-availability variant, so we won’t know pricing until a future date.
Oh, and that’s just America. Canadian pricing is a bit nuttier than that. Sure, all-wheel-drive and the panoramic moonroof come standard, but we’re still talking about a vehicle that starts at $70,955 Canadian including a $2,205 freight charge, stickers for $82,455 in loaded gas-only trim, and can be specced up to $92,405 in TX 500h F Sport Performance 3 trim. Now that’s some serious cash.
If I had to pick a spec of Lexus TX, I’d go for the TX 350 AWD Premium with boxes ticked for the heated steering wheel-including $250 cold area package, the 360-degree camera system-containing $1,050 technology package, the $895 convenience package of digital fluff necessary for the awesome parking cameras, and the $1,160 Mark Levinson branded 21-speaker audio system. Total price? $63,405 in America.
So, what else could you buy for Lexus TX money? Well, you could buy a Cadillac XT6, but you shouldn’t. The Lincoln Aviator is nice, but I wouldn’t trust it for the long haul quite like the Lexus. TX 500h F Sport Performance money will get you into an Acura MDX Type S, a seriously rapid turbocharged V6 three-row crossover with excellent color choices but an absolutely infuriating infotainment system. In case you’re more interested in a gorgeous interior, pricier trims of Infiniti QX60 feel substantially more expensive inside than the TX, but that wow factor comes with an unfortunate price premium. Against the entry-level luxury subset, the Lexus TX is an absolute winner, but remember what I wrote earlier about normal cars becoming fantastic?
Take the Mazda CX-90, for example. A none-too-shabby $61,325 buys you a Mazda CX-90 Turbo S Premium Plus that’s loaded to the hilt with a turbocharged inline-six, Nappa leather, and a feature set that can very nearly go shot-for-shot with an exceptionally-equipped Lexus. If you’re looking to get in on the ground floor, a CX-90 3.3 Turbo Preferred costs $44,820 and gives you more for your money than a base TX, such as standard all-wheel-drive and a moonroof. As another wildcard, the nicest Kia Telluride you can buy stickers for $55,340 including premium colorway options and freight, and it’s certainly a desirable vehicle.
However, Lexus has something that Kia, Mazda, and every other mass-market brand attempting to level up simply can’t match — incredible customer service. If something goes wrong with a Kia, your local dealer principal won’t deliver you a quality control worker’s ring finger in a velvet-lined box, and they probably won’t let you take an equivalent loaner car on a proper road trip. Lexus dealers stand on a reputation made of impeccable customer service, which begs the question: How much money would you spend to be treated like a human being?
What’s The Verdict?
The 2024 Lexus TX isn’t the poshest or best-driving three-row luxury crossover on the market, but it doesn’t need to be. Hell, Lexus could’ve completely phoned it in and still made something that would sell by the truckload. However, with distinctive styling and loads more kit than its more common Toyota Grand Highlander cousin, the Lexus TX is genuinely competitive against other entry-level three-row luxury crossovers. Don’t be surprised if you see these things everywhere soon.
(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)
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