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2024 Lexus TX

The family vehicle from Lexus we didn't know we needed.

Toyota introduced us to the Grand Highlander at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show as their latest three-row family crossover. Fast forward a year and Lexus has launched their own version of the Grand Highlander called the TX.  The two vehicles share the same platform with a similar look but do have some significant differences to set them apart. Both vehicles come standard with a  2.4L turbo gas engine mated to an 8-speed automatic, but things differ beyond that under the hood. It is available with either FWD or AWD depending on the grade and powertrain. The Lexus gets more horsepower with 275 hp and 317 lb.-ft. of torque thanks to premium fuel and other modifications. The standard TX 350 is available in three grades that include the base, Premium, and  Luxury.  Also available on the TX500h is a turbocharged 2.4L four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors for a combined 366 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. And finally, Lexus offers a TX550h+ which is a plug-in hybrid that features a 3.5L V6 gas engine mated with a lithium-ion battery pack and AWD to deliver  combined 404 horsepower and an estimated 33 miles of electric driving range. Hybrid models are available as either the TX 500h F Sport Performance Premium, the TX 500h F Sport Performance Luxury, or the TX 550h+ Luxury.

The 2024 Lexus TX starts at $55,050 (Grand Highlander at $43,070) for the gas engine models, $69,350 for the hybrid and $78,050 for the Plug in Hybrid. Competition includes other large luxury vehicles like the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Infiniti QX60, Genesis GV80, and Volvo XC90 . I spent a week in the TX 350 Luxury AWD model that checked in at $69,814 and put it to the test with a family road trip, here's what stood out...

Exterior Style
The TX has a clean, contemporary look that takes on a new front fascia look for Lexus. Lexus refers to it as a "unified spindle" that blends the grille into the fascia for a sleeker design that is more aerodynamic. The Lexus emblem sits on top of the fascia and slim signature LED headlights are standard.  From the side you'll notice large, flattened fenders with body cladding trim that outlines the bottom of the entire vehicle. The rear D-pillar is blacked out and gives it a floating roof look. It has a traditional greenhouse with a high beltline that swoops up to the back of the 3rd row window, big windows, and chunky door handles. Around back flared fenders accentuate its wide stance, and a slim LED light bar stretches across the hatch with LEXUS  spelled out across the center in a modern font.

20"  wheels are standard on the base, premium and luxury grades while 22" wheels are also available in a variety of finishes depending on the grade. My test model included the optional 22" silver multi-spoke alloys as a $2,140 option. The wheels were a nice mix of luxury and sportiness.  It comes with a limited color palette of five colors that include wind chill pearl, celestial silver, caviar, cloudburst gray, and nightfall mica. I found the Lexus touches to work better on this design than the Grand Highlander version. It looks sophisticated, but not pretentious.

Power / Performance
I spent time in the 2.4L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that churns out 275 horsepower with 317-pound feet of torque mated to a 8-speed automatic. It's good for a 0-60 MPH time of around 7.7 seconds, which is average for a large, heavy SUV such as this. The other variants of the TX deliver more power and performance. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds and offers more than enough power for merging on the highway, passing other vehicles, and zipping around town. We took an extended drive on the highway from Chicago to Indianapolis and this is the perfect highway cruiser for a family. It was smooth, quiet, and confident in its handling. It has a a MacPherson strut type front suspension that helps reduce the vibration of the road imperfections to deliver superb ride quality.

The all-speed radar cruise control with curve speed management paired well with the lane departure alert to keep the vehicle moving, centered, and spaced appropriately. It alleviated some stress of driving, especially in dense traffic situations.

All three powertrains come with four Drive Modes (Sport, Eco, Normal, and Custom) to make driving more engaging - while a separate Trail Mode is available on AWD models and provided integrated control of the AWD, braking and drive force to minimize slippage on wet or uneven surfaces.   Modes can easily be selected via buttons in the center console. In an area like the Midwest, these all come in handy for the varying types of roads and road conditions. The full-time electronic AWD delivers power to the front and rear wheels via a front-mounted hybrid motor and a rear-mounted, eAxle electric motor. Lexus' DIRECT4 AWD system constantly varies front-to-rear driving force distribution from 100:00 to 20:80 (depending on situation) to achieve maximum grip, traction, and acceleration. It requires no effort from the driver, adding to the peace of mind while driving.

Despite its size and 4,575-lb weight, the TX handles itself well around corners. There is minimal lean, feels composed, and well grounded. It doesn't feel quite as agile as competitors from BMW & Genesis, but it does deliver a more refined ride focused on comfort. Overall, it makes for an easy-to-drive family hauler that will satisfy around town and even more so for long road trips.

Fuel Economy
When it arrived with a full 17.8-gallon fuel tank, it offered a range of around 460 miles.  EPA estimates are 21/27/23 MPG city/highway/combined; and after a week of driving (including highway) I averaged around 21 MPG. The most efficient TX will be the 550h+ PHEV 3.5L V6 which is rated at 29/28/29 MPG city/highway/combined with 33 miles of all electric driving range. Overall numbers are good for the class beating many competitors. Premium fuel is recommended.

Interior
Coming from a household with three kids, interior space was at the top of our list when searching for a family SUV. Lexus (and Toyota) did their homework here and the TX is a worthy competitor when it comes to passenger space. Riding on a longer wheelbase and wider track give it room to work with and much more interior space than both the LX and GX. The interior feels open and spacious from front to back. An available panoramic glass roof adds to that open feel by letting in plenty of natural light.

Working in reverse and starting in the third row, it's suitable for passengers regularly and not a penalty box. Accessing the third row is easy thanks to sliding seats and a lowered floor that extends beyond the second row. There are seat belts for three in the third row making it either a seven or eight passenger vehicle if needed.  Also for third row passengers are two left/right individual USB ports, smartphone/tablet storage space, and two cup & bottle holders.  The power third row seats also fold flat or recline at the touch of button for versatile use.

Second row seats can be had as either captain's chairs or as a bench seat. There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the outboard seats and a tether anchor for the second-row middle seat in the bench version. If not used by a car seat, these seats are comfortable with plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room.  If a vehicle is equipped with captain's chairs in the second row, heating and ventilation come standard.  As expected, the front seats offer the most space for the driver and passenger with comfortable seating positions and the flexibility to adjust to various size adults.

NuLuxe synthetic leather seat trim is standard on Standard, Premium, and F SPORT Performance Premium grades. F SPORT Performance Luxury comes standard with smooth, leather-trimmed seating while the Luxury grade for TX 350 and TX 550h+ is covered with semi-aniline leather trim. A 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats are available. Ultrasuede accents throughout the cabin add to the comfort and  enhance the luxurious vibe.

From a functionality perspective it offers plenty of cupholders (13) including the ability to hold larger water bottles and offers various storage spaces ideal for long trips. Cupholders can be re-configured and pulled out of their main trays to accommodate the larger bottles. An available center console is featured in the second row when equipped with captain's chairs. This removable semi-console box can be used to store small items or a digital device such as a tablet. It can also accommodate cups or bottles by installing removable cupholders.

There are USB ports at every seat ( a total of 7) for device charging among other amenities that were used on our road trip and saved devices from running out of battery. Also included are up to three power outlets with a combined 1500 watts of power. These come in especially handy for families on the go.

Technology
Hopping inside, one of the first things you'll notice is a massive 14" touchscreen at the center of the dash. With its size and placement, it's like the fireplace focal point in a living room. It utilizes Lexus' latest multimedia system that is intuitive and easy to read. It integrates wirelessly with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, offers an intelligent assistant, cloud-based navigation, Wi-Fi connectability, and the ability to turn into an AT&T Hotspot (with subscription). For additional ease of use by driver and front passenger, a center knob located at the screen's bottom edge controls power on/off and volume.

Behind the steering wheel is a 7" digital gauge cluster that comes standard with the ability to personalize the display. On higher trims, a 12.3" multi-information display cluster is also available along with a head-up display on the windshield and a digital rearview mirror with HomeLink. Connected to a camera in the rear, the digital rearview mirror casts a clear, wide view of what is behind you. You can zoom in, zoom out, and adjust to give you a better perspective. At night it will brighten dark scenes and reduce glare from headlights.

For the audiophile, there is an available 21-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound tuned for the TX's cabin delivers high-quality audio. The system incorporates Mark Levinson Quantum Logic Surround sound technology to provide stage-like, full-bodied, balanced tones to all passengers regardless of seating position.

Another great tech feature is the panoramic view monitor in the center display.  It provides a full picture of your surroundings thanks to four different cameras around the vehicle. When parked and using the moving view setting, it will even create a virtual view from above to give you a better view of what's surrounding you. The cameras and guidelines make it much easier to park and navigate your vehicle's positioning.

Cargo Space
The TX has an impressive amount of cargo space among competitors. There is 20.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 57.4 cubic feet with the third row folded flat, and 97 cubic feet with both rows folded down. The third row has a 60/40 split to further offer versatility in space usage and the seats all fold completely flat. An available hands-free power liftgate also proves useful when your hands are full and the large tailgate opening makes it easy to load or unload.

Safety / Driver Assist
The 2024 TX comes standard with the latest Lexus Safety System +3.0. The LSS +3.0 system includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, risk avoidance emergency steer assist, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, emergency driving stop system, lane departure alert, road sign assist,  the new Proactive Driving Assist system. When system operating conditions are met, using the vehicle's camera and radar, this system provides gentle braking into curves or gentle braking and/or steering to help support driving tasks such as distance control between a preceding vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist. Proactive Driving Assist is not a substitute for the Pre-Collision System and operates in different circumstances.

While these assist features are all well-intentioned, the Lexus TX is very sensitive with many alerts and flashing warnings going off frequently. On more than one occasion the emergency braking system stopped the TX completely in an unnecessary (overly sensitive) situation such as backing out of the driveway and sensing a garbage can at the curb (we were plenty far from hitting it).  Various driver assist features can be turned off easily, although I was unable to adjust their sensitivity settings.

Other available features include traffic jam assist which eases the burden of stop-and-go driving by providing control of the TX's steering, braking, and acceleration at speeds under 25 MPH. Advanced Park is an intuitive driver's aid system that can help in various maneuvers, such as when perpendicular parking/exiting and parallel parking/exiting. Four Parallel View Monitor cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors provide visual data to support the automatic control of steering, accelerator, brake, and shift operations. It takes the guesswork out of parking and is more accurate than my teenage daughter learning to drive. Also available are blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and front & rear parking assist with automatic braking.

Final Statement
The Lexus TX adds to the Lexus SUV portfolio and fills a void that has been lacking. None of the Lexus current or past SUVs offer the amount of interior passenger space that the TX offers. It's a refined luxury SUV that elevates the comfort levels of a family road trip. With all the technology features you need, space for personal belongings, and a smooth ride it is ready to go on that next adventure in style.

Pros: Interior passenger space, cargo space, standard safety features, variety of powertrains
Cons: Overly sensitive driver assist features, average handling, high price

Test Vehicle: 2024 Lexus TX 350 Luxury AWD
* Powertrain: 2.4L turbocharged inline -4
* Exterior Color: Cloudburst Gray
* Interior: Peppercorn leather
* Notable Options: Captain's Chairs ($680), Convenience Package ($895), Premium Paint ($500), Mark Levinson Sound System ($1,160), Technology Package ($1,050), 22" Alloy Wheels ($2,140), Rear Hatch Cargo Lamps ($399), Cold Area Package ($100)
* Price as tested: $69,814 (with destination & delivery)