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2024 Lexus TX550h+

TX offers PHEV version with V-6 power

In the 2024 model year, Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota, debuts an all-new three-row crossover with comfort and extended travel miles topping the priority list. The sizeable, roomy and versatile TX is one of half-a-dozen or so available crossovers/SUVs available within the 2024 Lexus lineup.

The TX represents the next size up from the popular RX, the uni-body car-based crossover credited with igniting the mid-size luxury crossover craze during its 1998 intro. Larger luxury liveries with established namesakes (looking at you Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator) continue with bulkier and bouncier body-on-frame platforms. While classified as mid-size, TX skews towards the larger end of the mid-size spectrum. It’s about 10 inches longer then its RX sibling promising  generous head and leg room throughout.

Lexus TX comes with three rows standard while offering three distinct power supply options including two electrified choices.  The inline, four-cylinder TX350 traditional gasoline version comes with three available trims (standard, premium, luxury) and a starting price of $55,050.  A separate review deep dives into this volume leading model.
 
Two electrified opportunities include the TX500h gas-electric self-charging hybrid and our tester this week, a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) TX550h+.  All recommend premium-octane grade fuel during fill ups and share nearly identical dimensions and measurements.

The TX550h+ features exclusive all-wheel drive sporting two on-board electric/traction motors, one monitoring the rear axle and another the front.  Lexus markets this as DIRECT4 AWD and builds upon the Lexus/Toyota GA-K platform found in the smaller RX and NX crossovers.

This PHEV version ranks as the only one of the three TX versions sporting a larger, naturally aspirated (non turbo), sweet-sounding V-6 with 24 valves generating 259 horsepower.  Most plug-in hybrids combine electric/traction motors (or motor) with smaller four-cylinder oomph and little-to-no audible excitement heard within the TX550h+.  The front traction/electric motor provides 179 horses while rear wheels motivate from a 101-horsepower motor for a combined 404 horses. It all mates to an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECTV).

An (ECVT) while similar sounding to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) offers a completely different build structure.   Instead of pulleys and belts utilized with conventional CVTs, the electronic version taps into the on-board electric wizardry to better interact with the ratio spectrum. The reliability rate of ECVTs far exceeds those of the older-school CVTs.

Expect a comparably respectable pure electric range of 33 miles from a fully charged battery pack after which the V-6 engine seamlessly kicks into action and takes over supporting a gas-hybrid mode.  Electric vehicles and PHEVs enjoy peak performance and recharge at a slightly faster pace in milder temperatures as subzero readings slow down the movement of electrons.   With the gas tank topped off and on DC battery pack fully charged, this vehicle boasts a generous combined range of 450 miles.  

Unlike pure Electric Vehicles, ‘range anxiety’ is kept in check as the V-6 provides more than 400 miles of driving once the battery pack gives way and fills up within minutes at any conventional gas station.
 
If desired, drivers may switch between pure-electric mode and the V-6 petrol engine via a button between front buckets. Electric motors provide the best bang for the buck during city driving, where stop-and-go traffic patterns are the norm taking advantage of regenerative braking, a process where kinetic energy created during braking gets captured and recycled back into the battery pack.
 
This lower-volume TX selection arrives in one available trim level, a ‘Luxury’ grade with a high content of standard equipment and three available factory option packages with a smattering of dealer-ready amenities.
 
Our TX550h+ tester started at $76,700 and added the three available option packages: Cold Area Package - windshield deicer and heated leather trimmed steering wheel ($100), Technology Package- heads-up display, digital rearview mirror, panoramic view monitor ($2,150) and Convenience Package- front cross traffic alert ($895).  The bottom line reached $83,133 including a $1,350 destination charge and a half-dozen dealer extras, representing all that Lexus could throw at this PHEV. Pricing closely reflects other mid-size PHEVs in the luxury mid-size segment.
 
The attractive, modestly styled exterior carries forward with the Lexus ‘Spindle Grille,’ up front, although this version may qualify as the least polarizing of the past decade. It’s hourglass-like outline is synched closer to the top than previous incarnations with a half-dozen or so horizontal slats below.  The synched region intersects with long, narrow frosted lighting streaks illuminating in an amber hue during left and right turns. This streak also serves as an upper brow for the larger LED headlight bulbs. In back, long thin red lighting stretches from end to end along the power lift hatch.
 
Also narrow in nature, front A pillars contrasting with the large windshield and long hood. Strap-like exterior handles include inside touch sensors to open adding a touch of elegance. This same electronic touch pad sensibility adorns inside doors, too. Twenty-two-inch multi-spoke wheels with a silver finish come standard, the largest available in the TX family.
 
The TX550h+ arrives with six-person seating standard.  Row two comes standard with two comfortable heated/ventilated, manually sliding Captain’s Chairs.  Smartly, row three designs with two riders in mind and power-operated 50/50 split backrest.  Too many three-row rivals insist a third humanoid can squirm into this already snuggle-like region.
 
Row three provides amble comfort for those two adults thanks to better-than expected adult-style head and leg room.  Maneuvering to the way back row starts with tilting the Captain’s Chair’s backrests forward, after which the seat bottom slides forward effortlessly with the use of just one arm.  A very usable 20.2 cubic feet of cargo area awaits behind the prone third row accepting luggage and groceries.
 
Gone from Lexus past, a small rectangular appendage jetting out from the steering wheel monitoring cruise control.  Now, that function takes place via push buttons on the steering wheel face. Also retired, the clunky ‘Remote Touch Interface’ requiring nerves of steel from the driver’s right hand as it maneuvered a square-type fumble stick or sometimes a flat touch-sensitive pad between bucket seats motivating an in-screen curser.
 
It’s been exchanged for a sizeable touch-sensitive flat screen renamed simply ‘Lexus Interface’ extending up prominently from the central dash. Now, the screen largely controls via touch, secondary steering wheel commands and voice commands for those so inclined.

Built into the screen along the bottom portion: two twist selecting dual front-zone temperatures.  Fan direction operates from an always present touch-sensitive icon above the left twist dial. A nearby touch-sensitive in screen slide bar increases/decreases fan speed.   A small on/off twist knob controls volume.  Flanking this knob, small rectangular push buttons for quickly summoning front/rear window defrosters.
 
Screen operation follows a user-friendly approach with a half-dozen vertical icons summoning maps, audio, settings and drive modes (sport, normal, eco).
 
Directly left of the 14-inch screen’s top corner resides a circular, electronic start/stop button powering electric motors up and down.  It’s a better location than directly next to the steering column where the circular wheel interferes with direct access.
 
The landscape style touch screen separates from the deeper set all-digital instrument panel.  A popular trend combines among other automakers merges these two screens together for a wide screen panoramic experience.  Personally, the Lexus strategy creates an easier eye-flow.

Between front buckets one finds a raised region and small, transmission knob traveling from R to N to D with a gentle push forward or back.  When shifting into park, this system requires a push of a ‘P’ button/icon aft of the shift knob. Raised, square-style beverage holders handle multiple sized drink vessels. A flat, wireless Smartphone charger pad resides ahead.

Lexus locates the square hinged door leading to the 14.5-galon gas tank on the driver’s side rear fender. Tank volume is slightly less than the gas and self-charging hybrid versions.  The plug port receiving electrical current to recharge from Level 1 and/or Level 2 sources locates behind a similar sized square hinged door on the passenger’s side rear fender.
 
When refilling with charged electrons, Lexus utilizes an onboard J1772 socket. This style permeates most PHEVs on the road today. Every TX550h+ purchase includes a Level 1 charging cable stored conveniently under the cargo area’s flat floor behind row three when not in use.
 
It’s pistol-grip-like end fits snuggly into the circular socket while the other plugs into a conventional, standard-sized 120-volt household outlet typically delivering 1kw of power. When connected, a red dashboard light blinks until the battery pack completes recharging. During our time together, the 120-volt outlet was the primary port charging the 33 miles of electric travel in 12 hours.

A sizeable (for a PHEV) seven kilowatt On Board Charger (OBC) converts the alternating current (AC) from the wall socket to direct current (DC) stored within the lithium-ion battery pack.  Onboard chargers also act as gatekeepers, helping to prevent PHEV and EV overcharging and are available in varying ampere capacities.  The higher the capacity, the less time needed during a recharge. For example, a recently tested similar- sized 2024 Volvo XC90 PHEV crossover included a smaller 3.7kw OBC which in effect doubled the time needed for a full recharge using a Level 2 outlet/charger.
 
Installing a Level 2 wall charger utilizing 240-volt household circuitry provides a far greater range of kilowatt power (between seven and 19) compared to Level 1. Thanks to the comparatively potent 7.0kw OBC, TX  Level 2 recharging time takes approximately three hours, besting several other PHEV competitors in the segment with smaller-rated on-board chargers.

The national average for installing/purchasing a Level 2 wall-mounted charger is around $1,300.  Illinois offers rebates for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment or EVSE (the fancy, official name for Level 2 wall units) installation including the ‘EV Charger and Installation Program’ from Com Ed highlighted during a press conference at the 2024 Chicago Auto Show.

The TX550h+, as with most PHEVs, doesn’t accept recharging from publicly available DC fast chargers useful when charging higher kilowatt hour EV battery packs. These higher-voltage ports bypass the vehicle’s onboard chargers, sending direct current uninhibited into the DC battery pack.
 
The TX550h + utilizes a lithium-ion style battery pack to store and release DC current. Lexus positions this flat, 96-celled, 18.1-kilowatt hour battery pack under floor outside the passenger cabin contributing to a lower center of gravity for improved handling.  By comparison, pure electric vehicles utilize larger battery packs in the 83.9-kilowatt-hour range taking considerably longer time to recharge.
 
Lexus assembles this PHEV in Princeton, Indiana, a key qualifier regarding the Federal Government’s maximum $7,500 tax credit applicable to select new 2024 EVs and PHEVs during 2024 dealer purchase.  However, since a majority of the lithium-ion battery pack’s critical minerals and components arrive from outside the United States and countries without free-trade agreements with the U.S. (another stipulation along with income qualifications), TX550h+ buyers miss out on this perk. One workaround involves leasing instead of buying, which provides a window of opportunity as long as details get spelled out clearly and crisply.
 
Illinois’ Electric Vehicle Rebate Program’s $4,000 incentive only applies to pure EVs, PHEVs including the TX550h+ are not eligible.

2024 Lexus TX550h+

Price as tested: $83,133
Engine:  3.6-liter V-6
Combined Horsepower: 404
Battery pack: 18.1 kwh
EV Range: 33 miles
Wheelbase: 116.14 inches
Length: 203.15 inches
Width: 78.35 inches
Height: 70.08 inches
Curb Weight: 5,400 pounds
Combined City/Highway Fuel Economy: 29 mpg
Assembly:  Princeton, Indiana