The three-row SUV market is becoming a crowded place. Toyota and its luxury cousin Lexus alone offer seven options of varying size. One of those is the new mid-size TX, which Lexus just introduced, even though it already offers two other SUVs, the GX and LX, with a third-row option.
“Back in 2018, Lexus identified the need for a three-row SUV with ride comfort and handling similar to that of a passenger vehicle. Our answer was the RX L,” Martin Gilbert, director of Lexus Canada, wrote in an e-mail. “The third row in the RX L was tight, but the idea was right – it just needed to be carried further.”
So, Lexus later dropped the RX L and created the all-new TX to address a gap in the product lineup. The LX and GX were both engineered for “maximum off-roading capability,” Gilbert explains, with their rugged design and body-on-frame construction leaving less room for the third-row seats. “The TX is a non body-on-frame [design] and the longest SUV in the Lexus lineup, which gives the TX best-in-class third-row space and generous comfort for up to seven adults,” he said.
Unlike the GX SUV and larger and more expensive LX SUV, the TX does not ride on a truck-based platform. The TX, which starts at almost $70,000, shares its platform with Toyota’s new, car-based Grand Highlander SUV.
It comes with three powertrain options, including two hybrids. There’s a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an electrified version with the same turbo engine mated to electric motors and a 3.5-litre V6 plug-in hybrid with 53 kilometres of estimated EV range. All powertrains can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
My tester is a Lexus TX 500h with an F Sport Performance 3 package, which costs an extra $6,000 and adds a long list of features including a head-up display, a panoramic moonroof, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, adaptive high beams and an advanced parking system.
Powering my tester is the mild hybrid option with two electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear. Together, they deliver 366 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.
Driving the TX 500h on city streets and highways is impressive, especially when cornering. It’s agile and sporty. Hit the gas, and it’s quick and responsive. The steering is tight – more like a BMW sports car than an average three-row SUV. Truth be told, the TX’s dynamic driving characteristics are surprising and unexpected in a luxury family hauler. It doesn’t share Lexus’s traditional soft, floaty and smooth road manners. Some people might not like the harshness or the stiff suspension. Over bumps and other degradations in the road, it’s not forgiving – you feel everything. But for drivers who want luxury and performance and don’t want to drive a minivan, the ride and handling is a strong selling point.
Inside, the TX is a home run in its execution and design. It’s luxurious and modern with high-quality materials throughout the cabin. A 14-inch touch screen takes centre stage. It’s intuitive and easy to use, and it creates a high-tech, sophisticated feel. You’ll find seven USB ports and several large, square cupholders in all three rows – the dual cupholders in the front have magnetic bottoms so they easily clip into place and are removable. The unconventional door handles with no traditional pulls are awkward to use at first, but you get used to them fast.
The TX’s tall, boxy body and squared-off rear translates into a spacious third row. Whichever seat and row you chose, you’ll have excellent headroom and legroom. My tester seats six; the second row has two cozy and large captain’s chairs, which are heated and ventilated with a removable centre-console box in between.
Likewise, the reclining third-row seats are comfortable – it doesn’t feel claustrophobic riding in those seats, owing to a high roofline, a panoramic roof and large rear windows. Getting into the third-row seats is a cinch, too, because of a large door entry opening, sliding second-row seats and a built-in grab handle. Press a switch on the shoulder of the second-row seat, and the seat tilts and slides forward, giving you sufficient space to enter easily. The second- and third-row seats can also drop to create a flat load surface to carry long items. From the cargo area, you can push a button to lower the third-row seats – even dropping the headrest, too.
The new 2024 Lexus TX is assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Indiana. Prices range from $68,750 (before freight, predelivery inspection and taxes) for the base TX 350 Luxury model to $90,200 for the TX 500h F Sport Performance 3 model. Lexus Canada hasn’t released pricing for the TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid model, yet.
2024 Lexus TX 500h (F Sport Performance)
- Base price/as tested: $84,200/$92,538.50 (plus taxes and $2,205 destination and delivery fee)
- Engine: 2.4-litre turbocharged hybrid with 366 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque
- Transmission/drive: Six-speed automatic / all-wheel drive
- Fuel consumption (litres per 100 kilometres): 8.7 city/8.4 highway
- Alternatives: Acura MDX, Cadillac XT6, Infiniti QX60, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE
Handsome styling with a new take on Lexus’s spindle grille that’s less polarizing. My tester adds beefy 22-inch aluminum alloy wheels, black roof rails, dark chrome window trim and a matte grey Incognito colour, which is exclusive on the F Sport Performance grades.
The TX has a luxurious, sophisticated and spacious cabin with an intuitive centre touch screen. My tester adds sporty touches such as pedals and scuff plates trimmed in aluminum, a leather-trimmed gear shift knob and seats with F Sport badging.
The stiff suspension and handing is unexpected for a Lexus and a large family hauler. But if you’re looking for a sporty, fun family ride, this one will please. You can choose between different drive modes, such as Normal, Eco, Sport, Custom and Trail.
Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 is standard on all models. Available features include Intelligent Assistant that lets you say “Hey Lexus,” and use voice commands to operate the navigation and climate control, and a digital key option so you can use your smartphone as a key to unlock and lock doors or start the vehicle.
Behind the third-row, there’s 572 litres of space. That increases to 1,625 litres when you drop the power third-row seats. My tester’s nickel-metal hydride battery is mounted beneath the second row so it doesn’t eat up trunk space.
Why bother with a traditional, boring old minivan? The new TX is a stylish, spacious and functional SUV with sporty driving dynamics you don’t expect to find in a family-sized Lexus vehicle.