2024 Lexus TX 350 First Drive Review
Even the base model is a serious contender in the luxury three-row SUV segment.
The all-new 2024 Lexus TX is the first legitimately practical three-row midsize crossover SUV to wear the automaker's stylized L logos. Prior attempts at success in the segment included the rugged GX and compromised RX L, neither hitting the sweet spot for Lexus or its customers. The new 2024 TX strikes the right balance.
Previously, we published a Lexus TX 550h+ review detailing the plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) version of the new SUV, which costs nearly $80,000. This review concerns the Lexus TX 350, featuring the standard turbocharged gas-only powertrain and a base price of just over $55,000.
Lexus uses the Toyota Grand Highlander as the basis for the Lexus TX. Occasionally, the TX 350 looks, sounds, and feels more like a Toyota than a Lexus. However, it is usually convincing as a credible alternative to rivals from Acura, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lincoln, and Volvo.
The Lexus TX 350 Is the Most Affordable Version of the 2024 TX
Unlike the top-of-the-line TX 550h+ we reviewed the last time, the TX 350 is the entry-level version with the most affordable base price. Whereas the PHEV has Luxury trim as standard equipment, the TX 350 also offers a base level of specification and a Premium trim in addition to Luxury, so you can save a maximum of $22,000 by choosing it over the plug-in.
Lower prices typically translate to more affordable loan and lease payments, potentially making the TX 350 the most popular version of the new Lexus SUV.
Still, the two are more alike than you might guess, aside from what's under the hood and how they drive. The Lexus TX 350 has a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine powering its front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission (all-wheel drive is optional). The engine makes 275 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, significantly less than the PHEV's 404 horsepower rating.
In addition, the front-drive Lexus TX 350 fuel-economy ratings are 21/27/23 mpg in city/highway/combined driving (20/26/23 mpg with AWD).
Is a Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Right for a Midsize Three-Row Luxury SUV?
For this TX review, Lexus gave me a TX 350 with front-wheel drive (FWD). It had Luxury trim and several options that brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $67,869, including the $1,350 destination charge. I tested the SUV in Southern California.
The turbocharged four-cylinder is the same one Lexus uses in its smaller NX and RX SUVs. Toyota also employs it in the Highlander and Grand Highlander SUVs and the redesigned 2024 Tacoma pickup. In a Lexus TX 350 Luxury approaching the $70,000 mark, it comes across as unrefined. The engine note is unbecoming. Acceleration is no better than adequate with a family of four and no cargo aboard. The FWD versions also suffer some torque steer.
In addition, the test vehicle averaged just 20.4 mpg on the evaluation route, falling short of its official EPA rating. That's a 1.1-mpg improvement over the last three-row Lexus RX I drove, but that previous-generation model's 3.5-liter V6 was more satisfying overall.
Unfortunately, spending an extra 10 grand on the mid-level TX 500h hybrid doesn't rid the SUV of its turbo four. But that model is more powerful and efficient than the TX 350, so it's worth considering.
It's a shame Lexus has shelved its 3.5-liter V6 engine, because the TX 350's driving dynamics are otherwise pleasing. Lexus balances ride comfort and handling well, especially when the SUV has the test vehicle's optional 22-inch wheels. In addition, the responsive steering is perfectly weighted, and it's easy to bring the TX 350 to smooth, drama-free stops in the city or in traffic. The cabin remains a respite at highway speeds, as you expect from any luxury SUV.
The Tech Isn't Always Helpful, but the Third-Row Seat Sure Is
As for the TX's reason for being, the third-row seat is adult friendly and a great place to carry kids. It is more comfortable than you'll find in the 2023 GX and less like solitary confinement than the old RX L. Fold it down, and the TX supplies a Texas-sized 57.4 cubic-feet of cargo space. That expands to an even more impressive 97 cu-ft with the second-row lying flat.
Carrying your family is a TX 350 talent, thanks partly to the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 (LSS+ 3.0). Highlights of this package of advanced driving-assistance systems include Proactive Drive Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, and an adaptive cruise control system with automatic curve-speed adjustment.
Proactive Driving Assist can automatically brake and steer to maintain safe following distances and keep the Lexus TX within the intended travel lane. It is subtle, and you might like it once you get used to it. I didn't, so I turned it off.
Traffic Jam Assist lets you take your hands off the steering wheel while the TX autonomously follows traffic ahead, handling all acceleration, braking, and steering tasks. It only works at low speeds, though, like during a weekday commute. At higher speeds, you must hold the steering wheel.
The adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assist system perform their jobs well. Unfortunately, the TX can abruptly brake when traffic cuts into the gap ahead and returns to your selected speed in a leisurely fashion. Also, the automatic curve-speed adjustment is irritating, but that's been my experience with the technology regardless of what vehicle has it.
Lexus also equips the TX with a 14.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. To take maximum advantage of all it offers, you'll want to activate the complimentary free trial subscriptions to connected services and pay for them when they expire. Or, you can pair your smartphone and wirelessly run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
My least favorite thing about the new Lexus TX is the optional Technology package. It comes with a head-up display (HUD), which is excellent. But it also trades well-marked steering wheel controls for unmarked switchgear that requires hand-eye coordination between the HUD and the steering wheel, creating unnecessary driver distraction.
Too Little, Too Late?
In 2001, Acura introduced the MDX, a luxurious three-row midsize crossover SUV that ultimately served as the basis for the Honda Pilot. In 2013, Infiniti rolled out the JX35 (renamed QX60 a year later), the precursor to the fourth-generation Nissan Pathfinder. Now Lexus finally has a direct competitor, based on the Toyota Grand Highlander.
What took so long? Who knows, but considering the time Lexus had to study this market, you might expect something more than a restyled, more luxe version of a Toyota to woo shoppers in this segment. After all, automakers from Acura and Audi to Volvo compete for the same people.
Still, as Lexus says, its "customers in North America have long asked for a three-row SUV that offers substantial space and seating without compromising the innovative technology, refined performance, and luxurious amenities they expect." Ultimately, that might be all that matters. And the new 2024 Lexus TX mostly delivers.