2024 Lexus TX Plug-In Hybrid Review and Test Drive
Lexus builds an all-new three-row crossover SUV with a V6-powered plug-in hybrid twist.
Walking up to the all-new 2024 Lexus TX 550h+, I headed straight for the rear door of this three-row luxury SUV. As much as I was enthusiastic about jumping behind the wheel and taking the Lexus brand's first-ever V6-powered plug-in hybrid out for a drive, the big question in my mind was how roomy and accessible the third-row seat was. In my experience, three-row midsize SUVs typically don't offer as much space as you expect, and getting in and out can also be challenging.
So, I was pleasantly surprised by the relative ease by which I could access the TX's third row and how my 6-foot, 2-inch frame settled in back there. Pressing a single button slides and tilts the second-row seat forward enough to create a passage for an adult to fit through.
Once seated in the third row, I had about an inch between my head and the roof, and with the middle seats moved into their regular positions, my knees just cleared the second-row seat backs. The third-row seating position is low, there's not much cushion padding, and leg support is lacking, but I could have been a passenger back there for a shorter trip without being too uncomfortable. That's progress.
Advancement also characterizes the TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid's powertrain, which provides an estimated 33 miles of range driving solely on electrons. After that, the gasoline V6 engine turns on to ensure you can continue your journey. With that electric range, the 2024 Lexus TX plug-in hybrid provides enough juice for shorter commutes, school and sports shuttling, and local errand running.
2024 Lexus TX 550h+ Prices and Configurations
When it arrives at U.S. dealers in the first quarter of 2024, the TX 550h+ will top the 2024 Lexus TX lineup. It also includes a gas-powered TX 350 available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD) and a TX 500h F Sport gas-electric hybrid with AWD. Base, Premium, and Luxury trim levels are available, but the TX 550h+ comes only with Luxury-level equipment.
The TX 350 in base trim starts in the mid-$50,000s while TX 500h F Sport Luxury prices kick off from the mid-$70,000s, including the $1,350 destination charge to ship the SUV from the Princeton, Indiana, factory that builds it to your local Lexus dealership. Given its status as the top model in the TX lineup, don't be surprised if the TX 550h+ Luxury reaches nearly $80,000 before adding any extras. Of course, that's also before applying any available tax credits or other other rebates and incentives.
For this Lexus TX review, I drove the TX550h+ Luxury in and around Austin, Texas. Lexus provided the vehicle for this TX 550h+ review and paid for airfare, lodging, and meals during the evaluation period.
Form Follows Function, Practically Speaking
Compared with the adventurously styled Lexus RX, the new TX offers a more traditional shape that prioritizes interior space for passengers and cargo. Naturally, it sports the unmistakable Lexus spindle-shaped nose and a body-color grille with horizontal slats, but overall, the automaker tones down the TX's styling, compared with the more expressive RX.
As expected in a Lexus, the TX's interior materials are top-notch, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces. However, the overall design, while attractive, doesn't wow an observer. The layout is clean and contemporary, with a horizontal theme that sweeps nicely into the doors but lacks visual interest.
Lexus integrates many of the controls into the standard 14.0-inch central touchscreen, which includes most of the multi-zone automatic climate-control system settings except for a pair of large temperature-setting dials for the driver and front passenger. The second-row passengers get their own set of climate controls.
A compact electric transmission shifter with satisfyingly precise, short throws inhabits the center console, and the driver interacts with a pleasingly tactile, leather-wrapped, heated, and power-adjustable steering wheel. As with the latest Lexus RX and RZ, the interior door latches are electric, popping the door open when you tap the latch pad.
Take Your Seats
Customers expect comfort in a Lexus, and the new TX 550h+ does not disappoint. Wrapped in buttery-soft premium perforated leather, the front seats offer good support but prioritize comfort. With 10-way power adjustment, including for lumbar and thigh supports, the heated and ventilated front seats can please a range of physiques. In addition, getting in and out of the TX is easier than with a Lexus GX or LX.
The TX 550h+ has a pair of heated, ventilated, and reclining captain's chairs in the second row. Sun shades for the second-row windows add privacy and reduce sunlight.
As mentioned, you access the third row using a one-touch tilt and slide mechanism to clear the second-row seats from your path. The power reclining and folding third-row seats use thin bottom and back cushions to facilitate a flat cargo floor when folded down. Nevertheless, there is just enough headroom and legroom for a pair of 6-foot-tall adults to sit back there for a while.
The Lexus TX Is Great for Road Trips
Lexus knows you'll likely take road trips in the new TX, so the company equips the SUV with plenty of storage and cargo space.
Highlights include a configurable front console, a tray under the dashboard for the standard wireless phone charger and other items, and a deep bin under a center armrest featuring a bomb-bay door design, allowing convenient access for the driver and front passenger. Between the second-row captain's chairs, there's a floor-mounted console with a set of removable cup holders. Even the third-row passengers get places to stash stuff.
Open the hands-free liftgate with a foot wave under the rear bumper, and the TX 550h+ presents you with 20.2 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the third-row seats. As Lexus demonstrated to the media during the TX ride-and-drive program, there's room for up to seven roll-aboard suitcases if you are okay with stacking them floor to ceiling.
Many owners will likely fold the third row down except when adding passengers, expanding the cargo area to 57.4 cu-ft. The TX's boxy shape pays off with the second- and third-row seats folded down, opening up 97 cu-ft of maximum cargo space. That is more cargo space than in the full-size Lexus LX.
2024 Lexus TX Lexus Interface System
Every TX 550h+ has a Lexus Interface infotainment system with a 14.0-inch touchscreen dominating the dashboard. This large, landscape-format screen is bright and sharp with sizable icons that the driver stands a chance of tapping successfully to access various menus when the TX is moving. That's good, because the system has few physical controls besides a power on/off and volume knob below the screen and tuning and volume adjustment buttons on the steering wheel.
The infotainment system includes:
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
- Text-messaging support
- SiriusXM satellite radio (with a three-month trial subscription)
- Five different connected service plans with complimentary trial periods of varying lengths:
- DriveConnect (cloud navigation, intelligent assistant, and destination assist)
- Wi-Fi Connect (access to an AT&T hotspot)
- Remote Connect (remote vehicle locking/unlocking, remote engine start, and more)
- Safety Connect (emergency response, vehicle tracking, and more)
- Service Connect (vehicle health reports, maintenance reminders, and more)
Pairing my Samsung smartphone via Bluetooth was quick and painless, and I had no issues running Android Auto or streaming music from my Pandora account.
Drive Connect equips the TX with an excellent cloud-based navigation system with detailed and colorful maps and a voice-activated intelligent assistant, so I had little need to run Android Auto. Simply uttering the phrase, "Hey Lexus," rouses the assistant. Then, you can ask it to find and navigate to a Google-updated point of interest, change the audio source or radio station, adjust the cabin temperature, and perform many other in-cabin tasks. With the intelligent assistant feature, I got prompt and accurate responses using simple conversational English. Lexus includes a complimentary three-year trial subscription to Drive Connect.
My TX 550h+ test vehicle also had the available 21-speaker Mark Levinson PurePlay surround-sound audio system, which delivered crystal-clear fidelity and concert hall-worthy immersion into the music.
Beyond the infotainment system, the 2024 Lexus TX offers a selection of features to enhance the ownership experience. A head-up display, a camera-based digital rearview mirror, and a semi-automated parking system are among these.
My TX 550h+ had the head-up display, which shows essential data at the base of the windshield within the driver's field of view, thereby minimizing distraction. It also had the digital rearview mirror, which uses a small camera to provide a clearer view when you've filled the rear seats with passengers or loaded the cargo area to the roof. My only quibble with the camera-based mirror is that vehicles following the TX appear farther away than they are.
Advanced Park with Remote Park provides semi-autonomous maneuvering into or out of parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. The system takes control of all driving tasks, and the Remote Park function allows you to park the vehicle while standing outside of it, using a smartphone app to control it.
Lexus Safety System+ 3.0
Lexus fits the new TX with an extensive list of advanced driving-assistance systems packaged as the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. They include:
- Forward-collision warning
- Automatic emergency braking
- Automatic emergency steering assist
- Lane-departure warning
- Lane-keeping assist
- Lane-centering assist
- Adaptive cruise control
In addition, the TX has:
- Automatic high-beam headlamps
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Traffic-jam assist
- Proactive Driving Assist
- Emergency-stop assist
- Safe-exit assist
- Rear-seat reminder
During my time driving the TX in Texas, two of these systems proved their worth. On the back-country two-lane roads outside of Austin, Proactive Driving Assist automatically slowed for curves, including a decreasing radius one that took me by surprise. In addition, it braked for slower vehicles ahead in my lane, most notably a farm vehicle I came upon quickly after rounding a different curve. In all cases, Proactive Driving Assist adjusted the SUV's speed before I knew the need to take corrective action, making me a smoother, safer driver.
While swapping one TX for another at a vehicle-change point, the safe-exit assist system came to the rescue. I was grabbing my gear to change into another vehicle and not focusing on another Lexus passing by just outside the driver's door from behind. When I went to tap the touch-sensitive interior door latch to exit, the system beeped, displayed a warning on the digital instrumentation panel, and blocked my door from opening directly into the path of the passing SUV. Once the Lexus had passed, the system allowed me to exit.
As of this writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has performed crash tests on the 2024 Lexus TX.
The TX 550h+ Is the First Lexus Plug-in Hybrid With a V6 Engine
The 2024 Lexus TX 550h+ combines a 3.5-liter V6 gas engine with front and rear electric motors and an 18.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The total system output measures 404 horsepower, making it the most powerful of the three powertrains offered in the TX. Ironically, it's also the most fuel-efficient variant, with an estimated fuel consumption of 29/28/29 mpg city/highway/combined after using the estimated 33 miles of electric-only range.
Power flows to the wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission and a standard Direct4 all-wheel-drive system. Direct4 AWD can vary the percentage of drive torque delivered to the wheels, from 100% to the front and up to 80% to the rear, depending on available grip and the rate of acceleration.
According to Lexus, the nearly 2.5-ton TX 550h+ can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. That's 0.2 seconds quicker than the TX 500h F Sport and about 2.0 seconds faster than the turbocharged four-cylinder TX 350. The TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Lexus says you can recharge the TX 550h+ model's battery in about three hours using a 240-volt outlet, the 6.6-kilowatt-hour onboard charger, and the supplied charge cord. You can also plug the SUV into a standard 120-volt household outlet, but Lexus doesn't disclose how long it might take to recharge using this electrical source. The TX 550h+ does not support DC fast charging.
The Lexus TX Drives Smaller Than It Looks
Considering the generous amount of passenger and cargo space the new Lexus TX offers, the new three-row SUV drives smaller than it looks.
With its nicely damped MacPherson strut front/multilink coil rear suspension and tight, jiggle-free unitized body construction, the TX's ride frequency is more akin to a passenger car than a hulking truck. The TX's nicely weighted electric steering reinforces that impression. Despite its generous proportions, this Lexus is easy to maneuver around town and feels stable on the highway.
The TX 550h+ features larger front brake rotors with aluminum monoblock six-piston front brake calipers to maintain good stopping power despite the plug-in hybrid's extra weight. Courtesy of the electronic brake booster, the pedal feel is quite good, offering outstanding top-of-pedal response and the ability to control deceleration with pinpoint accuracy. Engineers are doing a much better job blending the regenerative braking, which recharges the hybrid battery with mechanical braking for a near-seamless transition.
As you'd expect of a Lexus, the TX 550h+ is quiet on the road, thanks to the extensive use of soundproofing material and strategically placed, thicker acoustic glass. Wind noise is virtually absent at highway speeds, and you won't hear any tire sizzle despite the plug-in hybrid's large P255/45R22 all-season tires.
Part of the motoring silence is the hybrid powertrain itself. Unless you're making a heavy demand for cabin heating or cooling, the TX 550h+ operates in electric mode when stationary, when lightly accelerating from a stop, when decelerating in advance of a stop, and during low-load periods of steady-state cruising. Pushing harder on the accelerator wakes up the engine, which in the TX 550h+ is a sweeter-sounding V6 rather than the slightly buzzier, coarser sound of the four-cylinder engine in the Lexus TX 500h hybrid.
Aside from the quiet, the other defining characteristic of the new TX 550h+ is how smooth it is during powertrain transitions, seamlessly switching from gas/electric hybrid to pure electric modes. Smooth and quiet, with ample but not exhilarating acceleration, the new Lexus TX 550h+ exemplifies the kind of luxury that doesn't call attention to itself.
The TX Fills a Texas-Sized Hole in the Lexus SUV Lineup
Lexus has sold three-row SUVs before, but never as roomy and comfortable as the new 2024 TX. Able to comfortably carry up to seven people and plenty of their luggage, all wrapped in a luxurious three-row crossover SUV package, the TX finally gives buyers seeking this kind of vehicle a compelling reason to visit a Lexus store.
As for the TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid, if you want a luxury SUV with this type of powertrain, there are few alternatives to the Lexus. BMW offers the X5 xDrive50e, Lincoln sells the Aviator Grand Touring, and Volvo has the XC90 Recharge. Porsche and Range Rover offer plug-in hybrid power, too, but at a significant price premium.
While it may lack the styling pizazz of other recent Lexus SUVs, some people might consider that a good thing. No matter what you think of its look, the new Lexus TX is a compelling choice in its segment.