2024 Lexus TX 550h+ Review: A Lone Star Shining Bright in the Plug-In Hybrid Constellation

2024 Lexus TX 550h+ Review: A Lone Star Shining Bright in the Plug-In Hybrid Constellation

Critique: The forthcoming 2024 Lexus TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid stands out in the TX lineup

The soon-to-be-released 2024 Lexus TX hits nearly all the right notes, particularly with one of its models.

The vehicle in question is a sizable, square-shaped SUV offering ample room for adults in each of its three rows. It’s equipped with doors that open widely, a cargo area that can be adjusted for more space by folding seats flat, and it has a convenient low height for loading items. Additionally, there’s a TX 500h hybrid model, and for those interested in an upgrade, there’s the TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid that boasts up to 33 miles of electric-only travel.

During a recent test drive of the 2024 Lexus TX series, it became clear that this model fits perfectly into its niche. The vehicle handles turns and rough terrain with more grace and stability than larger SUVs such as the Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade. It encompasses everything you’d expect from a Lexus, boasting an extensive array of amenities and technology, a sumptuous interior finish, and an exterior design that subtly exudes sophistication.

In aspects that matter to most families, it’s quite satisfactory, though it may not impress with its technical specifications. However, when it comes to the premier model, the TX550h, it competes well with rivals such as the Volvo XC90 Recharge.

The 2024 model of the Lexus TX 550h

Jump straight to the component that ensures harmonious operation among all parts. The TX 550h+ features a powerful 259-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which is a key element of Toyota’s sophisticated planetary hybrid setup, complemented by a 179-hp electric motor for propulsion. Additionally, it boasts a 101-hp electric motor dedicated to powering the rear wheels, with the whole system delivering a total of 404 hp. This model is equipped with a substantial 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which Lexus claims can achieve a 33-mile range solely on electric power. Once the EV range is exhausted, the vehicle operates as a hybrid with a combined fuel efficiency of 29 mpg.

Lexus TX 550h+ PHEV Configuration

This hybrid vehicle, equipped with a dual-motor setup, operates smoothly and swiftly when in electric vehicle mode. During the limited distance I covered, I noticed its performance didn’t appear to be lacking, and it maintained electric power even when I fully pressed the accelerator, similar to the impressive NX 450h+, which also doesn’t default to the gas engine in such instances.

The Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) offers immediate torque upon pressing the accelerator due to its hybrid nature. Indeed, the auditory feedback from the 550h+ engine doesn’t perfectly match the feeling of speeding up or slowing down, yet this is easily overlooked given the V-6’s noticeably superior sound compared to the less impressive four-cylinder engine in alternate versions (which I will expand on later).

Upcoming Lexus TX Model Set for

I pressed and held the EV mode button to activate Charge mode, which often causes the engine to operate more frequently to power up the battery. My goal was to test the loudest potential situation for engine sounds, and even then, the V-6 was quiet and detached.

The 500h F Sport may offer a slightly more spirited drive compared to its siblings, but it’s the premier TX 550h+ that truly stands out as the optimal choice for those seeking performance, provided they can afford its anticipated cost exceeding $75,000. The TX 550h+ is slated for its initial rollout in early 2024, while other models in the TX range are hitting the market currently.

The 550h+ offers a smooth and cushioned driving experience while maintaining a solid feel, paired with an engine that delivers speed on demand. It complements the car’s lively character well, and the engine sound in hybrid mode is barely noticeable. Plus, the added advantage of its electric-only driving distance shouldn’t be overlooked.

Upcoming 2024 Lexus TX

The upcoming 2024 model of the Lexus TX 500h

2024 Model of Lexus TX 500h in the F Sport

The F Sport TX 500h hybrid struggles with its inconsistent messaging

Positioned in the higher-end segment of the TX range, the F Sport TX 500h models come in at a starting price of $69,350 for the Premium and $72,650 for the Luxury variants, compared to the more affordable non-hybrid models which start at $55,050. Lexus promotes it as the most thrilling option to drive. However, after considerable contemplation, I find it to be lively yet unpredictable.

The TX 500h is equipped with an 85-horsepower electric motor that’s integrated into a 6-speed automatic gearbox, along with a variant of the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 271 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. Additionally, it features a 1.4-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery and a 101-horsepower motor that powers the rear wheels only. When you combine the entire system, it delivers a total output of 366 horsepower.

Lexus TX 500h’s hybrid engine setup

Toyota’s system, known as Hybrid Max, is unnamed within the Lexus brand. Representatives from Lexus have mentioned that this hybrid technology will only be featured in vehicles bearing the F Sport designation.

Naohisa Hatta, the lead technical expert for the TX, shared with me that the 500h F Sport’s hybrid setup was crafted to align with a distinct range of driving characteristics. Having experienced several models equipped with this system, I have a clearer grasp of these characteristics, yet I remain skeptical about its purpose. Moreover, this system seems even more mismatched in the TX compared to its implementation in the Lexus RX or Toyota Crown.

Trailing behind slower vehicles on the serpentine roads of Texas’s Hill Country, the TX 500h occasionally displayed hesitation and irregular shift patterns, even though I was steady on the gas pedal. Apart from that, the F Sport model seemed perfectly at home with its ride quality and maneuverability. As I experimented with different driving modes, none seemed to resolve the hybrid system’s roughness at lower speeds. Additionally, my early model exhibited some rough vibrations around the footrest, and the four-cylinder engine’s rumble was rough around the edges, even with active noise-canceling technology at work.

2024 Model of the Lexus TX 500h with F Sport

However, once I put my foot down, everything fell into place. Essentially, the TX 500h is designed for navigating straight highways and quickly taking on winding country lanes, and it becomes more stable the more aggressively you push it.

The journey’s onboard computer highlighted another drawback of this configuration: when you accelerate harder, fuel efficiency significantly drops. Despite the brief encounter with the TX 500h, only encompassing a few rounds totaling under 60 miles on various road types, it suggested that one might anticipate miles per gallon figures in the lower twenties.

Upcoming 2024 Lexus TX 500h F Sport model

The Lexus TX doesn’t offer a complete package

There seems to be a suitable role for the so-called Hybrid Max system, but spending more time with the 550h+ in its hybrid setting truly highlighted how much better suited this powertrain is for the car.

The 550h+ is roughly 400 pounds heavier than the F Sport 500h, however, during most driving conditions other than high-intensity performance drives, it seemed to me that it was the lighter car. Once I turned off the Proactive Driving Assist system in both cars, which inconsistently increases regeneration, the tuning of the 550h+ seemed more harmonious with the car, softening the perceived bulk through smooth regeneration, and felt surprisingly agile due to its constant supply of torque without the need for jerky gear changes.

According to the technical details, the 550h+ leads the pack with the fastest 0-60 mph time, clocking in at 5.9 seconds. Closely following is the 500h with a time of 6.1 seconds, while the TX 350 trails with a 7.8 to 8.0 second range. However, all models have the capability to pull a maximum of 5,000 pounds.

2024 model of Lexus TX 550h+, a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

2024 model of the Lexus TX 550h+, a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Upcoming 2024 Lexus TX 550h+ model with plug-in hybrid technology.

Despite reservations regarding the TX 500h’s engine and transmission setup, I found its handling to be superior within its range, notably as it’s the sole variant equipped with a system for steering the rear wheels. The TX benefits from distinct subframes for its front and rear suspension systems, enhancing isolation from any roughness on the road. Its construction, with a front strut and rear five-link design, ensures the vehicle has the ride quality and cornering ability more akin to a large luxury car than a traditional SUV with a separate body and frame. Lexus claims that the F-Sport version offers an intensified driving experience at every curve, and I concur that it does indeed feel sprightlier when driven aggressively.

Every model in the TX series is equipped with ventilated disc brakes on both the front and back wheels. However, the TX 500h and 550h+ versions are enhanced with superior aluminum monobloc 6-piston calipers at the front, paired with bigger brake discs.

In an ideal scenario, a top-tier F Sport 550h+ complete with rear-wheel steering would fill the current void in the flagship series. While head engineer Hatta didn’t rule out the steering feature, the other elements may still be in the pipeline.

2024 Lexus TX 350 Deluxe Edition

2024 Lexus TX 350 Deluxe Edition

2024 Lexus TX 350 Deluxe Edition

2024 Lexus TX 350 Luxury Edition

Are the hybrid versions of the Lexus TX likely to be scarce?

Lexus has upended my expectations by revealing that it anticipates the traditional TX 350 models will dominate sales at 80% during its initial year, leaving the TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid to account for a smaller portion of the remaining 20%.

Taking a closer look at the engine specifications, the standard TX 350 is fairly average. It’s equipped with a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, delivering 275 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, available in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Its performance is passable, though not particularly impressive, clocking in 0-60 mph times around eight seconds, experiencing a noticeable delay off the line, and necessitating multiple gear downshifts to really get the power going on hilly two-lane roads.

The 2024 model of the Lexus TX, labeled

The image becomes less appealing once you take into account the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, which stands at a mere 23 miles per gallon for both front-wheel and all-wheel drive options (though if you have to choose, opt for all-wheel drive). Indeed, this is only a slight 1 mile per gallon improvement over the previously sold Lexus RX 350 L, which despite its larger size, offered a noticeably more refined and lively V-6 engine.

The 2024 TX perfectly captures the essence of the ideal American three-row SUV in terms of design, coziness, and amenities. One can only wish that it won’t overshadow the plug-in variant, which offers the optimal drive and is the most logical choice for numerous households. With its nearly 30-mpg hybrid efficiency, sufficient electric range for daily travel, and the smoothest ride, it stands out as the singular standout in this range, at least for the moment.



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