What’s the Difference Between the Lexus TX and the Toyota Grand Highlander?

Recently, Toyota introduced two new vehicles – the Grand Highlander and the Lexus TX. The Grand Highlander is a slightly longer version of the venerable Highlander, the vehicle that so many have settled for because the significantly more functional Sienna minivan doesn’t match their desirable lifestyles. The Lexus TX is a more opulent version of Grand Highlander. It has roughly the same dimensions but offers features and options that may not be available on its Highlander sibling.

Both vehicles are slated to go into a new space for Toyota. This space is that for people who need a bigger vehicle than the Highlander but smaller than the Sequoia. Those people don’t travel off the pavement and don’t tow anything bigger than a bike rack. It is a very niche market but apparently big enough to develop those two vehicles.

Like most other Lexus vehicles that share platforms with their Toyota counterparts, the TX offers powertrain upgrades. In this case, the two base powerplants (choice of conventional or hybrid) with four-banger engines make slightly more power each, but that comes at the expense of using premium gas. This shouldn’t be a deal breaker because all the Lexus models weigh more due to their added luxuries, so it’s probably a wash in the end. Also, these are large three-row crossovers – if performance is your goal, you’re in the wrong place.

The most different model is the TX 550H+ model, which comes with a 3.5-liter V6 and hybrid system that cranks out a very impressive combined 404 horsepower. This is a plug-in hybrid model, and its huge advantage is the ability to travel up to 33 miles on batteries alone. But that horsepower number isn’t all that – the weight of those batteries and motors is significant. All models but the 500H are available in front or all-wheel-drive versions.

Inside, the general layout is surprisingly similar, down to the dash layout. I was told that the two interiors were designed by different groups but it sure looks like someone copied the other’s homework. Both vehicles offer seven seats, but based on the trim, the TX can have six seats and the Grand Highlander eight. This is because TX’s third row sits only two people as opposed to the Grand Highlander’s three. The focus here was on the comfort of the third-row seat. This is also the same reason why the Toyota has a little bit more cargo space behind the third-row seat.

The base Toyota is obviously budget-focused, but the top Platinum model has many overlapping features with the Lexus TX Standard (that’s the imaginative model name). Those include cooled seats, a panoramic sunroof, a kickass audio system, and some driver assistance features. Be careful when cross-shopping those two. But Lexus is also betting that its form will compensate over the similar functions.

Both vehicles have been developed specifically for the U.S., and both are made in Indiana. Both are on sale now, with the plug-in hybrid Lexus coming next spring. Prices obviously vary greatly based on the model, so check the automaker’s website. We will have a more detailed look at each of these in the future.

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