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The 2024 Lexus TX 500h Excels as a Classy People Mover

a car parked on a road
Lexus TX 500h Excels as a Classy People MoverHearst Owned

Forget the family. Remember the money.

The 2024 Lexus TX 500h F-Sport isn’t a machine for taking the tribe to Wally World. It’s not a mall prowler, tot hauler, or carpooler. It can do all those things and do them well. But in its soul, it’s about picking people up at the airport. It’s an efficient livery machine, a utility player hiding under a luxury brand. It does everything a Cadillac Escalade does except tow huge weights. For the business of hauling clients from the hotel to the game, or teenagers from the post-prom party to IHOP, this is the optimal tool.

It's commercial class. This thing’s purpose is closer to that of an Airbus A220 than to an RX, NX, LX or WhateverX with which it shares the Lexus shed. Buy one, register with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and watch the profits roll in.

a car with its lights on
Plenty of tail.John Pearley Huffman - Hearst Owned

The TX is the largest and longest vehicle Toyota/Lexus builds with the TNGA platform (transverse engine) components. At 203.5 inches long it’s 2.1 inches longer than its three-row TNGA brother the Toyota Grand Highlander with which it shares a 116.1-inch wheelbase. The TX is available in other forms, but as a 500h, it’s powered by a 2.4-liter, 271-hp turbocharged four paired with Toyota’s well-proven hybrid system for a total output of 366 hp. That’s not a world-beating number, and it’s also beside the point. It’s enough.

a silver car on a road with a city skyline in the background
Lexus’s biggest. A true three-row SUV that replaces the dopey RX 350L.Courtesy Lexus - Hearst Owned

That power goes through a six-speed automatic transaxle that drives the front wheels while electricity flows to a supplementary 85-hp front “motor generator” and a rear motor generator that is rated at 101 hp. They are supported by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack with a modest 1.4 kilowatt/hour capacity. Not lithium-ion. NiMH. It's not the newest tech, but it is well-proven and established.

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Testing shows the TX500h F-Sport sprinting to 60 mph in a spry 5.7 seconds with the quarter mile completed in an easy-going 14.5 seconds at 95 mph. Fine. If anyone detects the transmission shifting, some sort of weird mutation must be involved. Maybe there’s a heretofore unknown gland.

The F-Sport package includes “adaptive variable suspension” and those talents emerge if the vehicle is pushed hard enough. Okay, but why push this thing? Instead, load it up.

Way out back, behind the third row of seats, there is 20.2 cubic feet of cargo room. That’s only about 5.5 cubic feet less than the 120.9-inch wheelbase Cadillac Escalade ESV (the Suburban equivalent) has. There’s not only seating for six in this Lexus but there’s room enough for at least most of their stuff.

Theoretically, there’s enough room in the Escalade ESV for seven people, but that puts three on the rearmost bench. Not that comfy. The Lexus doesn’t pretend to swallow seven.

a car parked on a road
Not great looking. But for Lexus, the grilled counts as "subdued."Hearst Owned

This all matters because while an Escalade ESV is roomier in general, it also weighs 5580 pounds, says GM, and is powered by a standard 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 that isn’t lashed to a hybrid system. It's no surprise that the Cadillac is EPA-rated at 14 mpg in the city, 18 mpg on the highway with a combined rating of 16 mpg. The not-lightweight 4970-pound Lexus TX 500h hybrid, on the other hand, is EPA-rated at 27 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined. That’s a huge advantage, particularly in stop-and-go city traffic, where fuel costs matter. And in the livery business, costs always matter.

Maybe clients would prefer being picked up in the flashier Cadillac, but the lower step in the Lexus TX means that it's easier to get into. The Lexus is at least as quiet, rides even better than the Caddy and the interior is just as luxurious by most standards. Beyond that, the Lexus is beautifully built.

the interior of a car
In a world of screens, the Lexus TX has screens. The cockpit has more car-like ergonomics than truck-based SUVs and the shifter feels as if it’s actually shifting something,Hearst Owned

And the Lexus is cheaper. The cheapest Cadillac Escalade ESV Luxury 4WD model starts at an MSRP of $86,890. Meanwhile, the Lexus TX 500h F Sport Performance Premium AWD’s base price is $69,350. What’s $17,540 among friends?

A family with a boat to haul to the lake will prefer the Escalade and take the efficiency hit in daily use. But for the flinty-eyed businessperson looking to optimize the return on their investment in a livery fleet buy the Lexus. In fact, buying five TX 500h F Sports for $346,750 is less than the $347,560 cost of four Cadillac Escalade ESVs.

This is Road & Track, so concentrating on the commercial viability of a vehicle is not the usual analysis here. But there simply isn’t anything that’s exciting about how the Lexus TX drives. The seats are all comfortable, the HVAC system is flexible and effective, it’s quiet and it rides well. The term “F Sport” barely applies here. Mostly it shows up as those 22-inch wheels and tires. That's fine but it's not what the TX is at its core… a box that efficiently moves people around in some luxury. At that job, it excels.

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