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A Beginner's Guide To Lexus SUVs and Crossovers: Overview of UX, NX, RX, GX, and LX

2020 Lexus RX vs. 2020 Lexus GX
Image by Autotrader

A Beginner’s Guide To Lexus SUVs and Crossovers: Overview of UX, NX, RX, GX, and LX

Since its debut in 1989, Lexus has developed a reputation for rock-solid and stylish vehicles, including a broad lineup of SUVs and crossovers . But sorting out which Lexus utility to choose can get confusing as you sort through the alphabet soup of model badges. And because there’s no hierarchy based on the names, things can get even more bewildering. Read on as we walk you through the difference between UX, NX, RX, GX, and LX.

Keep in mind, that overview looks at more recent Lexus model years. Older examples may have different specifications and equipment.

Lexus UX

The UX stands for “Urban Explorer” and is the newest addition to the Lexus crossover lineup. The UX sits right below the NX as the most affordable and compact of the five models.

Available in six different trims, the UX line starts at the UX 200 and goes to the top of line UX 250h Luxury (“h” signifies that it’s a hybrid). The UX divides its range between conventional or hybrid power, with each choice coming in base, F-sport, or Luxury variants.

For the standard UX model, you get a 169-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplant paired with a ten-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a front-wheel drivetrain. Move to the base hybrid , and you get the same 2.0-liter engine combined with a Lexus hybrid drive that produces 181 combined horsepower. The hybrid also comes with an all-wheel-drive (AWD), while all non-hybrids are only front-wheel drive (FWD).

Thanks to the added grip and extra power (and despite the excess weight), the UX hybrid is 0.3 seconds faster in a 0-60 mph dash at 8.6 seconds. The hybrid also enjoys better fuel economy at 41 mpg (highway) while the base offers 37 mpg. Even though all UXs have the same exterior dimensions, the hybrid provides 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the base’s 17.1 cubic feet.

Aside from the two powertrain options, Lexus also offers a UX F Sport and a UX Luxury. Both of which are available with the gas-powered or hybrid setup.

While Lexus doesn’t provide any power upgrades for the F Sport or Luxury, the F Sport enjoys a sport-tuned suspension, exterior accents, and upgraded front seats. The Luxury trim includes premium features like heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a power tailgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and acoustic side glass.

All UX trims include advanced driver safety technology (like automatic emergency braking), a state-of-the-art infotainment system, and luxury-oriented interiors.

Lexus NX

Next up is the Lexus NX, a premium compact crossover that shares its DNA with the Toyota RAV4. Released in 2014, the NX has entered its second generation offering a similar range of trims as the UX.

The NX lineup starts with the NX 250 powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission enabling it to hit 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds. The time gets 0.4 sec slower if you opt for AWD compared to FWD.

The NX 350 is part of this model lineup and comes with conventional or hybrid power. Short of the engine choice and a few technology upgrades, the NX 350 is similar to the NX 250. Underneath the hood is a turbocharged 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 275 horsepower. The power plant is paired with the same eight-speed automatic transmission used throughout the NX lineup. The NX 350h has a hybrid engine making 240 horsepower.

In addition to the base NX 350, you also get the NX 350 F Sport Handling trim with a sport-tuned suspension, 20-inch wheels, and interior upgrades similar to the UX F Sport. The only NX that offers F Sport is the top-of-the-line NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid.

The NX 450h+ is the most powerful and fuel-efficient NX variant with a 304 horsepower plug-in hybrid engine . The 450h+ is primarily similar to the 250 and 350 as far as equipment. However, there’s a significant difference in performance: 0-60 mph in 6 seconds and an estimated 84 MPGe.

While there’s no pure luxury NX in the series, all trims (except) the NX 450h+ can be equipped with the optional Luxury Package.

Lexus RX

The RX is the brand’s best-seller and helped solidify Lexus as a luxury leader. The mid-sized RX crossover comes in numerous trims and configurations. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the available RX variations.

In a nutshell, there are two powertrains and two body styles. You’ve got either the RX 350 with a conventional 3.5-liter V-6 making 295 horsepower (290 in the larger L) and 263 lb-ft of torque or the RX 450h with the same V-6 engine but in a hybrid system that produces 306 combined horsepower. Lexus does not offer an RX with a plug-in hybrid option.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the RX lineup, as is FWD for gas-powered models. AWD is optional with the conventional powertrain and included with hybrid versions. The regular RX can accommodate five, while the bigger RX L seats seven.

Put that all together for either an RX 350, RX 350L, RX 450h, or RX 450hL. Skipping a discussion of any special editions, these variants come in either base trim or the F Sport version. The base can be upgraded with the Premium and Luxury Packages for more upscale touches, while numerous options are available separately for models in the F Sport trim.

Lexus GX

Lexus’ second-largest SUV is the full-sized GX which comes standard with third-row seating and more robust off-road capability. Its body-on-frame construction (which is why it gets the SUV and not crossover label) houses a naturally-aspirated 4.6-liter V-8 with dual variable-valve technology. This engine technology allows for an ideal combination of low-speed torque and high-speed horsepower, giving the GX trailering ability up to 6,500 pounds.

The GX’s 301-horsepower engine is paired with an electronically controlled six-speed sequential automatic transmission delivering power to a full-time four-wheel drivetrain. Boosting its off-road capabilities is a Torsen limited-slip center differential with a locking electronic differential. The GX also boasts a Lexus Kinetic Dynamic suspension kit to improve ride comfort, increase stabilization, and reduce body roll.

Buyers can choose from three trims, the base GX 460, 460 Premium, and 460 Luxury. All three versions rely on the same powertrain, with the main differences being interior features and equipment. For example, the Premium gets tri-zone automatic climate control and heated and ventilated front seats. At the same time, the Luxury includes an adaptive suspension, power-operated third-row seating, and upgraded leather upholstery.

Lexus LX

The LX is the ultimate Lexus SUV. Sitting at the top of the range, it boasts a massive V-8 power plant with a body-on-frame construction based on the Toyota Land Cruiser. Boasting similar capabilities to its lesser cousin, LX offers best-in-class amenities and luxury features.

Lexus offers the LX570 in two-row or three-row form as well as the unique LX Inspiration Series with blacked-out exteriors and interiors. The standard naturally-aspirated 5.7-liter V-8 makes 383 horsepower and 403 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters to produce a respectable 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds.

Given its Land Cruiser DNA, the four-wheel-drive only LX 570 shines when it comes to off-road credentials. The multi-terrain select system offers crawl control and height control for improved operation off the pavement. And included trailer sway control enables the LX to tow up to 7,000 pounds with ease.

Standard cabin gear includes heated and ventilated front seats, a 60/40-split folding second row, and (when equipped) a 50/50-split folding third row. The LX Inspiration gets heated and ventilated second-row seats. Other features across the lineup include a Mark Levinson audio system and four-zone climate control. As expected with a vehicle in the near six-figure range, there are few options. Mostly, buyers can choose to add a color head-up display and wireless device charging from a handful of upgrades. A Luxury Package can be added to the base LX, while a Sport Package is available with third-row-equipped versions.

An all-new LX600 has been announced by Lexus for release later in 2022.

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