Lexus RX is a car-based crossover.
Lexus GX is a truck-based SUV with off-road capabilities.
2019 Lexus RX L expands RX seating capacity to seven.
Lexus offers two midsize SUVs — the RX and GX. Despite their similar sizes, these are two very different vehicles. The RX is a car-based crossover, and has long held the title of the best-selling luxury SUV in the U.S. The GX is a body-on-frame, truck-like SUV with a solid rear axle, low range four-wheel drive and excellent off-road capability. Below, we’ll take a closer look at these two Lexus SUVs to help you determine which is better for you.
The Lexus RX was introduced back in 1999 and is now in its fourth generation, which went on sale for the 2016 model year. Until recently, the RX only offered room for five passengers, but with the introduction of the 2019 RX350 L, the RX now offers a 7-passenger option. There’s also an available hybrid model that offers increased efficiency. The RX starts at $43,570 for a front-wheel drive base model and reaches about $64,000 in the fully-loaded RX450h F Sport configuration.
The Lexus GX was introduced for the 2003 model year and is now in its second generation. The GX at its core is a high-end version of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado; a 4Runner-sized vehicle offered outside of the U.S. The Land Cruiser Prado product line has been offered in foreign markets since 1990, and is meant as a softer-duty version of the unstoppable full-size Land Cruiser. Still, the Land Cruiser Prado is a tough off-road ready vehicle, and just about all of this toughness translates to the GX. The Lexus GX460 comes standard with all-wheel drive and a variety of off-road features. 2019 models start at $52,155 and reach around $74,000 when fully-loaded.
The RX is Lexus’ best-selling vehicle with 117,709 units sold in 2017. The GX is a slower seller, but had one of its best sales years ever in 2017, when it sold 27,698 units.
The Lexus RX is available with two different powertrains. The RX350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 making 295 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. FWD or AWD is available. AWD RX350s earn 19 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. FWD models gain an extra mpg in all three driving conditions, while longer L models lose an mpg, along with 5 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque, oddly.
The RX450h pairs the 3.5-liter V6 with a hybrid system for a total output of 308 hp put to the ground through a 6-speed automatic. The RX450h comes standard with AWD and achieves 31 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined.
All variations of the RX offer a 3,500-lb towing capacity.
The GX460 is offered with one powertrain: a 4.6-liter V8 making 301 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The GX achieves rather abysmal fuel economy, earning only 15 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined. While the GX seems to be at a major disadvantage here to the RX, it does regain some ground thanks to a usable towing capacity of 6,500 pounds, good enough to tow a camper, a trailer or a small- to medium-sized boat with relative ease.
Both vehicles take just under seven seconds to go from 0-to-60 miles per hour.
The regular RX is 192.5 inches long, 74.6 inches wide and 67.7 inches tall, and offers 8.2 inches of ground clearance. The 2019 Lexus RX L adds 4.4 inches onto the overall length of the RX, but maintains the same wheelbase.
The GX is 192.1 inches long, 74.2 inches wide, 74.2 inches tall and offers 8.1 inches of ground clearance.
Inside, the standard-length RX offers front seat passengers 39.4 inches of headroom and 44.1 inches of legroom. Second-row passengers get 39.1 inches of headroom and 38.0 inches of legroom. Things are far more cramped in the new RX L. In order to fit the third row of seats, front-seat passengers are limited to 41.4 inches of legroom and the second row gets only 30.9 inches of legroom. The RX L’s third row is pretty tight, offering 34.8 inches of headroom and only 23.5 inches of legroom, making it suitable for little more than toting young kids around on short trips.
The GX is a little more spacious inside when comparing it to the RX L. Front seat GX passengers get 38.0 inches of headroom and 41.7 inches of legroom. In the second row, the GX offers 40.4 inches of headroom and 34.1 inches of legroom. The GX’s third row offers 35.2 inches of headroom and 29.3 inches of legroom, making it more usable than that of the new RX L.
The RX’s interior is very car like. A variety of seat colors are offered, including a new red leather option on F Sport models. The RX has an analog clock mounted between its center HVAC vents, which is supposedly a luxury touch, but in reality just feels like a waste of space. The RX’s steering wheel feels modern and robust. The center console is home to cup holders and controls to adjust driving dynamics, while a mouse like control pad for the infotainment system resides behind the gear shifter. The RX’s infotainment screen sits above the dashboard like a tablet.
If you ever owned a pickup and you liked it, you’ll find a lot to love about the interior of the GX. The GX’s controls are large and clunky, and the overall interior design features far more right angles than that of the RX. The center control stack is very upright, and the infotainment screen relies on touch capability and a few buttons around its perimeter, as opposed to the RX’s more sophisticated setup. 4WD controls reside to the right of the transmission selector. Overall, while more robust than that of the RX, the GX’s interior feels very old and very dated, and the controls and functionality are badly in need of an update.
The RX is available with a drive-mode select feature, F-Sport trim with sport suspension, a 360 degree camera, a power liftgate, heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a power-folding second row, rear-seat entertainment system and a memory driver’s seat, among other things.
The GX is a little simpler, with most of its unique features being of the off-road variety, which we’ll discuss below. Still, the GX offers an available rear seat entertainment system, power folding third row seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, a heated steering wheel and wide-angle front and side-view monitors.
The GX’s rear tailgate is a unique, barn-door style design. Rather than being hinged at the top, the GX’s rear hatch is hinged on the passenger side and opens from left to right. This might be seen as a drawback to some. The vehicle’s rear glass can be opened separately from the whole tailgate though, and it does so in a traditional, top-hinged manner.
The GX and the RX both offer an available Mark Levinson premium audio system, second-row captain’s chairs (on RX L models) and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Despite offering optional AWD, the RX is designed predominately for on-road driving, and therefore doesn’t offer off-road specific features.
The GX on the other hand offers a bevy of off-road features. Underneath its luxurious exterior, the GX is an off-road beast. It comes standard with AWD and a traditional low-range transfer case with a locking center differential. The GX also comes with Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, better known as KDSS, which automatically disconnects the vehicle’s sway bars when it senses that the vehicle is traversing uneven terrain, allowing for greater wheel articulation. Also offered on the GX is Crawl Control, which acts as off-road cruise control, hill-descent control and hill-start assist, as well as an available adjustable rear suspension that can raise or lower the rear of the vehicle by a few inches.
Although the RX’s infotainment setup is far more modern than that of the GX’s, both vehicles have major shortcomings when it comes to infotainment. The RX uses a 12.3-in widescreen display while the GX uses an 8.0-in screen. In the year 2018, neither of these high-dollar luxury vehicles offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, instead limiting buyers to Lexus’ lackluster Enform infotainment system, a lazy re-skin of Toyota’s Entune system. As mentioned before, the RX’s infotainment display is controlled by Lexus’ controversial "remote touch" mouse like controls. The GX’s more basic design relies on old-school touch controls, along with menu buttons scattered around its perimeter.
The Lexus RX earns good scores across the board in crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning a Top Safety Pick designation. The GX hasn’t been tested, as its considered a large SUV.
In terms of driver assistance safety features, the RX offers standard forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Optional are front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist and braking, and rear automated emergency braking.
Driver assistance features are all optional on the GX. Available is automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors.
The RX and the GX are for different buyers. The RX offers car like driving dynamics, ample creature comforts and reasonable fuel economy. Most buyers interested in this segment will be best served by the RX. The GX on the other hand is a rough and tumble old-school SUV. One of the last of its kind in a world moving toward car like SUVs with every passing model year. The GX is based on a dated design and offers atrocious fuel economy, but still has a number of charming attributes, including a respectable towing capacity, off-road features, smooth and strong V8 engine and status as a baby LX570. When it comes down to it, the RX will be the more appealing option for most buyers, but the GX is one of a kind.