It took a billion dollars to launch the first Lexus, the LS. And that was late 1980s money. Far more than just a Toyota with leather and wood, Lexus is synonymous with quality, elegance, and even perfection. Get your own piece of perfection next time you need a new ride, by shopping the best from Lexus.
Originally just a fancy version of the Camry in the ’90s, the ES evolved into its own luxury car early in the new millennium. The modern ES still shares some parts with the larger Toyota Avalon, but the mid-size Lexus benefits from the largest top trim Toyota. The front seats are best in class, with rear seats offering surprising comfort and headroom. Unlike competitors, Lexus badges still have relevance to engine size, so an ES350 on the trunk means a 3.5-liter V6, while ES300h delivers hybrid four cylinder power. Consumer Reports tested the hybrid and scored 42 MPG, impressive for a mid-size luxury car. But rather than its gas mileage, the ES is known for offering real luxury for a great price, with no hit to reliability. Forbes recently stated the ES is one of the most reliable vehicles you can buy in any class. If you’re looking for a quality luxury car at a great price, the ES is hard to beat.
The new guy on the compact SUV block, this crossover is a strong seller loaded with high value. The NX offers the usual Lexus reliability, plus a lively, sporty drive, and nicely finished interior. The stylish interior layout is considered the best in class, high praise considering the competition here like Audi Q5. It’s not the fastest in its class, but the engine choices are quiet and refined, and the sportiness doesn’t overcome the soft composed ride. The base NX300 offers front wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and can hit MPGs in the upper 20s from a 235 horsepower 2.0-liter four cylinder. The NX300 F Sport is the performance version, AWD only, with bolstered seats and sporty gauges. A hybrid is available too, as the NX300h. The fuel sipper is AWD only, and the EPA says it should save you about $700 a year in fuel costs. Rear seats are heavy on options, with a nice recline feature, and power fold down and lift. The 2018 model gained active safety features, including adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.
The mid-size that helped launch the luxury SUV revolution over 20 years ago, here’s a look at why it still matters. The RX is cushier and quieter than the NX, but also longer and taller, with more passenger and cargo space. While the NX seats four comfortably, the RX seats up to five, with a three-row version introduced in 2018 seating seven adults. There’s more power here too, from a standard 295 horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The RX450h hybrid can return 30 MPG, which is nice when gas prices are rising. German luxury mid-size SUVs tend to cost more for the same options, so the closest RX competitor in size and price is the ES. Still, you probably noticed that the RX ranks number one in mid-size luxury SUV sales, but falls to near last in magazine reviews. That’s mainly because reviewers criticize the ride and handling for lacking sportiness. If you’re not taking your luxury SUV to a racetrack, then the RX’s SUV capability with traditional luxury values might be the one for you.
The biggest Lexus sedan is a tech showcase, comfy as a down pillow, and also slightly gangster. Long and low in the classic luxury style, it’s also a cutting edge modern design with a world-class interior. You’ll most likely be shopping the fourth generation (2007 – 2017) or fifth gen (2018+) LS, so we’ll cover both. With the fourth gen, shop the 2010+ for improved styling, upgraded cabin, and night vision. Key differences in the newest model include active safety features, a 24-inch heads-up display in the windshield, and a twin turbo 3.5-liter V6 making a stout 415 horsepower replaces the previous V8. The 10-speed automatic is smooth and quick, you can’t even feel it shift most of the time. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available since 2007. Like most things Lexus, you can get a hybrid here too, and owners say it’s good for a real-world 40 MPG, an incredible number for a car of this size. The LS delivers the luxury of a Bentley, with more subtlety and reliability.