2022 Lexus RX vs. 2022 Toyota Highlander Comparison

Jeff Youngs | Apr 07, 2022

On the surface, the Lexus RX and Toyota Highlander might not seem like direct competitors. After all, one sports a luxury badge while the other hails from a high-volume mainstream car brand. One comes with standard seating for five; the other can seat up to eight passengers. Also, their respective base prices are separated by more than $11,000.

Dig a little deeper, however, and the similarities between the two become more apparent. First and foremost, they share Toyota DNA, as both are manufactured by Toyota Motor Corp. (they're built on different platforms). Additionally, the RX and Highlander offer V6 or gas-electric hybrid powertrains, have available three-row seating, enjoy strong resale values, and share a reputation for Toyota reliability.

Still not convinced these two SUVs are competitors? Well, the Internet has spoken, and a surprising number of consumers each month research the differences between the Lexus RX and the Toyota Highlander. So, as a public service, we'll examine the key differences between these two midsize crossover SUVs to help you decide which one to buy. Since the Highlander comes standard with a third row of seats, we'll focus on the 3-row Lexus RX L for apples-to-apples comparisons.

Price and Value

2022 Lexus RX 450h White Front Quarter View

2022 Lexus RX 450h

The 2022 Lexus RX L is a midsize luxury SUV with standard seating for seven across three rows. Optional second-row captain's chairs reduce seating capacity to six. Although the RX L has three rows of seats, third-row legroom is exceptionally tight. For this reason, the RX L isn't a great choice for large families. The Lexus GX or LX are better choices if maximum seating is a priority. If, however, you'll only occasionally need six or seven seats, the RX L's extra cargo space with the third-row seat folded comes in quite handy.

The 2022 Lexus RX L is available in four trim levels: base RX 350L, RX 450hL, RX 350L Black Line Special Edition, and RX 450hL Black Line Special Edition. Consumers will find pricing ranges from $49,475 to $57,115, not including the $1,075 destination charge.

The RX 350L has a V6 engine and standard front-wheel drive (FWD); all-wheel drive (AWD) is a $1,400 option. The RX 450hL is a hybrid in which AWD comes standard.

Unlike the regular-wheelbase versions, the longer Lexus RX 350L and RX 450hL are not available in F Sport specification, nor are they available with the RX’s optional Handling package. Unlike competitors Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, Lexus does not offer a proper sporty version of its 3-row SUV.

The Lexus RX 350L has a suite of connected services, including remote engine start, keyless entry, automatic collision notification, rapid access to emergency services and roadside assistance, and concierge services. A Wi-Fi hotspot also comes standard on the 2022 RX L.

New RX L owners get two free scheduled maintenance visits during the first year of ownership. Although the RX does not rank highest in its segment, Lexus ranks highest among premium brands in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. ALG Residual Value Awards.

The 2022 Toyota Highlander comes in seven trim levels: L, LE, XLE, XSE, Bronze Edition, Limited, and Platinum. For this comparison, we'll focus on the Highlander's top two trims—Limited and Platinum. Both are available with FWD or AWD and regular gas and gas-electric hybrid powertrains.

Pricing on the 2022 Highlander's top two trims ranges from $44,560 (Limited) to $49,010 (Hybrid Platinum), not including the $1,215 destination charge. Like the Lexus RX 350L, the Highlander midsize crossover SUV comes standard with three rows of seating. The 2022 Highlander Limited and Platinum have second-row captain's chairs; the maximum seating capacity is seven.

The Toyota Highlander Limited and Platinum come with a V6 engine or a gas-electric hybrid powertrain. The hybrid combines a 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors. Front-wheel drive is standard; AWD is available for $1,950. Unlike the deluxe 4WD system available in the Toyota 4Runner, the Highlander's light-duty AWD system isn't designed for serious off-road duty. Still, it will help improve traction on wet or slippery roads.

Though not as extensive as the RX L, Toyota does offer connected services on the Highlander Limited and Platinum. Safety Connect, Destination Assist, and Wi-Fi are standard, as is 12 months of complimentary Remote Connect.

Highlander owners get complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first 2 years or 25,000 miles.

Advantage: Toyota Highlander

Reliability and Quality

2022 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD Moon Dust Front Quarter View Action

2022 Toyota Highlander Platinum

The Lexus RX (including the extended-length RX L) ranks highest among Midsize Premium SUVs in both the J.D. Power 2022 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS). The 2022 Lexus RX L comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 10 years or 150,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 4 years and unlimited miles

The Toyota Highlander does not rank among the top three Upper Midsize SUVs in the 2022 VDS. It ranks third among Upper Midsize SUVs in the 2021 IQS. The 2022 Toyota Highlander comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 10 years or 150,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 2 years and unlimited miles

Advantage: Lexus RX L

Performance and Efficiency

2022 Lexus RX 350 Red Leather Interior Front Seats

2022 Lexus RX 350

Buyers considering the 2022 Lexus RX L have two powertrain choices—one gas and one hybrid. The Lexus RX 350L has a 3.5-liter V6 gas engine making 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

On the hybrid RX 450hL, Lexus pairs the 3.5-liter V6 with two electric-drive motors—one for the front wheels and the other for the rear. A third electric motor functions as a generator and starter and manages the vehicle's standard electric continuously variable transmission (eCVT) gear ratios. The total system horsepower is 308.

The Lexus RX L's maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds when properly equipped. Ground clearance measures 8.1 inches on the RX 350L and 7.9 inches on the heavier RX 450hL, so exercise caution when driving off-road. For serious off-roading, the Lexus LX is a better choice.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2022 Lexus RX 350L gets 22 mpg in combined city and highway driving with FWD and 21 mpg with AWD. The 2022 Lexus RX 450hL with standard AWD rates 29 mpg combined.

Like the RX L, the 2022 Toyota Highlander also has two available powertrains—one gas and one hybrid. The base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 295 hp and 263 pound-feet of torque. Toyota pairs it with an 8-speed automatic transmission. While the V6 engine delivers plenty of power, some drivers may perceive a slight delay during transmission upshifts, but most drivers will get used to it.

When properly equipped, the V6 Toyota Highlander has a 5,000-pound tow rating.

Toyota equips the AWD system on the Limited and Platinum trims with selectable terrain modes, hill-descent control, and torque-vectoring technology, which redistributes engine torque between the rear wheels, enhancing grip.

If you're seeking a fuel-efficient 3-row midsize SUV, the 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid might be up your alley. The hybrid version of the Highlander combines a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with a front electric-drive motor that gets its power from a 1.9-kilowatt-hour battery pack. The total system power is 243 hp. Highlander Hybrids equipped with AWD have an additional electric motor that drives the rear wheels rather than the gas engine providing torque. The total power output is the same at 243 hp.

Like the RX L, rather than using a traditional transmission, the Highlander Hybrid employs an eCVT. The specialized electric motor (different from the drive motors) blends the gas and electric power sources.

While the Highlander Hybrid provides peppy acceleration, the 4-cylinder engine is a bit noisy. For those planning to tow, be advised that a properly equipped 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is rated to tow 3,500 lbs.

The EPA says the gas-powered Toyota Highlander gets 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving with FWD or AWD. The Highlander Hybrid, on the other hand, gets significantly better mileage. It rates 36 mpg in combined driving with FWD and 35 mpg with AWD.

Ground clearance on the 2022 Highlander is 8 inches, so extreme off-roading is not recommended. Save that for the 4Runner and its 9.6 inches of ground clearance.

Advantage: Toyota Highlander

Safety and Driving Assistance

2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum Interior Dashboard

2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

All versions of the 2022 Lexus RX L come with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, the luxury automaker's advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) suite. The package includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), forward-collision warning (FCW) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot warning (BSW), rear cross-traffic warning, lane-departure warning (LDW), lane-keeping assistance (LKA), automatic high-beam headlights, and traffic-sign recognition. Hybrid-powered RX L's also come with Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, which can predict and help prevent skids by applying the brakes at an individual wheel, modulating torque, and providing steering torque assistance.

With the standard adaptive cruise control (ACC) activated, stop-and-go capability and lane-centering assistance (Lexus calls it Lane Tracing Assist) combine to give the RX L Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability. This arrangement is commonly known as traffic jam assist (TJA).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2022 Lexus RX has a 4-star (out of a possible 5 stars) overall safety rating, including 4 stars for frontal-impact protection and 5 stars for side-impact crash safety. Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2022 Lexus RX a Top Safety Pick. The SUV received top "Good" scores in all the Institute's crashworthiness measures, but the RX equipped with adaptive front headlights received a "Poor" rating due to excessive glare associated with the low beams.

The 2022 Toyota Highlander Limited and Platinum come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+) ADAS package, which consists of AEB, FCW with pedestrian and cyclist detection, LDW, LKA, automatic high beams, lane-centering assistance (Toyota calls it Lane Tracing Assist), traffic-sign recognition, ACC, BSW, and rear cross-traffic warning. Other TSS 2.5+ features include evasive steering assistance (ESA), which actively assists with the steering to help you avoid a collision.

In addition to TSS 2.5+, the 2022 Toyota Highlander also has TJA, which works in concert with ACC with stop-and-go capability, lane-centering, and traffic-sign recognition to provide Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance. Front and rear low-speed automatic braking and a rear-seat reminder system are also part of the comprehensive safety package on the top trims of the Highlander.

The Toyota Highlander received a 5-star overall safety rating in NHTSA crash testing. The SUV did, however, earn 4 stars for frontal-impact crash protection. The IIHS designated the 2022 Highlander as a Top Safety Pick+, the Institute's highest safety rating.

Advantage: Toyota Highlander

Infotainment and Technology

2022 Lexus RX 350 Rear Quarter View Aerial

2022 Lexus RX 350

Every 2022 Lexus RX L comes with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, including wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, Amazon Alexa compatibility, Bluetooth, and voice recognition. Also standard is a 9-speaker Lexus premium audio system, HD Radio, a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, and three free months (or 4 GB, whichever comes first) of Wi-Fi service via the SUV's built-in hotspot. For those who prefer to use the console-mounted Remote Touchpad controller, it's still there.

A 12.3-inch touchscreen is optional, as are factory navigation, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and a wireless charging pad. Six USB ports are standard in the RX L—four in the front and two in the back.

The 2022 Toyota Highlander Limited comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, while a 12.3-inch wide-screen display is standard on the Platinum (optional on Limited). Both trims include factory navigation (with a 3-year trial), a premium JBL audio system with 11 speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth for hands-free phone capability and music streaming, five USB ports (one USB-A for media, four USB-C for charging), and a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.

In addition to its standard infotainment options, the Highlander Limited and Platinum come with a wireless charging pad and a 120-volt outlet located on the bottom rear of the center console. Hybrid versions come with a second 120-volt outlet in the cargo area, allowing up to 1,500 watts of shared output.

Advantage: Neither

Both SUVs have a standard 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, upgradeable to 12.3 inches. The RX L's audio systems are a bit better, but the Highlander offers more device charging options.

Comfort and Utility

2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum Ruby Flare Pearl Rear Quarter View

2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Despite its age (last redesigned for the 2016 model year), the 2022 Lexus RX L still offers a nicely crafted, inviting, premium cabin, even if the design and controls look a bit dated. Speaking of controls, the RX L has plenty of buttons and dials for adjusting climate and audio settings, something traditionalists will appreciate. Lexus offers numerous interior treatments from which to choose, all exuding understated quality.

The RX L's first- and second-row seats provide adequate space and a high level of comfort, even on long trips. Second-row passengers in the RX L sit up higher than expected, providing a good view for passengers but less rear visibility for the driver. The third-row seat in the RX L is for emergency use only and is both difficult to access and tight on space. Both the RX 350L and RX 450hL have tri-zone automatic climate control.

According to SAE standards, the RX L offers a maximum cargo volume of 58.5 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded.

The interior of the 2022 Toyota Highlander Limited and Platinum, while nicer than what you'll find on the lower trim levels, doesn't quite qualify as premium. Materials aren't especially attractive or memorable, and the storage areas aren't as functional as they could be in a family vehicle. Controls and switchgear in the Toyota are where you'd expect to find them. However, the dashboard's design makes the SUV's interior look unfinished.

Access to the first and second rows in the Highlander is commendable, but like the RX L, accessing the third row is challenging. And, like the RX L, the Highlander's third row offers little in the way of legroom and should only be used occasionally by riders of more diminutive stature.

Triple-zone automatic climate control is standard in the Highlander, and second-row window sunshades—standard on Limited and Platinum—help block out the sun.

All 2022 Toyota Highlanders, including hybrids, provide 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. Fold the third-row seat, and you'll have 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space at your disposal. Fold both second and third rows of seats, and maximum cargo capacity increases to 84.3 cubic feet. Highlander Limited and Platinum have a power liftgate with hands-free convenience.

Advantage: Neither

The RX L has a nicer cabin, but the Highlander offers more passenger and cargo space.

Learn More About the Lexus RX and Toyota Highlander

If you'd like to learn more about these midsize SUVs, be sure to read our expert reviews of the 2022 Lexus RX and 2022 Toyota Highlander. To find out how people like you rate models in this segment, check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on April 6, 2022, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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