For families considering a crossover SUV, the Lexus RX 350 and the Toyota Highlander are two very popular choices. While these two vehicles are very similar in construction, they differ on some pivotal points. Some people look at the Lexus and just see a higher price tag—but it’s what you get with that higher price tag that makes all the difference, even with a used RX 350.
The Lexus RX 350 has been a popular choice for single drivers as well as families alike. The Highlander offers a little more seating if you have a family bigger than five or if you’re looking for more storage space. However, the Lexus RX 350 has a bit more to offer when it comes to technology, the interior and exterior, and its luxury feel.
So if you’re not looking to have a large crossover and rather a more modern one, check out these reasons as to why the Lexus RX 350 trumps the Toyota Highlander.
Although the Toyota Highlander got a redesign for 2014, the Lexus still has a sleeker exterior. The Highlander offers third-row seating, so the design needs to compensate for the headroom and legroom needed in this area. The Lexus’ interior hasn’t changed too much over the years, but its classic design is recognizable anywhere. From its roof to its curved sides, the Lexus RX 350 has a much more modern and sleek look than the Highlander.
The Highlander appears somewhat boxy and has harsh angles compared to the Lexus. Its new design provides an updated look but not quite the same amount of sophistication and eye-pleasing value as the Lexus. The Lexus’ smooth exterior also reflects the modernity of its interior. The Highlander’s exterior reflects functionality and incorporates the extra seating space into the design, but if buyers don’t need this space, it ends up just being wasteful and the new design doesn’t do much for the exterior.
The Lexus RX 350 is able to trump the Highlander with its exterior design, which, although unchanged, is still bringing aesthetic value to the world of crossovers. When you want a smooth design that encases the modern interior of luxury, you want a Lexus.
The Toyota Highlander’s interior was designed to be functional but provides little in the way of modernity. Its Mark Levinson sound system lets you know that you’re in a luxury car in addition with the option of getting up to 15 speakers. The Highlander only offers six speakers despite the fact that its interior is larger than the RX’s on account of the extra seating. This means that the RX 350 has more than twice the amount of speakers as the Highlander. When you’ll be seating up to eight people in the Highlander, wouldn’t you need those extra speakers to hear?
The design of the interior of the Lexus RX 350 also provides more in the way of luxury and makes you feel like you’re driving the best. This is because the Lexus features a leather and wood steering wheel, a wood console, leather seats, a leather shift knob, and DVD audio. While some of these things come optional on the Highlander, it’s still missing that luxury feel that you can only get with a Lexus. In addition, the Highlander doesn’t provide the DVD audio on any of its models.
The modern interior of the Lexus includes bucket seats to give you a feel that you’re in a sports car rather than an SUV when inside the Lexus. The Highlander’s seats don’t provide this, and some of them aren’t even power operated. With your heated steering wheel, touchscreen, and wood and leather, you’ll feel great driving the Lexus.
The Lexus RX 350 has the upper hand when it comes to technology as well compared to the Toyota Highlander. The Lexus offers dual-zone automatic temperature control as well as Siri Eyes-Free System, which appeals to iPhone users that want to be in sync with their phone safely while in the car. The temperature control as well as the added technology capabilities make the Lexus the choice for people who want to travel in comfort and safety.
The touchscreen lets drivers access everything they need while on-the-go. The integrated navigation system as well as the emergency communication system are included whereas the Highlander only offers the integrated navigation system and doesn’t have the emergency communication system available at all. The Highlander also just started offering an automatic braking system, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beam control—things that have been available on the Lexus for a little while now.
While the Highlander has stepped up its game to compete with the RX, the Highlander is still missing a reverse sensing system, whereas the Lexus has a reverse sensing system in the front and rear to ensure safety when backing up or moving forward from parking. The Lexus RX 350 offers ventilated seats in the front while the Highlander only offers the heated. The RX just has more options when it comes to crossovers, especially when it comes to the Toyota Highlander. If you’re looking for a luxury feel with more technology and a sleeker exterior, the Lexus is the only crossover for you.
While both vehicles have a 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque, the Lexus gets slightly better gas mileage than the Highlander—this could be due to the fact that the Highlander is carrying an extra row of seating when the Lexus is not. With the bulky-looking exterior of the Highlander, you’ll likely prefer the smoother design of the Lexus in addition to the better fuel mileage.
The RX 350 comes with a power liftgate standard while this isn’t even an option on some of the Highlander models. When you’re spending that much money on a crossover, you should at least have the option of a power liftgate for when your hands or full or just to help prevent injury. The RX has a power moonroof while the Highlander only offers this on one model. The Highlander doesn’t offer distance pacing cruise control at all while this feature is available on at least one model of the Lexus.
The Highlander doesn’t offer a power passenger seat at all while this feature comes standard on the Lexus. The Highlander doesn’t even offer a power driver seat on two of their four models. With so much lacking in a crossover SUV, why settle when you’re looking for the best? The Lexus RX 350 has more features to offer buyers than the Highlander along with more technology and better fuel mileage with a luxury interior that can’t be beat.
From its technology to its sleek design to the luxury interior, the Lexus RX 350 trumps the Toyota Highlander. For buyers who aren’t as worried about space and more concerned with luxury and different technology features, the Lexus is a smart choice. While the Highlander offers third-row seating in addition to an updated design, it can’t compete with the feel and look of a Lexus on the road. Consider a Lexus RX 350 when you’re looking for your next crossover.