Toyota Highlander vs. Lexus RX 350

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - March 28, 2018

With so many automakers now having luxury arms, like Toyota’s Lexus brand, comparing the parent company’s vehicles to its luxury arm’s vehicles can often blur the lines a bit. They not only share many components, like the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX 350 do, but there is often a huge price discrepancy between them that can lead to buyers legitimately considering both the non-luxury and the luxury model.

When comparing the Toyota Highlander and its RX 350 cousin, you have to look at the entire picture. Once it all comes into focus, the better vehicle may surprise you.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Highlander & RX 350 »

What the Highlander Gets Right

The Highlander kicks things off with a starting price of $32,025, which is significantly lower than the RX 350’s $44,265 starting price (destination fees included). Even the Highlander Hybrid starts lower at $37,665 (destination fees included). Plus, the Highlander’s more traditional styling will appeal to those who find the RX 350 a little over the top. Inside, the Highlander is surprisingly comfortable, hauls up to eight people, and has 0.8 inches of extra second-row leg room when compared to the RX 350.

Hauling cargo is definitely more up the Highlander’s alley, as it can tote up to 42.3 cubic feet of cargo with the third row folded and up to 83.7 cubes with both sets of rear seats folded. The RX 350 tops out at just 56.3 cubes with the rear seats folded.

The available hybrid model checks in at 30 miles per gallon city, 28 highway, and 29 combined, giving it a huge advantage over the RX 350.

What the Lexus RX 350 Gets Right

The Lexus RX 350 rolls in with super-modern styling that will instantly attract buyers. Its long list of standard features, which includes leatherette seating, power windows and locks, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, power front seats, and an eight-inch touchscreen, also helps buyers feel a bit better about the extra cash they're spending.

The RX 350 is a better-performing crossover with its F Sport package stiffening things up a bit. Also, its smaller footprint allows it to make better use of the 295-horsepower V6 that the Highlander and RX 350 share. When compared to the base Highlander’s 2.5-liter engine, though, this V6 feels far more refined and delivers better pulling power.

Need Luxury? Go With the Lexus

The Lexus RX 350 is an impressive luxury crossover, but it's very expensive and offers limited cargo room compared to the Highlander, making it tough to recommend to families.

Verdict: Toyota Highlander

While the RX 350 is a solid vehicle, we prefer the Highlander because its lower starting price affords buyers the option of loading it up and still saving when compared to the base Lexus RX 350. Add to that its massive cargo area and eight-passenger capacity, and its superiority is clear.

Take a closer look at the Toyota Highlander »

Take a closer look at the Lexus RX 350 »


Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website