Are Lexus SUVs More Dependable Than Toyota SUVs?

Toyota’s reputation for reliability is legendary. It’s been built up by years of vehicles that continue to run long after their competitors have sputtered to that great junkyard in the sky. But how do Toyota SUVs compare to Lexus SUVs? Does a luxury badge really mean that Lexus beats Toyota?

Side-by-side photos of the Toyota and Lexus logos
Toyota and Lexus logos | Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

For those who don’t keep up with what’s happening in the auto world: Toyota is the parent company of Lexus. This happened back in 1989 when Toyota realized that some loyal customers were skipping buying new Toyota models in favor of luxury vehicles. 

U.S. News reports that it all began as a sort of experiment to see if Lexus would actually take off. As it turns out, Toyota had a solid enough reputation that consumers were happy to upgrade to the luxury brand.

It helped that Toyota put as much effort into producing Lexus vehicles as it did its own. Other automakers have fallen into the trap of focusing on only one segment while neglecting the other. Toyota didn’t do that, and now it has two powerful brands. But which makes better SUVs?

Small SUVs: Toyota RAV4 vs. Lexus NX

The Toyota RAV4 and the Lexus NX go head-to-head in this arena. U.S. News gave the RAV4 the award on this one. Though the Lexus NX is undeniably a luxury vehicle, it has less cargo room than some competitors. Considering most people buy an SUV for the room, that can be a bigger deal-breaker than one might think at first.

On the other hand, the RAV4 still has plenty of upscale features. Its fuel economy is tough to beat, and the ride is comfortable. It may not bear the luxury badge, but it feels luxurious.

Midsize SUVs: Highlander vs. RX 350

The Lexus RX 350 and the Toyota Highlander compete in the midsize SUV segment. In this instance, Lexus comes out on top.

Though the Highlander isn’t a bad SUV, it tends to be overshadowed by other SUVs. U.S. News praised the Highlander for its comfort, reliability, and extra cargo space that beat the RX 350. What the site wasn’t impressed with was the inferior interior quality, handling, and performance. There’s nothing severely lacking, but the Highlander can’t quite compete with rivals.

On the other hand, the Lexus RX 350 stands out in the luxury division. It has a powerful engine, great tech, and comfortable features that helped it bring home the win.

Large SUVs: Land Cruiser vs. LX

In this category, the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Lexus LX compete. This was a tough call for U.S. News because both vehicles have so much in common. Each can seat up to eight passengers comfortably. Both SUVs handle going off-road admirably, and the MSRPs aren’t all that different, even though the LX is a luxury vehicle.

Despite this, there was no tie. The Land Cruiser won, thanks to tech features that are more fluid and intuitive than those in the LX. It also helped that the cargo area is roomier.

So, which is the better brand, Toyota or Lexus?

Surprisingly, Toyota won two out of three when it came to the superior SUV. But which brand prevails overall when considering the various vehicle segments, pricing, fuel economy, performance, and interior? 

The results were actually a bit of a surprise. It was a tie. Both Lexus and Toyota scored the same number of wins, so it appears that trying to define which is the better brand is not that simple. This may make it hard to decide which brand to buy, so you’ll have to compare each vehicle and decide for yourself.  

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