Hybrids & Electrics

Should I Buy a Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Lexus RX Hybrid?

Looking for a high-end SUV but are also interested in being eco-friendly? Here are two vehicles to compare: the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the 2020 Lexus RX Hybrid. These are both popular options that have many similarities to consider.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

Should I Buy a Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Lexus RX Hybrid?

There are also some significant differences worth noting. Breaking them down to four categories will help determine which vehicle is the best fit: safety, Reliability, Cost, and Overall drive experience.

Safety

Both the Toyota and the Lexus received 2020 Top Safety Pick from IIHS. And both the Highlander and RX Hybrid have class-leading safety standards like low-light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection technology, a built-in camera that helps provide road sign information. The Lexus received a 5-star rating from NHTSA, their highest rating, but the Toyota Highlander had not been rated at the time of publication. It is safe to say that each of these will keep you safe on the road. 

Reliability 

There is a bit of a divergence in this area. The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a basic 3 years/36000 mile warranty with five years/60000 mile Drivetrain and two-year/unlimited mile roadside assistance. The 2020 Lexus RX Hybrid has a better offering of 4 years/50000 miles basic warranty with six years/70000 mile Drivetrain and four-year/unlimited mile roadside assistance. Making the winner in this category is the Lexus RX Hybrid. 

A Lexus RX hybrid on display
A Lexus RX Hybrid | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Cost

When one thinks of Lexus luxury, the idea is always that there is a much higher price tag associated with this. However, the surprising part of this comparison is the cost. The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a starting MSRP at the basic trim level is $42,120, while the fully-loaded version is at $50,200 and an average price paid of $47,481. The 2020 Lexus RX Hybrid has a starting MSRP of $46,800 and an average price paid of $43,694. This makes these two vehicles nearly matched when both luxury trim levels are concerned. 

Overall Drive Experience 

The 2020 Highlander Hybrid has gotten a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for 2020 that replaced last year’s V6. Although this new 243 hp four-cylinder hybrid system produces approximately 60 fewer horsepower than the previous Highlander Hybrid, mixed-driving fuel economy increases by 7-8 mpg to 35 City/ 34 HWY. The Lexus RX 450h has a v6 engine with 308 horsepower with a fuel economy of 31 City/ 28 Hwy. This gives the power advantage to the Lexus but the fuel efficiency advantage to the Toyota. And when the recommendation for fuel is Premium in the Lexus with regular in the Toyota expect to pay much less on fuel for the life of the vehicle. 

US News rates the 2020 Lexus RX Hybrid #4 in Luxury Hybrid and Electric SUVs tied with the 2020 Jaguar I-Pace, and they say “The 2020 Lexus RX Hybrid finishes in the top half of our luxury hybrid and electric SUV rankings. Its comfortable interior and stable ride make it a great daily driver, though it isn’t quite as athletic as some rivals.”

US News rates the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid #3 in Hybrid and Electric SUVs tied with the 2020 Hyundai Kona EV. They say “The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid ranks in the middle of the hybrid and electric SUV class. It has a peppy yet efficient powertrain, a smooth ride, user-friendly features, and a great predicted reliability rating. Still, it’s let down by its cramped third-row seats and lackluster handling.”

Both vehicles rate very well, and both show the promise of quality, safety, reliability, and drive. However, the recommendation is to go with the Lexus RX Hybrid for the nominal difference in cost.