2020 Lexus RX Series vs. 2019 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus RX Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Toyota Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The RX Series has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the RX Series and the Rav4 Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The Lexus RX Series weighs 422 to 1030 pounds more than the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RX Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Rav4 Hybrid was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

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The RX Series comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Rav4 Hybrid’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the RX Series 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Rav4 Hybrid. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Rav4 Hybrid ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The RX Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Rav4 Hybrid’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the RX Series first among midsize premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Rav4 Hybrid isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked second.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Toyota vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Toyota is ranked second.

Engine

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The RX 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 76 more horsepower (295 vs. 219) than the Rav4 Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The RX 450h’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 89 more horsepower (308 vs. 219) than the Rav4 Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

As tested in Motor Trend the RX 350 3.5 DOHC V6 is faster than the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid:

RX Series

Rav4 Hybrid

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

7.5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.7 MPH

90.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The RX Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 2.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rav4 Hybrid (17.2 vs. 14.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The RX Series’ standard fuel tank has 4.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Rav4 Hybrid (19.2 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the RX Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Rav4 Hybrid:

RX Series

Rav4 Hybrid

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

13.3 inches

11.1 inches

The RX Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Rav4 Hybrid are solid, not vented.

The RX Series stops much shorter than the Rav4 Hybrid:

RX Series

Rav4 Hybrid

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

143 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the RX Series has larger tires than the Rav4 Hybrid (235/65R18 vs. 225/65R17).

The RX Series’ optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Rav4 Hybrid XSE/Limited’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RX Series has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Rav4 Hybrid LE/XLE. The RX Series’ optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Rav4 Hybrid XSE/Limited.

Suspension and Handling

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The RX Series has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Rav4 Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The RX Series offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Rav4 Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The RX Series has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the RX Series’ wheelbase is 3.9 inches longer than on the Rav4 Hybrid (109.8 inches vs. 105.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RX Series is 1.4 inches wider in the front and .3 inches wider in the rear than on the Rav4 Hybrid.

The RX 350 handles at .79 G’s, while the Rav4 Hybrid XSE pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The RX 350 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Rav4 Hybrid XSE (27.1 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the RX Series has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Rav4 Hybrid (8.2 vs. 8.1 inches), allowing the RX Series to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space

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The RX Series has 3.1 inches more front legroom, 2.3 inches more front hip room, .2 inches more rear legroom, 8.4 inches more rear hip room and 1.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Rav4 Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

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Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the RX Series’ optional rear seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the RX Series. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

The RX Series’ liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The Rav4 Hybrid’s swing out door blocks loading from the driver’s side.

Towing

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Maximum trailer towing in the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid is limited to 1750 pounds. The RX Series offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Toyota. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 41% lower rating, Toyota is ranked 14th.

Ergonomics

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The RX Series offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The RX Series’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Rav4 Hybrid LE’s standard fixed intermittent wipers only have one fixed delay setting, so the driver will have to manually switch them between slow and intermittent.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The RX Series’ available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Rav4 Hybrid’s headlights are rated “Marginal.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The RX Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The RX Series has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Rav4 Hybrid has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the XLE/XSE/Limited.

The RX Series’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Toyota charges extra for heated mirrors on the Rav4 Hybrid.

When the RX Series is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Rav4 Hybrid’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The RX Series offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Rav4 Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The RX Series’ available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Rav4 Hybrid’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

The RX Series offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

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The RX Series is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Rav4 Hybrid doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/16

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus RX Series and the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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