2020 Lexus RX Series vs. 2020 Tesla Model Y

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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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 Model Y doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The RX Series offers an optional Panoramic View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Model Y only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

To help make backing safer, the RX Series’ optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Model Y doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The RX Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Model Y doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The RX Series has standard Safety Connect®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Model Y doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the RX Series and the Model Y have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger 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 and blind spot warning systems.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian 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 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Model Y has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The RX Series’ corrosion warranty is 2 years and unlimited miles longer than the Model Y’s (6/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

There are over 74 percent more Lexus dealers than there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the RX Series’ warranty.

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the RX Series’ reliability 48 points higher than the Model Y.

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

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Tesla vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Tesla is ranked 23rd.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The RX 450h’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel is 533.2 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Model Y’s range is only 330 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 8 hours and 30 minutes for only a 45% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the RX Series’ standard brake rotors are larger than those on the Model Y:

RX Series

Model Y

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.3 inches

13.2 inches

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The RX Series has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model Y doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

Tires and Wheels

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The RX Series has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Model Y; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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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 Model Y’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For greater off-road capability the RX Series has a 1.6 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Model Y (8.2 vs. 6.6 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 2.3 inches more front legroom, 2.8 inches more front hip room, 1.4 inches more front shoulder room, 5.5 inches more rear hip room and 3.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Model Y.

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 Model Y doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the RX Series’ available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Model Y doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The RX Series offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity. The Model Y has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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A maintenance reminder system is standard on the RX Series to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Tesla doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Model Y.

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 Model Y doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the RX Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Model Y can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the RX Series has a standard rear wiper. The Model Y doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

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 Model Y doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the RX Series offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Model Y doesn’t offer cornering lights. The RX Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The RX Series’ standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Model Y doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the RX Series has standard extendable sun visors. The Model Y doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the RX Series to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Model Y doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

The RX Series’ power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Model Y’s power mirror controls are embedded in the infotainment system, seriously distracting drivers who have to adjust them while driving.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the RX Series keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Model Y doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the RX Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Model Y doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Model Y 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 Model Y doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/08/09

Consumer Reports® chose the Lexus RX Series as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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