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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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
Both the RX Series and the Highlander Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
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 Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander Hybrid ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.
The RX Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Highlander Hybrid’s (6 vs. 5 years).
J.D. Power and Associates rated the RX Series first among midsize premium SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Highlander 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 2019 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Toyota vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Toyota is ranked third.
The RX 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 52 more horsepower (295 vs. 243) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The RX 450h’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 65 more horsepower (308 vs. 243) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.
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 Highlander Hybrid are solid, not vented.
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 Highlander 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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
For greater off-road capability the RX Series has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander Hybrid (8.2 vs. 8 inches), allowing the RX Series to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the RX Series’ optional rear seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The RX Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander Hybrid uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
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.
The RX Series has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
The RX Series’ standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
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 Highlander 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 Highlander Hybrid’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer headlight washers.
The RX Series’ standard rear view mirror and optional side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
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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