Why Luxury Featuring the 2017 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

Toyota Motor Corporation has mastered the art of offering the masses the bare minimum of exactly what they want to purchase and then finding a way to offer an “all that and more” in their amped-up, luxurious Lexus lineups. In this installment of our “Why Luxury” series, we compare two popular members of the mid-size SUV segment, the 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and the 2017 Lexus RX F Sport. 

If you did not know already, Lexus is a child brand of the Toyota Motor Corporation and it’s certainly no wonder. One of the most reliable and highly rated luxury brands in the market shares commonalities with arguably the best all-rounder economy brand in build, reliability, safety, and maintenance. In 2017, Lexus and Toyota individually earned top marks with KBB in resale value; Toyota as a brand, and the 2017 Lexus GS by make. Simply put, Toyota Motor Corporation has mastered the art of offering the masses the bare minimum of exactly what they want to purchase and then finding a way to offer an “all that and more” in their amped-up Lexus lineups.

A client’s roadmap to upgrading their daily driver (say a Toyota) to a statement luxury auto (a Lexus) has never been so straightforward and thus begs the question “why should I upgrade?” In today’s “Why Luxury” we will be comparing stats of two dominating bodies in the mid-size SUV segment the top of the line 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the 2017 Lexus RX F to provide some insight into why the luxury option is a solid investment.

A few notes on mid-size SUVs:

Since 2015, the midsize SUV segment continues to attract buyers of all ages who desire to indulge in a more space and cargo capacity, without entering the realms of “too much.” The midsize SUV is a medium sized SUV, providing less cargo space and seating than a full-size SUV similar to a Range Rover. Consistently low gas prices (think below $3.00 a gallon on average) have also added enticement for prospective buyers to choose the larger vehicle.

It’s a consistently dominating body style in both affordable and luxury segments since 2016, with global sales projected to increase by 5.65% (or over 23 million units) in 2020 per a 2016 Market Trend Analysis. In the month of October 2017, the RX saw a 4% gain in U.S. Sales– helping make October the sixth straight “best-ever month” for Lexus utility vehicles, according to Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Jeff Bracken.

Baseline Specs:

The 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum SUV is the top of the line, fully-loaded model with an MSRP of $49,534 and an average price paid of around $46,000 according to Edmunds.  Admittedly, that high price tag for a Toyota brand car raises some eyebrows, but it does have some advantages surrounding one specific detail: space.

All models have an extra third row (total seven seats available), a longer roof, and roughly 140 more cubic feet of space than its in-house competitor which comes standard.  The interior of this supped up Highlander offers Toyota’s finest leather, woods, and aluminum to make the time spent inside the vehicle a bit more aesthetically pleasing than other variances of the SUV.

The 2017Lexus RX 350 F Sport comes in at an MSRP of around $54,423, with the average price paid of $50,403- less than $1,000 more than the MSRP of the Highlander.  A third row is a non-existent option in this model and it dotes a bit less interior room at 108 cubic feet. This difference, though, is nominal if you aren’t toting teams of children or mounds of grocery sacks on a regular basis.

If that extra cargo room and the extra seats are a deal breaker, the 2018 Lexus RXL, which includes a third row of seats, has been confirmed to debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

Under the hood, you’ll see that the Highlander and Lexus RX F share similar specs including a 3.5 liter V6 engine similar fuel economy. The Highlander provides a combined fuel economy of about 28 mpg, but has a lower fuel capacity by a couple gallons. The RX shares an almost similar fuel economy of 22 mpg, but a larger tank capacity by two gallons.

The Luxury Difference:

Lexus provides clients with a better warranty than that of its Toyota counterpart- a four year, 50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year, 70,000 drivetrain warranty. Additionally, Lexus includes a 4-year/ unlimited mile, roadside assistance versus the Highlander’s 2 years of roadside assistance.

The RX F Sport sends 295 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque for a more powerful driving experience. The F-Sport series also provides clients with a revised suspension, cross-hatched spindle grille, and darker trim bits to add a touch more horsepower to this mid-size luxury SUV.  

The aesthetics of your Lexus can be more personalized, with 10 interior and 10 exterior colors available versus the Highlander Hybrid’s four and eight respectively.  When choosing to venture into the world of Lexus Luxury, you can certainly be confident that your vehicle will reflect your striking and unique style with meticulous detail that begins on the factory line; the Lexus final product takes longer to produce per task on the assembly line due to master precision, build quality, and higher-end interior choices that are difficult to match at the economy class segment.

Although you can purchase an ultra-reliable vehicle with some amenities, the dealership experience at Lexus aims to be that of a luxury hotel with first class client lounges complete with Wifi, group and individual workstations, a calm, quiet environment, and exceptional client service so that even the on-the-go professional can have their Lexus serviced with peace of mind.

The Verdict:

The 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus RX 350 F Series, are both fantastic options for anyone vying for the SUV market- as proved through their various high ranking achievements among other competitors. But, when both economy and luxury price tags hover in the realm of $45,000- $50,000, choosing Lexus style, comfort, performance, and dealership experience, all while retaining the value and fuel efficiency already offered promised by Toyota Motor Corporation, makes the most sense.

Check out our Intro to Luxury and Why Luxury: Featuring Mercedes-Benz for our other installments of this series.