Did you know SUVs account for two of every three Lexus vehicles sold? Or that the Lexus RX is the best-selling luxury vehicle in the country? The Lexus SUV lineup is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s only getting stronger.

The compact Lexus NX received a variety of updates for 2018, the RX lineup adds an available third row and the range-topping LX is now available without a third row. We recently had the opportunity to explore the whole SUV lineup at a Lexus event in Phoenix, Arizona, where we crawled through all the models and spent most of our time behind the wheel of the updated NX and new 3-row RX L.

But let’s start this overview with a first look at the all-new Lexus SUV going on sale later this year as a 2019 model.


2019 Lexus UX
Starting Price: Low-$30,000 range
Segment: Subcompact luxury SUV
Seating Capacity: 5 passengers
Standard Engine: 168-hp 4-cylinder
On Sale: Late 2018

The 2019 Lexus UX is an all-new subcompact luxury SUV set to compete with the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, Infiniti QX30 and others. Pricing and fuel economy haven’t been announced but we do know buyers will have the choice of an all-new 4-cylinder engine good for 168 horsepower, or a hybrid setup delivering a combined 176 horsepower and superior fuel economy. Both engines will be matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and the hybrid version, at least, will offer all-wheel drive in place of the standard front-wheel drive.

We’ll learn more as we approach the car’s projected December 2018 arrival, but we look forward to seeing more of what many of us agree is now the best-looking Lexus SUV in the lineup.

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2018 Lexus NX
Starting Price: $35,985 | Price yours
Segment: Compact luxury SUV
Seating Capacity: 5 passengers
Standard Engine: 235-hp turbo 4-cylinder
Standard MPG: 22 city, 28 hwy

Last year, the Lexus NX outsold the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX and all the others in its class to claim the title of best-selling compact luxury SUV. But the automaker isn’t standing still, updating the NX for 2018 with a variety of enhancements inside and out.

Outward-facing changes include more aggressive front-end styling and a new nametag, with the NX 200t becoming the NX 300. Forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and auto high beams are now included as standard equipment as part of Lexus Safety System+. The standard 8-inch multimedia screen is upgradable to a 10.3-inch unit, and a larger, second-generation control pad makes for (slightly) easier infotainment operation.

The gas-electric Lexus NX 300h remains an attractive alternative for efficiency-focused shoppers, while the NX F Sport appeals to those in search of sportier looks and/or performance, even if the treatment doesn’t include more power.

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2018 Lexus RX
Starting Price: $43,270 | Price yours
Segment: 2-row midsize luxury SUV
Seating Capacity: 5 passengers
Standard Engine: 295-hp V6
Standard MPG: 20 city, 27 highway

The big news for the Lexus RX lineup is the addition of the 3-row Lexus RX L detailed below. Beyond that, the 5-passenger RX picks up where it left off last year: as the country’s most popular luxury vehicle. Here’s a snippet from our full review that captures many of the facets behind its continued success:

“The ride is smooth and the interior is quiet, isolating you from the harsh world outside its leather-lined interior. This is an SUV you can drive for hours with little fatigue. We’re not saying the Lexus can’t handle tight turns or twisting back roads, but if you’re seeking razor-sharp reflexes, a step up to the F Sport trim is in order. Equipped with Lexus’ selectable drive-mode system, the F Sport adds a Sport S+ setting that increases steering feedback and quickens throttle response. The RX’s V6 is both powerful and impressively smooth, matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission that should be the standard by which all automatics are judged.”

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2018 Lexus RX L
Starting Price: $47,670 | Price yours
Segment: 3-row midsize luxury SUV
Seating Capacity: 6/7 passengers
Standard Engine: 290-hp V6
Standard MPG: 19 city, 26 highway

The wait is over. The results are mixed. Lexus finally has an answer to 3-row favorites like the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60, but even though the third rows in these SUVs typically accommodate smaller, nimbler humans and only occasionally, the RX L’s exceptionally small third row will make it a tough sell for some shoppers. It’s also about 4 inches longer and 250 pounds heavier than the 5-passenger RX, but the impact to drivability is negligible.

Beyond that, the RX L is just as appealing as the wildly popular and famously comfortable RX. In addition to the raised perch and practicality of an SUV, you get all the reliability and resale value that comes along with the circle-L badge. You won’t have any problem finding a roomier third row in this segment, but good luck finding something with a better reputation.

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2018 Lexus GX
Starting Price: $52,155 | Price yours
Segment: 3-row midsize luxury SUV
Seating Capacity: 6/7 passengers
Engine: 301-hp V8
MPG: 15 city, 18 highway

The Lexus GX is a cowboy moonlighting as a lawyer. Based on the same body-on-frame architecture that underpins the famously capable Toyota 4Runner, the V8-powered GX remains something of a throwback to when SUVs were trucks. The accompanying off-road prowess and 6,500-pound towing ability are two of the reasons the aging GX still attracts a dedicated base of buyers. Here’s a sampling from our full review:

“Despite its aging architecture, the 2018 Lexus GX 460 is loaded with the latest technology, luxury and safety features, making it a highly desirable 7-passenger vehicle. And while its ride and handling pale when compared to newer SUVs such as the Audi Q7 and Acura MDX, the GX 460’s off-road and towing capabilities exceed all but the Land Rover Discovery. Factor in Lexus’ reputation for quality and high resale, and the GX 460’s appeal becomes obvious.”

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2018 Lexus LX
Starting Price: $85,380 | Price yours
Segment: 3-row full-size luxury SUV
Seating Capacity: 5/7 passengers
Engine: 383-hp V8
MPG: 13 city, 18 highway

Take a famous off-roading nameplate with a 67-year history, add a heavy helping of luxury upgrades and a fancier badge, and the Toyota Land Cruiser becomes the Lexus LX. A rare mix of top-shelf luxury and next-level capability, the LX is Japan’s answer to the Range Rover -- but with a much stronger reputation for reliability.

The LX carries on mostly unchanged for 2018, but with one notable exception: it’s now available without the third row. Buyers who don’t need the extra accommodations can get an extra six feet of cargo space, and the new configuration drops the SUV’s starting price by about $4,000 compared to last year.

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