Putting the 2024 Lexus TX to the True Family Test

The luxe Lexus TX impresses with practical 3rd-row roominess and cutting edge technology, which may make it seem that family life is far easier once you're inside this 3-row SUV.

The Lexus Tx
The Lexus TX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Four Adults, Two Kids in Car Seats and a Busy Week of Togetherness

You know someone loves you when they volunteer to ride in the 3rd row of your SUV. For an entire week. And they decline the offer to ride in the front passenger’s seat. Or maybe they just love the 3rd row of the car you’re driving.

That’s just what my stepdaughter did when she visited with her two kids, ages 5 and 7, and her husband for a week. Due to put the 2024 Lexus TX to a more in-depth test drive, it was the perfect time to give the space, the technology, and the family fitness a solid test.

We spent a week tooling around town, shopping, sightseeing and grocery-getting. We hit every playground we could find, the local nature center, and the best barbecue in Texas, which was a day trip. Here’s how the Lexus TX helped me with these tasks and how it handled our crew and our gear.

Related: The Lexus GX 550 Cradles You in Luxury On or Off-Road 

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Head-up display projects the functions on the steering wheel touchpad of the Lexus TX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Technology Makes All the Difference in the Lexus TX

When I test drive cars, I always try to dive deep into the technology; even with a full week, it’s usually tough to discover everything — these systems can be so thoughtful and feature-filled.

Our Lexus TX test model came with the full tech package— everything Lexus offers, including the touch-sensitive steering wheel controls and head-up display. So, I tried to discover everything I could that was helpful for a family driver. Here’s my list:

  • “Hey Lexus” voice-activated assistance: Our test model came with a navigation subscription, so we were able to ask for directions to anywhere we wanted to go easily, and the system quickly located the destination and uploaded it. The system also allowed all of us to easily ask to change things like the cabin temperature and the radio station.

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    The front camera activates at low speeds in the Lexus TX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

  • Automatic forward-facing cameras: A full-size SUV needs forward-facing cameras; it’s just a fact of life. And those cameras are most helpful as you pull into a parking spot or up to your garage door. What you don’t want to have to do is punch around the multimedia screen or look for a button as you approach the wall in a parking garage. The Lexus TX was pre-set to have the forward cameras come on at speeds below 5MPH. So, while it was maybe a bit much to have it pop on as we approached an intersection or stopped traffic on the highway, it was worth it to have it on in the parking deck and when pulling into my garage. If you change the setting (by clicking off the “A” on the camera function screen), it’ll still come on when the parking sensors sense you’re too close to something, such as the garage door.
  • Head-up display: This system is fantastic for keeping your eyes on the road. But add in turn-by-turn directions, and you never lose your way even when your front-seat passenger is busy with apps on the multimedia system. I’ve come to love HUD systems, and the Lexus one is really good; it shows your speed and navigation and displays road signs, radio stations, and driver assist systems. You can customize the display if all that is just TMI.
  • Steering Switch. The name of this one stumped me, but I found it under vehicle settings: Steering Switch is what Lexus calls the touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel. Swipe your finger around one side, and you’ll see your cruise control options pop up in the head-up display; swipe around on the other side, and you’ll see radio options pop up. And you can customize the settings how you’d like.
  • Rear seat controls: On the multimedia touchscreen, select “seats,” and  you can raise or lower the 3rd row, both seats or just one; this feature is making its way into more 3-row SUVs, and it’s fantastic
  • In addition to the forward-facing camera, the 360-degree surround view camera lets you give a quick spin around the car before departing, in a parking lot or anywhere a bit more information is helpful
  • There are 7 USB ports + wireless charge pad in the Lexus TX, so no one ever has a dead device
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: even though the “Hey Lexus” system is great, there are things it just can’t do, like text your daughter. Connect your Apple or Android phone once, and it connects to the system automatically every time. Also, if you’d rather rely on your phone’s maps instead of the Lexus subscription maps, this is a great way to get them (CarPlay and Android don’t support directions in the head-up display, however).
  • If you have butts in seats, you should consider a digital rearview camera: This is essentially a rearview video monitor; you can toggle between the video and reflective images. You still have a clear rear view when you have a full load of people or things.
  • If all that is too much, there is a quick access tab on the multimedia screen: Tap the six dots at the lower center of the screen, and you get the drive mode selector, heat and cooling, and parking sensor controls, among other things
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This quick access screen in the Lexus TX offers a few key controls. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Almost any tech or electronically controlled feature can be customized and turned on or off via the touch screen. And even the screen itself is customizable. The first thing I had to learn to do was turn off the screen beeps, which was easy enough.

I also turned off the “easy exit” feature, which moves the steering wheel up and the driver’s seat back when you turn off the engine. But with a child car seat behind mine and many passengers in the Lexus TX, that luxury inconvenienced everyone else.

Related: The Future of Driving: 10 Technologies that You’ll Want in Your Next Car

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The roomy cabin and panoramic sunroof in the Lexus TX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Enough With the Tech; What About Passenger Conveniences in the Lexus TX?

Lexus clearly thought a lot about how people would really use this car. And they came up with some things that are new to the brand:

  • The removable rear center console between the captain’s chairs easily pops out or can be climbed over. My adult 3rd-row passengers preferred it be removed, but I thought it was OK to climb over
  • Leatherette: I love leatherette; it has the feeling and function of leather, cleans up easily, is more resilient than leather, and looks good. And it’s the upholstery standard in Lexus vehicles, though you can upgrade to leather if you like
  • Hands-free liftgate: I used this one repeatedly to open and close the liftgate — so much so that it quickly became a habit. And it works even when the car is running
  • Reclining 3rd-row seats: a button on the armrest gives you a very nice recline angle
  • Underfloor storage for the cargo cover

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    Our booster seats installed in the Lexus TX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

  • Very nice 3rd-row access: With captain chairs, you can access via the passthrough, and there’s enough room even for full-size adults. Access can also be via a button on the seat shoulder that slides and folds the outboard seats forward. Even with a car seat installed (forward facing), the seat will slide forward for access, though because of the car seat, it creates a smaller foothold. Also note that if the child car seat has the seatbelt attached but not buckled (as with a booster), 3rd-row passengers will need to step over the seatbelt, but they can still access the 3rd row.
  • Good cargo space: We found it to be enough for all our stuff and even for most of the luggage we needed to ferry family to and from the airport.
  • Roomy seats with high seating positions and many windows made everyone comfortable; even though several of my passengers were prone to car sickness, no one puked or threatened to.

Related: Need a Big Car? Here Are Some of our Favorite 8-Passenger SUVs 

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The Lexus TX has removable cup holders in the front console. Photo: Scotty Reiss

And Then, Conveniences for the Driver in the Lexus TX

Here are a few more things I discovered that I really liked:

  • Auto Hold: This function ‘holds’ the brake after you’ve fully pushed it so you can take your foot off the pedal. You do have to hit the button every time you start the car, but you’ll get in the habit; it’s a much happier habit than holding your foot on the brake through every traffic light and long pause at the drive-through.
  • Car wash mode: While not an “official” mode, you can easily tap the quick access panel (the 6 buttons on the lower center of the touch screen) and turn off the sensors; tap the gear selector directly toward you (push it left) to put the car in neutral and turn off the Auto Hold if you have it on. Use the forward-facing camera to line up your front wheel with the car wash conveyor, and then let your girl enjoy the spa.
  • Under vehicle view and cornering view: I’m not sure I really got the full use of these, but I do like the idea of being able to see what is making that scraping noise under the car or where the soccer ball went.
  • No parking ‘lurch:’ Many (most?) cars lurch forward a bit (or a lot?) when you put the car in park. The Lexus TX does not, both when Auto Hold was in use and when it wasn’t. Put it in park, everyone hops out, and no one is jostled (or worse).
  • Customizable Meter: Or, as we say over here in plain language, driver display. You can customize your “Meter” with controls on the multimedia touchscreen.
  • A butterfly-opening center armrest. Ah… this one is so thoughtful: Lexus (and Toyota) added the butterfly opening so that if you have your elbow on the armrest, your driver partner can open her side without disturbing you, and vice versa.
  • I got so used to simply pushing my thumb against the door handle to exit the car that weeks later, I’m still expecting every car door to open that way. I hope someday they all do; it’s simply so intuitive.
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The rear of the Lexus TX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Nicely Edited Mix, From Luxe to Over the Top

It’s easy to go over the top with Lexus: leather seating, microsuede details, F Sport trim, and the plug-in hybrid option all take the starting price of the Lexus TX to $72,650. But for most families, the configuration that we test-drove is exactly what I’d recommend (though I’d add all-wheel drive).

The base 275 HP engine was ample even when we were fully loaded; the leatherette gave me guilt-free power to say yes, even to messy situations; the panoramic sunroof made even 3rd-row passengers feel more comfortable on the road; the spacious seating was easy to access and comfortable for short rides and longer ones.

The tech package in the Lexus TX was an ideal upgrade. Frankly, I might have said before this test drive to skip the fancy tech, but now, I’d recommend it; once you learn to use it, it solves many issues and delivers many lovely conveniences.

I also really liked the price for all this model delivered. At $67,000, it has all the luxuries you expect and, in comparison, is only marginally more expensive than some of its less luxe, less well-equipped competitors. It’s a nice mix of features.

The only thing I’d change is the colors. While I love red and black as a rule, I like a lighter color interior, and I wasn’t crazy about the orange undertones of this red color. But that’s a personal preference, and luckily, Lexus offers a variety of interior and exterior color choices for the 350 model.

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Access to the 3rd row via slide and tilt seats in the Lexus TX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

I wish I’d had the Lexus TX when my kids were in car seats. The ease of driving, handling, and seat access, paired with the tech, made this a stellar week. And not hearing anyone complaining about feeling cramped or the 3rd row put it over the top.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss