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People Mover: New Lexus TX 350

The Lexus TX 350 in Matador Red Mica.
The Lexus TX 350 in Matador Red Mica.

You’ve heard the saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Rumor has it that Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, screamed it to his kilted troops way back in 1314, inspiring them to pummel the English in the Battle of Bannockburn.

Me, I like the W.C. Fields version: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”

The Lexus TX 350 boasts 275-horsepower turbo four-cylinder power
The Lexus TX 350 boasts 275-horsepower turbo four-cylinder power.

The saying could also be attributed to Lexus for its efforts to build a three-row SUV, with a third row that anyone taller than 4′ 6″ could fit without having their knees jammed up by their ears.

Remember the now-discontinued RX-L, the slightly-elongated version of the best-selling RX? It came with a third row boasting the kind of knee room normally reserved for Allegiant Air.

And getting back there required the contortionist skills of a Cirque du Soleil performer. Or Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible.

The Lexus TX 350’s redesigned grille.
The Lexus TX 350’s redesigned grille.

Enter the new, mid-size 2024 Lexus TX, with a family-friendly third row big enough for 95 percentile adults not to feel too cramped, and Little Leaguers to be able to positively stretch out.

It’s based pretty closely on Toyota’s Grand Highlander SUV, sharing its chassis and greasy bits.

Three versions of this new TX are on offer, kicking off with the TX 350 with 275-horsepower turbo four-cylinder power and priced from $56,400. It’s available in Base, Premium, and Luxury models.

The Lexus TX 350’s dark gray finished 20-inch alloys.
The Lexus TX 350’s dark gray finished 20-inch alloys.

Step up to the TX 500h with hybrid power giving a combined 366- horsepower, F Sport adaptive suspension and standard all-wheel drive, with prices from $70,700. Here, take your pick from Premium or Luxury offerings.

The new flagship TX is the TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid that combines a 3.5-liter V6 with electric motors to give 404- horsepower. Plus 33 miles of electric-only driving range. Prices here start at $79,400.

I’ve just spent a week driving the “starter” TX 350 with optional all-wheel drive and painted a rich shade of cherry that Lexus calls Matador Red Mica. Very nicely equipped it stickered at $56,900.

Behind the wheel of the new Lexus TX 350.
Behind the wheel of the new Lexus TX 350.

See it in the metal, this designed-for-the-United States and built-in-Indiana soft-roader should appeal to those, like me, who pretty much hated the gaping, so-called spindle grille of the RX-L. And pretty much every other Lexus SUV.

Here, the hourglass shape has been tamed, with horizontal slats now merely hinting at the shape. That said, it’s as if Lexus designers have gone too far in softening down the look. Now the lack of shiny chrome, and acres of unadorned black plastic, take away any visual interest. Dare I say it all looks a little dull?

Thankfully, the bold, Nike-swoosh-like LED lights, a silvery strip between the lights, and dark gray finished 20-inch alloys at each corner break up the generally tofu-bland appearance.

The Lexus TX 350’s second row seating.
The Lexus TX 350’s second row seating.

Climb aboard and, like the exterior design, the cabin is just a little blah, with nothing to really distinguish it as a Lexus. Thankfully our test car’s seats and door panels were in a light, chalky-white amid the endless black.

But comfort and space are what’s important here. The front seats are super comfy and supportive, the second row has legroom you can stretch out in, and the third row makes the TX a genuine seven-seater. With the middle and third rows folded, there’s as much load space as a Mayflower moving van.

On the road, that 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-4, coupled to an eight-speed automatic, delivers surprisingly lively performance. It’s quiet and refined, too, only sounding breathy when revved hard.

Cargo space aplenty in the Lexus TX 350.
Cargo space aplenty in the Lexus TX 350.

It also has the muscle to haul a 5,000-pound trailer, yet on the highway can average an excellent 27 miles per gallon.

Yes, if you can stretch to the 500h hybrid version, the 366- horsepower and 406 pound-foot of torque will liven up the TX’s performance considerably and improve economy.

But with this new TX, Lexus has tried and tried again, and succeeded in coming up an appealing three-row family hauler.

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