What would you pick and why?

suxeL

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Preface: Sorry mods couldnt find a subforum to post this in so decided to place this here.

Family friends in the market and is a Toyota loyalist, and has not switched brands since eternity. He wants something fresh but dead reliable. Friends also a one and done kinda person, where his last toyota was bought new some 15 years ago (camry). Oil changes, tires, a starter, and some evap trouble.

I went on the shopping saga with them so relaying some interesting observations.
They narrowed down to a pretty interesting but broad spectrum of vehicles....
RX
GX
Highlander XLE.

Upon asking about why the three, was told its a contest between dead reliable and potential with the GX vs middle ground RX vs Tech forward Highlander.

RX->We got into the dealership, and the vehicle was waiting for us outside. Pretty basic/loaner spec, AWD, smaller infotainment, nuluxe seats, BSM with RCSTA, and some other items I don’t have the v-spec to confirm. In the RX you sit quite a bit back from the windshield, almost Chevy Lumina APV style if anyone remembers that vehicle. Friend loved the safety kit (first vehicle hes driven with the nannies), fit finish was good, solid thud. Infotainment was basic (non nav unit). Kinda harsh over bumps almost crashy if that’s a thing. Easy and manageable to drive.


GX->Different day different dealer, and usually you see premiums as demo units, but this was a unicorn base trim. The vehicle sitting position is much different than the RX, higher and closer to the windshield. The fit and finish felt and looked like we had been transported back to 2010. Non nav unit was uber slow, but worked. On our test loop, friend said the driving experience was extremely disconnected, but gave him a huge confidence boost; heck each pothole felt like they were being steamrolled over. Interior noise was similar to the RX. Engine was responsive but didn’t feel gutsy like the RX, transmission didn’t hesistate. Door frames closed with the thud, but looked thin (if that’s a thing). The safety kit was there but it wasn’t as intrusive as the RXs most recent kit. The biggest thing going for it was it seemed like it feels like it will last, while the RX seems like maybe warranty and then the rattles come out.

Highlander XLE-> Toyota dealerships are either a solid hit or a uber miss, and this was a bit of both. Demo unit was lost and then magically found. Initially it felt strange. The new highlander sits lower then the outgoing unit, almost minivan like without the sliding door. The engine is the same in the RX, but it feels more punchy here for some reason. Infotainment was a huge WTF moment, as we had tested the GX back to back with this unit. Where the GX has some lag registering inputs, the highlander was snappy. AA, CP was there but we couldn’t test it. The TSS system was better calibrated in the highlander, and apparently TSS 2.5/3 is coming out for MY21s which add some more features. Fit and finish of course was not Lexus level, but bested the GX while maybe coming close to the RX. Noise was a bit more pronounced. The highlander felt as though it was screwed intogether tight, but didn’t feel as though its going to be that way when the warranty is over (driver door seal was in bad shape)

After all that where did he end up…highlander XLE but when orders begin for MY21 for the TSS upgrades.

I asked him why the Highlander over a more premium GX and RX, and his response was " why pay the premium when I`m getting the same reliable powertrain, better safety kit and tech, and a extra row of seats for a lot less and free maintenance. Lexus is a great brand in its own right, but the highlander feels fresher then the RX."

What would you do, in this situation, would you too forgo an RX/GX for a new highlander?
 

Ian Schmidt

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Unlike your friend, I find BOF vehicles unpleasant to drive, so the GX would be out immediately with no further consideration (my most recent service loaner was a GX so I'm very familiar with it). The Highlander is TNGA and the RX isn't yet, so I definitely can't fault him for choosing the Highlander between those two.
 

Gecko

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I dislike the current generation RX for many reasons and would automatically rule it out in favor of the Highlander being newer and on TNGA with all that brings + same engine and transmission. I can't really recommend the RX to anyone with the new Highlander around and the Venza coming soon.

I like the GX, but between that and the new Highlander, it would be a tough call. Not sure what the extra cost is, or what your friend has for a budget, but I would personally spring for a Highlander Limited. It has the Lexus-like interior that's much nicer than the GX and very close to the RX, plus the best of everything Toyota currently offers. I might even wait until November/December and try to get clearance pricing on a 2020 Highlander Limited when the 2021 models come out because I don't think the minor update in TSS is really worth that much money.

With that said, as much as I loved the last generation Highlander, I don't feel the same about the new one and I spent a lot of time in one last weekend. For your average family shopper, I guess it ticks all of the boxes, but the last gen was better looking to me and also had a much better seating position. The new one has a fairly low dash that I couldn't get comfortable behind (I'm 6'1"). The looks of the current one look oddly stretched out of proportion and have long overhangs... the last one was more proportional and upright.

Seems to me like the 4Runner Limited could also be an option if you're looking at the GX?
 
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I think if he talked numbers with the dealers, an RX could be a compelling purchase over the Highlander since Lexus dealers are more willing to wheel and deal, but yeah, the tech is better in the HL. I suppose if they still want a Camry-like ownership, both would be a good choice.

Only get a GX if offroading or towing is what he plans to do, and a pre-owned would save him more over a new one.
 

suxeL

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Unlike your friend, I find BOF vehicles unpleasant to drive, so the GX would be out immediately with no further consideration (my most recent service loaner was a GX so I'm very familiar with it). The Highlander is TNGA and the RX isn't yet, so I definitely can't fault him for choosing the Highlander between those two.
Totally understandable, the GX is very purpose built. The TGNA improvements would tip the scales towards the RX vs Highlander
 

suxeL

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I dislike the current generation RX for many reasons and would automatically rule it out in favor of the Highlander being newer and on TNGA with all that brings + same engine and transmission. I can't really recommend the RX to anyone with the new Highlander around and the Venza coming soon.

I like the GX, but between that and the new Highlander, it would be a tough call. Not sure what the extra cost is, or what your friend has for a budget, but I would personally spring for a Highlander Limited. It has the Lexus-like interior that's much nicer than the GX and very close to the RX, plus the best of everything Toyota currently offers. I might even wait until November/December and try to get clearance pricing on a 2020 Highlander Limited when the 2021 models come out because I don't think the minor update in TSS is really worth that much money.

With that said, as much as I loved the last generation Highlander, I don't feel the same about the new one and I spent a lot of time in one last weekend. For your average family shopper, I guess it ticks all of the boxes, but the last gen was better looking to me and also had a much better seating position. The new one has a fairly low dash that I couldn't get comfortable behind (I'm 6'1"). The looks of the current one look oddly stretched out of proportion and have long overhangs... the last one was more proportional and upright.

Seems to me like the 4Runner Limited could also be an option if you're looking at the GX?
They actually had a a 2 MY19 Highlanders, and were discounted quite deeply but seeing how hes a one and done shopper, the newer the vehicle the better for him. I do appreciate the 3rd gens higher off the ground look, but the interior in the day looked dated (same probs with the GX).
 

suxeL

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I think if he talked numbers with the dealers, an RX could be a compelling purchase over the Highlander since Lexus dealers are more willing to wheel and deal, but yeah, the tech is better in the HL. I suppose if they still want a Camry-like ownership, both would be a good choice.

Only get a GX if offroading or towing is what he plans to do, and a pre-owned would save him more over a new one.
Oh for sure, but unfortunately inventory on the RX is in short supply (they did have close to 60 RXs 20 RX-Ls 4 hybrids. The highlander had the same spiel.
 
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I dislike the current generation RX for many reasons and would automatically rule it out in favor of the Highlander being newer and on TNGA with all that brings + same engine and transmission. I can't really recommend the RX to anyone with the new Highlander around and the Venza coming soon.

I like the GX, but between that and the new Highlander, it would be a tough call. Not sure what the extra cost is, or what your friend has for a budget, but I would personally spring for a Highlander Limited. It has the Lexus-like interior that's much nicer than the GX and very close to the RX, plus the best of everything Toyota currently offers. I might even wait until November/December and try to get clearance pricing on a 2020 Highlander Limited when the 2021 models come out because I don't think the minor update in TSS is really worth that much money.

With that said, as much as I loved the last generation Highlander, I don't feel the same about the new one and I spent a lot of time in one last weekend. For your average family shopper, I guess it ticks all of the boxes, but the last gen was better looking to me and also had a much better seating position. The new one has a fairly low dash that I couldn't get comfortable behind (I'm 6'1"). The looks of the current one look oddly stretched out of proportion and have long overhangs... the last one was more proportional and upright.

Seems to me like the 4Runner Limited could also be an option if you're looking at the GX?
Yeah I'm 100% with @Gecko on this. If your friend is considering to buy a GX, then he's definitely in the budget for the Highlander Platinum. I would go as much to say to swing for the Highlander too. The only niggle that I've heard some complaints about from reviewers is that the car can be a little bit brash in terms of engine noise on wide open throttle but other than that it's a solid car, very well built, is one of the quickest/fastest in the entire segment, has a wonderful AWD system, and is a knock out of the park in terms of tech and ergonomics features.

The Highlander won't be able to off-road as much as the GX, though it can do some serious trekking on very rough terrain.

The RX as it currently is, I just wouldn't go for it unless you want a car that has a very sterile driving experience. It's a GREAT luxury car that's really comfortable with almost zero exterior road noise and is pretty quick too, but I'd personally put the Highlander Platinum at the top of the list and would recommend your friend to shortlist the GX because the GX is a very purpose-built vehicle that also has its own redeeming qualities and make a decision between the GX and the Highlander. They are both excellent vehicles but as I mentioned before, I would swing for the Highlander if you're not planning on doing some serious off-roading (like running away from a zombie apocalypse on a steep mountain) and for the more modern interior design and interior technology. Remember, the Highlander has a fantastic torque-vectoring AWD system and a V6 that's as powerful as the GX's V8 but has a little less torque, so they're almost dead even in terms of performance.
 

suxeL

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Yeah I'm 100% with @Gecko on this. If your friend is considering to buy a GX, then he's definitely in the budget for the Highlander Platinum. I would go as much to say to swing for the Highlander too. The only niggle that I've heard some complaints about from reviewers is that the car can be a little bit brash in terms of engine noise on wide open throttle but other than that it's a solid car, very well built, is one of the quickest/fastest in the entire segment, has a wonderful AWD system, and is a knock out of the park in terms of tech and ergonomics features.

The Highlander won't be able to off-road as much as the GX, though it can do some serious trekking on very rough terrain.

The RX as it currently is, I just wouldn't go for it unless you want a car that has a very sterile driving experience. It's a GREAT luxury car that's really comfortable with almost zero exterior road noise and is pretty quick too, but I'd personally put the Highlander Platinum at the top of the list and would recommend your friend to shortlist the GX because the GX is a very purpose-built vehicle that also has its own redeeming qualities and make a decision between the GX and the Highlander. They are both excellent vehicles but as I mentioned before, I would swing for the Highlander if you're not planning on doing some serious off-roading (like running away from a zombie apocalypse on a steep mountain) and for the more modern interior design and interior technology. Remember, the Highlander has a fantastic torque-vectoring AWD system and a V6 that's as powerful as the GX's V8 but has a little less torque, so they're almost dead even in terms of performance.
We had were discussing this before and the test drives:

Offroading is out of the question on either front. highways malls and local streets is all this vehicle is going to be doing. The GX vs Highlander debate in that respect takes the GXs biggest quality out of play.

From there on, the quietness of the GX, dead reliability of a 10 year old powertrain setup remains (maybe high resale value).

The Highlander platinum would be a bit louder (3 decibels in some instrument tests), the 8 speed not as tested as the ole 6, and the limited discount and availability would be the only knocks against it.
Car based chassis, more driver aids, infotainment, pano sunroof and some other creature comforts takeover.

He hasnt put down a deposit on a custom order yet. We shall seee and I`ll keep yall updated.
 

ssun30

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The offroad argument is pretty weak for GX, because the spundle grille severely limits its approach angle. It also has regular all season tyres that are not very big. So unless the plan is to modify it, the GX won't be much more capable than the Highlander as an overland vehicle.
 

Gecko

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We had were discussing this before and the test drives:

Offroading is out of the question on either front. highways malls and local streets is all this vehicle is going to be doing. The GX vs Highlander debate in that respect takes the GXs biggest quality out of play.

From there on, the quietness of the GX, dead reliability of a 10 year old powertrain setup remains (maybe high resale value).

The Highlander platinum would be a bit louder (3 decibels in some instrument tests), the 8 speed not as tested as the ole 6, and the limited discount and availability would be the only knocks against it.
Car based chassis, more driver aids, infotainment, pano sunroof and some other creature comforts takeover.

He hasnt put down a deposit on a custom order yet. We shall seee and I`ll keep yall updated.
Between the UR V8/6AT and the GR V6/8AT, I think it's hard to go wrong with either. The UR for the GX came out in 2009, the GR V6 debuted in 2004 in the 2005 Avalon and the only change for that motor was the 2GR-FKS for 2015. 8AT has been around for ~6 years in mass produced products, and it's been rock solid. I think the basic architecture for that transmission was from the 2007 LS 460, which is very proven now.

As a family with 4Runners, GXs and Highlanders abound, I think it is hard to justify the extra running cost of the GX over the Highlander if you're not going to be doing any towing or off roading. Even with regard to reliability, as much as we all want new engines, the Highlander is using a 15 year old block and a proven transmission that dates back to ~2007. It also gets roughly 8MPG better in combined driving and takes regular gas.
 

suxeL

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The offroad argument is pretty weak for GX, because the spundle grille severely limits its approach angle. It also has regular all season tyres that are not very big. So unless the plan is to modify it, the GX won't be much more capable than the Highlander as an overland vehicle.
Overland is not even remotely on his mind. From talking to him, about his use case its a mall cruiser when it snow maybe lol
 

suxeL

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Between the UR V8/6AT and the GR V6/8AT, I think it's hard to go wrong with either. The UR for the GX came out in 2009, the GR V6 debuted in 2004 in the 2005 Avalon and the only change for that motor was the 2GR-FKS for 2015. 8AT has been around for ~6 years in mass produced products, and it's been rock solid. I think the basic architecture for that transmission was from the 2007 LS 460, which is very proven now.

As a family with 4Runners, GXs and Highlanders abound, I think it is hard to justify the extra running cost of the GX over the Highlander if you're not going to be doing any towing or off roading. Even with regard to reliability, as much as we all want new engines, the Highlander is using a 15 year old block and a proven transmission that dates back to ~2007. It also gets roughly 8MPG better in combined driving and takes regular gas.
Is this the same 8 speed used in the refresh 3rd gen that were being replaced due to internal failure (at least for the first half of 2017)?
 

suxeL

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Refreshed 3rd gen... Highlander?
Correct me if i`m wrong but the outgoing Highlander (Gen 3) had two types of transmissions. Pre MY17 was a 6 speed, while MY17-19 were given the 8 speed. The MY17s 8 speeds had a sizeable amount of failures (some resulting in buybacks, and others were replaced). The same transmission is whats being used in the Current 4th gen highlander?
 
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Gecko

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Correct me if i`m wrong but the outgoing Highlander (Gen 3) had two types of transmissions. Pre MY17 was a 6 speed, while MY17-19 were given the 8 speed. The MY17s 8 speeds had a sizeable amount of failures (some resulting in buybacks, and others were replaced). The same transmission is whats being used in the Current 4th gen highlander?
I never heard about that, so I might be a bit out of the loop. I assume RXs had the same issues?
 

suxeL

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I never heard about that, so I might be a bit out of the loop. I assume RXs had the same issues?
The RX unit seems to be the same unit, however economy focused transmission logic coupled with resonance issues seems to be the biggest complaint with RX owners. Multiple TSBs exist for it, but doesnt really solve the issue.

Thankfully on both test drives the 8 speed exhibited no such issues, but without an extended test drive its going to be hard to be conclusive. I do agree that 6 + years of real world data already exist, so nitpicky at best.

I doubt hes going to move to a Highlander platinum (its in his budget range) but value focus is strong with the XLE. We shall see.
 
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The RX unit seems to be the same unit, however economy focused transmission logic coupled with resonance issues seems to be the biggest complaint with RX owners. Multiple TSBs exist for it, but doesnt really solve the issue.

Thankfully on both test drives the 8 speed exhibited no such issues, but without an extended test drive its going to be hard to be conclusive. I do agree that 6 + years of real world data already exist, so nitpicky at best.

I doubt hes going to move to a Highlander platinum (its in his budget range) but value focus is strong with the XLE. We shall see.
The 8-speed shouldn't have any reliability issues from what I've known and seen, but the automatic is geared heavily towards fuel economy as we see in the Camry and the Avalon. We also know that Toyota neuters the engine output and dumbens down the transmission when you launch the car off a line because the average owner (and the car itself) would be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of power and torque that goes to the front wheels.

However I have a theory that the Highlander shouldn't have this problem, and there seems to be videos and reviews that support my claim too, and I believe it's thanks to the torque vectoring AWD system (not the normal traction control-based AWD system that's in lower spec Highlanders), but I'm not sure if they offer the torque vectoring AWD system in the Highlander XLE.

From what I've seen, the Highlander doesn't seem to be overwhelmed by the V6's power because it's able to put down the power to all four wheels (AND is able to send a tangible majority of the power to just one individual wheel) rather than two like you see in the Camry and the Avalon. The transmission doesn't seem to have those stupidly long gears like the Camry and Avalon even though we all know that Toyota tunes their 8-speed automatics for fuel economy.
 
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CRSKTN

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Preface: Sorry mods couldnt find a subforum to post this in so decided to place this here.

Family friends in the market and is a Toyota loyalist, and has not switched brands since eternity. He wants something fresh but dead reliable. Friends also a one and done kinda person, where his last toyota was bought new some 15 years ago (camry). Oil changes, tires, a starter, and some evap trouble.

I went on the shopping saga with them so relaying some interesting observations.
They narrowed down to a pretty interesting but broad spectrum of vehicles....
RX
GX
Highlander XLE.

Upon asking about why the three, was told its a contest between dead reliable and potential with the GX vs middle ground RX vs Tech forward Highlander.

RX->We got into the dealership, and the vehicle was waiting for us outside. Pretty basic/loaner spec, AWD, smaller infotainment, nuluxe seats, BSM with RCSTA, and some other items I don’t have the v-spec to confirm. In the RX you sit quite a bit back from the windshield, almost Chevy Lumina APV style if anyone remembers that vehicle. Friend loved the safety kit (first vehicle hes driven with the nannies), fit finish was good, solid thud. Infotainment was basic (non nav unit). Kinda harsh over bumps almost crashy if that’s a thing. Easy and manageable to drive.


GX->Different day different dealer, and usually you see premiums as demo units, but this was a unicorn base trim. The vehicle sitting position is much different than the RX, higher and closer to the windshield. The fit and finish felt and looked like we had been transported back to 2010. Non nav unit was uber slow, but worked. On our test loop, friend said the driving experience was extremely disconnected, but gave him a huge confidence boost; heck each pothole felt like they were being steamrolled over. Interior noise was similar to the RX. Engine was responsive but didn’t feel gutsy like the RX, transmission didn’t hesistate. Door frames closed with the thud, but looked thin (if that’s a thing). The safety kit was there but it wasn’t as intrusive as the RXs most recent kit. The biggest thing going for it was it seemed like it feels like it will last, while the RX seems like maybe warranty and then the rattles come out.

Highlander XLE-> Toyota dealerships are either a solid hit or a uber miss, and this was a bit of both. Demo unit was lost and then magically found. Initially it felt strange. The new highlander sits lower then the outgoing unit, almost minivan like without the sliding door. The engine is the same in the RX, but it feels more punchy here for some reason. Infotainment was a huge WTF moment, as we had tested the GX back to back with this unit. Where the GX has some lag registering inputs, the highlander was snappy. AA, CP was there but we couldn’t test it. The TSS system was better calibrated in the highlander, and apparently TSS 2.5/3 is coming out for MY21s which add some more features. Fit and finish of course was not Lexus level, but bested the GX while maybe coming close to the RX. Noise was a bit more pronounced. The highlander felt as though it was screwed intogether tight, but didn’t feel as though its going to be that way when the warranty is over (driver door seal was in bad shape)

After all that where did he end up…highlander XLE but when orders begin for MY21 for the TSS upgrades.

I asked him why the Highlander over a more premium GX and RX, and his response was " why pay the premium when I`m getting the same reliable powertrain, better safety kit and tech, and a extra row of seats for a lot less and free maintenance. Lexus is a great brand in its own right, but the highlander feels fresher then the RX."

What would you do, in this situation, would you too forgo an RX/GX for a new highlander?

What I wouldnt do is go shopping for luxury cars, then limit myself to only the most basic configurations.

Just go buy the Toyota. If you're nickel and diming off the start, you probably wont be happy with the maintenance and service costs compared to the Toyota.
 
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