Toyota VS. Lexus: 5 Important Differences (Before Buying)

The Toyota and Lexus car brands are from the same automaker: Toyota Motors.

That must be why they share several features, such as engines. Nevertheless, there are still specific characteristics that separate them.

In this article, we show you the differences between these popular brands:

What Is the Real Difference Between Lexus and Toyota?

Despite being from the same automaker, Lexus and Toyota cars are not the same.

Here are some of their distinguishing features:

1. Image

One clear difference is in the way people treat you. It’s more impressive riding a Lexus as opposed to owning a Toyota because the former is associated with affluence. 

The reason for this is the luxury brand Lexus has promoted over the years. In brand promotion, overall car performance, appearance, and customer service, the brand takes a larger share of the cake. 

Rather than a luxury brand, Toyota is better known for its reliability, fuel efficiency, and practicality. It is the trusty daily driver of most low income and middle-class American car owners. 

2. Performance

Both Toyota and Lexus vehicles come with quality engines that have a long life expectancy. They are safe bets if you want cars that do not require frequent repair.

However, Lexus cars often have extravagant features that are too performance-oriented to fit into the Toyota brand. 

For example, the Lexus GS 350 has a heated steering wheel and power-folding mirrors. These elements are not essential for driving, so they won’t work for a Toyota car, as it often favors vitality. 

3. Price

Lexus cars are way pricier than Toyota alternatives. This is not surprising, considering that the Lexus is a luxury product and Toyota is built for heavy usage.

Which of the Two Cars Are More Reliable?

There is ongoing controversy over the more reliable vehicle between a Lexus and a Toyota. Some surveys rank Lexus as more reliable than Toyota, while others say the opposite. 

The more reasonable explanation is that since Lexus vehicles favor comfort, they have a lot of additional features absent in Toyota vehicles. Crowding these luxury items in a single-car may affect the function of individual parts.

These problems may compromise the reliability of a Lexus.

Toyota cars have an easier way with reliability because their features are essential. In a J.D. Power Reliability Survey, Toyota cars averaged a score of 3.83 out of 5. The Lexus brand averaged about 3.7 out of 5.

Here is a link to our article that talks on How Long do Toyota Engines Last?

Are Toyotas Cheaper than Lexus?

Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota. Naturally, it makes sense that it is pricier than Toyota, which is the non-luxury brand.

What makes Lexus even more expensive than Toyotas is that most of their cars are larger than Toyota vehicles.

The cheapest Toyota you can get right now is the Toyota Yaris, which costs about $15,650 for the most basic model. Interestingly, the most affordable Lexus is an SUV that costs $32,300. So, the cheapest Lexus actually costs twice as much as the least costly Toyota.

It’s the same for the most expensive models. The most expensive Lexus car, the LC, costs $97,510, 10,000 dollars more than the priciest Toyota, the Land Cruiser.

Again, let’s take the 2019 Toyota Avalon and the 2019 Lexus ES 350, for example. The Toyota Avalon is $4,000 cheaper than the Lexus ES 350. Of course, it lacks some luxurious features that the ES has, like power seats and active noise cancellation. But it saves you money if you are on a tighter budget.

The Lexus ES 350 is a luxury car with more goodies, but it costs more. If, however, you have the cash to spare, you should get it.

Does Lexus or Toyota Sell More Cars?

Toyota always sells more cars than Lexus. The reason for this might be the wealth distribution in the United States, the primary market of Toyota Motors. 

The bulk of citizens in the country belong to the lower and middle-income classes. Seeing as Lexus cars are quite expensive, it is no surprise that they go for Toyotas.

According to the Toyota Motor North America report, the Toyota brand sold over a million trucks and more than two million cars in 2019. The Lexus brand only sold about 205,000 trucks and 298,000 cars.

The Toyota brand generates most of its sales from Toyota Camry and Corolla cars. With Lexus, the IS car is its major source of revenue.

However, in terms of sales rates, Toyota sales have dropped by 2.0% over the past two years. Lexus sales have remained stable.

How Do the Prices on Repair and Maintenance Stack Up?

Lexus cars have more luxurious features than Toyotas. That means more parts to cater to during maintenance. It is not surprising, therefore, that it costs more to maintain and repair them.

For example, the price for maintaining a Lexus ES is double the cost of a V6 Toyota Camry. Oil change, however, is roughly the same for both Lexus and Toyota cars.

Nonetheless, oil change and general repair might cost more for Lexus owners because of the extra services they enjoy at the technician. When Lexus owners service their cars, they get a free meal and a car wash. Apparently, this is part of the reasons they pay more than Toyota car owners.

How Is the Performance of the Two Brands Compared?

Because there is quite a range of vehicles between the Toyota and Lexus, their performance can be difficult to quantify. That said, many of the vehicles from both brands share components like engines and transmissions that make the performance uniform. 

Both the Toyota Camry XS and Lexus ES come with a 3.5L horsepower and four-cylinder engines. So, if you are looking for a powerful vehicle that is still stylish, Toyota and Lexus cars have you covered. 

 If you are looking for a vehicle that can carry its own weight, you can compare the Toyota Tundra and Lexus LX. Even though the Lexus LX is not a truck but a luxury vehicle, it can tow about 7,000 pounds’ worth of weight. 

Of course, since the Toyota Tundra is a truck, it has a higher towing capacity of 10,000 pounds. That poses no surprise because realistically, no one would buy a Lexus to do construction-type jobs.

Both brands also measure up to each other in fuel efficiency. Strictly, the Lexus will take the edge in performance because with a company like Toyota Motors; extra money means higher performance.

However, because Lexus shares similarities with Toyota in engine capacity, you are barely losing out on any performance.

Which Brand Is More Durable? 

 Again, because there are so many cars in between Lexus and Toyotas, it is difficult to get a clear answer.

What is clear, though, is that both Lexus and Toyota cars can last for a very long time. In fact, customer reviews have shown that both the Toyota and Lexus can go as far as 300,000 miles with minimal repairs. 

In the end, durability is not an issue if you need to choose between a Toyota and Lexus. But we can tell you that Toyota Sequoia and Lexus ES are the most touted for durability.

What you should consider when choosing whether to buy a Lexus or a Toyota is your budget. And maybe your penchant or otherwise for luxury.

What About Safety?

Both brands have impressive safety scores, but Lexus has the win here.

As is in many of the categories already discussed, Lexus only beats Toyota by an edge.

Lexus vehicles come standard with Lexus Safety System Plus, which provides forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Toyota has a similar driver assistance feature called the Toyota Safety Sense Plus or TSS Plus. The TSS Plus is standard in popular Toyota vehicles like the Camry, Corolla, and RAV4. Most Toyota vehicles have high scores in safety, but models like the 4Runner bring the average down. 

In December 2019, numerous customers driving the 4Runner reported holes in the frame and rust issues. Apparently, it is unsafe to drive the 4Runner and other Toyota cars like the Sequoia in snowy conditions because snow often salts the road.

Which Is a Better-Used Car?

 Most Lexus buyers are wealthy and have no reason to take a lot of mileage on their car. Toyota car owners, on the other hand, often belong to the lower and middle-income classes.

The Toyota car is probably the only one they own, so they have no choice but to use it often.

Used Lexus cars are costly, sometimes as much as a new Toyota car. Why buy a used car when you can get a new one, especially when it costs more to maintain? For this reason, most people tend to buy used Toyota cars rather than used Lexus vehicles.

Other Differences You Should Know of

The most significant difference between the two brands is that they are produced for different lifestyles and personalities. Toyota is the darling and workhorse of the working class. Its legendary reliability beats its competitors hands-down. 

Whereas, Lexus was conceptualized to evoke opulence and luxury. Its target market is affluent and deep-pocketed of society. Almost everything under the hood of the two brands is the same, except for the messaging. 

If you fancy a reliable car that will deliver over 200,000 miles without expensive repairs, Toyota is the way to go. The Lexus can also deliver astonishing performance with no issues, but why bother with such a pricey toy? 

Whatever your choice, you can’t go wrong with a Toyota or Lexus vehicle. For reliable performance and stress-free rides, these Japanese automotive wonders will always do their magic. 

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