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All Lexus models explained: Your complete buying guide

Use this summary to clear the confusion of Lexus alpha codes

Lexus / Lexus

In 1989, Toyota and Nissan launched luxury vehicle lines in the U.S. to build on their respective success with mainstream vehicles and to take advantage of American car buyers’ growing interest in imported luxury cars. Both the Toyota Lexus brand and Nissan Infiniti line were successful, but if it was a race, Lexus won.

In 1991, Lexus became the best-selling luxury import brand. That year, Lexus sold more cars in the U.S. than Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the previous imported luxury car sales leaders.

The first Lexus models were the LS 400 and the ES 250. The ES 250 was an upgraded version of the Toyota Camry, with more luxury features, upgraded finishes and materials, and more soundproofing. The V8-powered Lexus LS 400, the flagship of the two-vehicle brand, was not based on an existing U.S. market Toyota model but was often compared to the Mercedes-Benz S Class sedans.

Reviewers gave both Lexus cars very high marks and an unusual emphasis on customer service at Lexus dealerships rapidly added to the brand’s reputation. My wife traded an Oldsmobile Cutlass for a Lexus ES 250 in 1990. Both dealerships were in the same auto retail campus and had the same owner, but the difference between the two service departments was astounding.

Over time, Lexus’s reputation has been solidified by consistently high build quality, excellent customer satisfaction ratings, high retained resale value, and long-term reliability and durability.

Today, like other car companies in the U.S. market, Lexus sells more SUVs than cars, but it is still a segment leader in sedans. Most Lexus models are identified by two-letter codes that defy any logical understanding. You just have to know them.

The following summaries of the current various Lexus models will help you understand the various Lexus size, power, and trim levels.

Lexus SUVs

Lexus LX Ultra Luuxury
Lexus / Lexus

Like its Toyota parent company, Lexus makes a ton of different SUVs, some of which are based on Toyota models. Rather than playing matching games with Lexus and Toyota model names, I’ll just stick to the basic concepts for each of the seven Lexus SUV models.

UX, starting at $37,490

Lexus UXh FSport.
Lexues / Lexus

The smallest Lexus SUV is a compact crossover with a 196 hp hybrid engine, Lexus Safety System 3.0, and 43-mpg combined EPA estimated miles for the front-wheel drive model. The UXh is also available with all-wheel drive (AWD), starting at $39,060.

UX 300h, UX 300h Premium, UX 300h F Sport

NX, starting at $41,765

Lexus NX 450h.
Lexus / Lexus

The NX Lexus crossovers are still small but a step up in performance, with more luxury and a variety of power sources including gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV).

NX 250, NX 350, NX 350 F Sport, NX 350h, NX 450h+, NX 450h+ F Sport

RX, starting at $49,950

RX 500h FSPORT Performance AWD Caviar.

The Lexus RX SUV is the brand’s best-selling model, albeit the RX includes 11 styles, including gas, hybrid, and PHEV powertrains. The entry-level RX 350 has a 275 hp turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder engine.

Models: RX 350, RX 350h AWD, RX 350 Premium, RX 350h Premium AWD, RX 350 Premium+, RX 350h Premium+ AWD, RX 350 Luxury, RX 350h Luxury AWD RX 350 F Sport Handling AWD, RX 450h+ Luxury AWD, RX 500h+ F Sport Performance AWD      

RZ, starting at $55,150

Lexus RZ 450e Group Luxury Premium.

The Lexus RZ compact crossover is an all-electric vehicle with up to 266 miles per charge

Models: RZ 300e Premium, RZ 300e Luxury, RZ 450e Premium AWD, RZ 450e Luxury AWD

TX, starting at $55,050

Lexus TX 550h Nightfall Mica.
Lexus / Lexus

The Lexus TX is a three-row, six or seven-passenger mid-size SUV with several powertrains including turbocharged 4-cylinder gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid models, and a V6 PHEV.

Models: TX 350, TX 350 AWD, TX 350 Premium, TX 350 Premium AWD, TX 350 Luxury, TX 350 Luxury AWD, TX 500h F Sport Performance Premium AWD, TX 500h F Sport Performance Luxury AWD, TX 550h+ Luxury AWD 

GX, starting at $64,250

Lexus GX550 Overtrail.
Lexus / Lexus

The rugged GX SUVs have a 349 hp 3.4-liter V6 Twin Turbo gas engines and full-time four-wheel drive.

Models: GX 550 Premium, GX 550 Luxury, GX 550 Overtrail

LX, starting at $93,915

Lexus LX Ultra Luxury.
Lexus / Lexus

Powered by a 409 Hp Twin Turbo V6 gasoline engine, the  LX has full-time four-wheel drive and Lexus Safety System+ 2.5.

Models: LX, LX Premium, LX F Sport Handling, LX Luxury, and  LX Ultra Luxury

Lexus Cars

Coupes, sedans, and convertibles with 4, 6, and 8-cylinder gas engines, hybrids, PHEVs, and even all-electric models, Lexus proves that automakers still sell cars and not just trucks and SUVs.

IS, starting at $41,235

Lexus IS 300.
Lexus / Lexus

Choose from one dozen IS sedans with power ranging from a 241-hp turbocharged in-line four-cylinder engine to a 472-hp naturally aspirated V8. While selecting you engine you can also lean toward sporty and luxury packages.

Models: IS 300, IS 300 AWD, IS 300 F Sport Design, IS 300 F Sport Design AWD, IS 300 F Sport, IS 300 F Sport AWD, IS 350 F Sport Design, IS 350 F Sport Design AWD, IS 350 F Sport, IS 350 F Sport AWD, IS 500 F Sport Performance, IS 500 F Sport Performance Premium

ES, starting at $43,190

Lexus ES 350.
Lexus / Lexus

Configuring a Lexus ES model is like ordering a deli sandwich at a counter where the staff holler “What bread?,” “What meat?,” “What cheese?” With 14 variants and choices between 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, and hybrid engines, FWD or AWD, and a focus on luxury, ultra luxury, sport handling, or sport design, the only choice left is color.

Models: ES 250 AWD, ES 350, ES 250 Luxury AWD, ES 250 Luxury, ES 250 Ultra Luxury AWD, ES 350 Ultra Luxury, ES 250 F Sport Design AWD, ES 350 F Sport Design, ES 350 F Sport Handling, ES 300h, ES 300h Luxury, ES 300h Ultra Luxury, ES 300h F Sport Design, ES 300h F Sport Handling

LS, starting at $80,685

Lexus LS-500 F-Sport.
Lexus / Lexus

Fire up the LS 500’s 416-hp twin-turbo V6 engine to enjoy the big sedan’s blend of luxury and performance.

Models: LS 500, LS 500 AWD, LS 500 F Sport, LS 500 F Sport AWD, LS 500h AWD

RC, starting at $45,920

Lexus RC.
Lexus / Lexus

The two-door Lexus RC and RC F Sport coupes are performance-focused, with tuned suspensions and 3.5-liter V6 engines.

Models: RC 300, RC 300 F Sport, RC 300 AWD, RC 300 F Sport AWD, RC 350, RC 350 F Sport

LC, starting at $99,800

Lexus LC500.
Lexus / Lexus

The Lexus LC model coupes and convertibles start with the LC 500, powered by a 471-hp 5.0-liter V8 engine with 4.4 second 0-to-60 mph acceleration. The LC 500h hybrid has a combined 354 horsepower. Luxury and performance are the bywords for the Lexus LC lineup.

Models: LC 500, LC 500h, LC 500 Convertible, LC 500 Inspiration Series, LC 500 Convertible Inspiration Series

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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