I drove a Lexus TX550H+ plug-in hybrid for a week — here's my pros and cons

Lexus TX550H+ in a parking lot.
(Image credit: Future)

Vehicles from luxury brands wouldn’t be my first choice because they’re out of my budget, but after driving a Lexus TX550H+ for a week, I now have a better idea of what makes luxury vehicles different. What I’m more excited about is the fact it's technically the first PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) I got to drive as well, which makes it all the more special. Why's that? Well, I think it's the type of vehicle that could convince more people of the potential savings of electric cars.

Being behind the wheel of this three-row SUV was intimidating, especially when it’s much higher off the ground than most other SUVs — rivaling pickup trucks like the Ford F150 Lightning that I also test drove not long ago. The first day was mainly getting a feel for its handling and being accustomed to all the car tech inside. I didn’t realize it at first, but I eventually got a better idea of what makes luxury brands different.

Rightfully so, it's on the pricier side with its starting cost of $78,050. That puts it well into luxury brand territory, so here’s my pros and cons about the Lexus TX550H+.

All-electric power at your disposal

Lexus TX550H+ PHEV

(Image credit: Future)

Naturally, the coolest thing about the Lexus TX550H+ is that it offers an estimated all-electric drive range of 33 miles. This is in addition to its standard 29 mpg fuel economy of the hybrid system that powers the car with a combination of electric and gas power.

But the nice thing here is that you can essentially drive it on all-electric power, then recharge it overnight to hopefully have it back to 100% when you need it the following day. By doing this, it could have a tremendous impact on saving you money long term if you don’t have a long commute each day to work.

Helpful HUD in the windshield

Lexus TX550H+ HUD shown in the windshield.

(Image credit: Future)

One feature that signifies the Lexus TX550H+ as a luxury vehicle is the heads-up display that projects glanceable information directly onto the windshield. This feature gives it that futuristic appeal that I haven't experienced in other vehicles because not only does it show me how fast I’m driving, but it will also display other notifications and alerts that don’t distract me.

I’ve also found out that it works well with turn-by-turn navigation of the car’s built-in navigation system. Rather than relying on the touchscreen display to see them, they come up in the head-up display — including directional arrows that point me where to go.

Digital rearview mirror

Gif animation of digital rearview mirror on Lexus TX550H+.

(Image credit: Future)

I quickly had to adjust my normal driving behaviors, like having to lean over my shoulder to see who’s in my blind spot. That’s because the Lexus TX550H+ offers a digital rearview mirror that gives me a wider field of view of who’s behind me.

It’s useful for changing lanes on the highway because flipping the lever underneath the mirror activates it. At night when I’m blinded by the headlights from the car behind me, switching to the digital rearview mirror makes it easier to see who’s there.

Automated parking keeps it in between the lines

I can confidently park in a spot all on my own, but others may find it challenging. That’s where the Lexus TX550H+’s advanced park system kicks in to automate the entire process, always keeping the vehicle in between the lines when it’s done.

I tried this out in a parking lot with painted lines for each spot. After pressing the corresponding button on the dashboard, it proceeded to show me the aerial view of the nearby spots — I then selected where to park.  From there, the TX550H+ took complete control of the wheel and steered it ever slowly into the parking spot. Perfect each and every time I've tried it.

Apple CarPlay & Android Auto support

Lexus TX550H+ in a parking lot.

(Image credit: Future)

Even though I wouldn’t necessarily classify this one as a feature exclusively tied to luxury vehicles, I cannot begin to tell you how I love vehicles that provide the option of which infotainment system I can use in the car. Lexus has its own thing, but after pairing my iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 8 Pro, I had the option to use CarPlay and Android Auto respectively.

These are big changes for me coming from a decade-old stereo system that doesn’t even offer Bluetooth, so I find it neat that I can quickly order a coffee at the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts through CarPlay. Beyond that, it feels like my phone is what’s powering the entire experience inside of the Lexus TX550H+.

Headlights have their own personal washers

Gif animation of headlight washers on Lexus TX550H+ PHEV.

(Image credit: Future)

Nothing screams quite like a luxury car than headlight washers. I didn’t even realize they were there when I first engaged the washer fluid to clean up the windshield after letting it sit a few hours outside my home. I quickly peeked to the area immediately around the driver side headlight because I recognized a mist in that vicinity.

Turns out that the Lexus TX550H+ cleans up the headlights with their own personal washers, which keeps the surface clear of debris so that the headlights shine with maximum brightness. This is the kind of thing that I don’t see in most cars, so it’s definitely a feature I associate with luxury vehicles.

Dynamic radar cruise control

Gif animation of driver assist with the Lexus TX550H+.

(Image credit: Future)

There’s no denying the automotive advancements between my 15+ year old car and the Lexus TX550H+, it’s honestly night and day. Out of all the features, dynamic radar cruise control has to be what truly defines the experience of driving a luxury vehicle. After enabling it through the steering wheel controls, this feature basically takes complete control of the car — by maintaining the speed limit I set, while applying necessary acceleration and braking.

I was nervous when I first tried it, so I made sure to keep my hands barely holding onto the steering wheel as the TX550H+ drove all on its own in the highway. However, I do want to make the distinction that this is a driver assistance feature — and not one that fully automates the driving experience.

No option for a sunroof or moonroof

Lexus TX550H+ in a parking lot.

(Image credit: Future)

You’d think that a vehicle that starts off at $78,050 would have a sunroof or moonroof standard, but it doesn’t. This is the one thing that bewilders me because most people would probably think it would come with one. There isn’t an option to even get one if you really want it. For a luxury car, sunroofs and moonroofs both seem like lock-in features — so I’m really surprised here.

Hybrid mode fuel economy could be better

Lexus TX550H+ in a parking lot.

(Image credit: Future)

Seeing that it’s a hybrid vehicle, I was expecting a bit better fuel economy than its combined 29 mpg estimate. Sure, the 33 mile all-electric range is wonderful for short trips daily, but I wish the Lexus TX550H+ got closer to the 40 mpg range that I see in other SUV hybrids — like the Toyota RAV4 Prime I got to see at the New York Auto Show 2024.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.