Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV?

Jason · Nov 18, 2021 12:30 PM

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 01

If you have RM 250k or thereabouts for a premium SUV, frankly you'd be spoiled for choice, Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1 being the most obvious candidates. But how about a Japanese face-off for today? We're talking about the Toyota Harrier and Lexus UX

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 02

Yes they are cars from different segments but in terms of price, they are perilously close to each other. For this comparison, we pit the Toyota Harrier 2.0 Luxury (one variant only, RM 249,706) against the Lexus UX Urban (RM 243,888) as they are not only closely matched in price, but are running the same powertrain underneath.

So, which one is more deserving of your hard-earned money? For a start, some spec comparison.

Spec Comparison
  Toyota Harrier
2.0 Luxury
Lexus UX 
Urban
LED 
Headlamps
Yes Yes
A/C
system
Dual
Zone
Dual
Zone
Rear A/C
vents
Yes Yes
Electric
seats
Front
only
Front
only
Ventilated 
front seats
Yes No
Electric steering
adjustment
Yes No
Andoid Auto/
Apple CarPlay
Yes Yes
Panoramic
moonroof
Yes No
Airbags 7 8
AEB Yes Yes
Blind spot 
monitor
Yes No
Lane keep
assist
Yes Yes
Rear cross
traffic alert
Yes No

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 01

As you can probably tell from the comparison table above, both cars are pretty well equipped from the showroom. However, the Harrier does feel more generously stocked compared to the UX (in Urban trim, at least). If you want the fanciest gadgets for the UX, then you'd have to move up to the Luxury and F Sport variants (which inches ever closer to RM 300k). 

Exterior - Attractive in different ways

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 02

Both the Harrier and UX are pretty cars in their own right, even if their styling philosophies are a little disparate. The Harrier is more matured and sleek, one whose shape becomes more inviting the longer you look at it. Visually, the Harrier definitely looks the larger car, but overall it carries a more understated presence and reflects the audience it wants to appeal to.

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 03

Tail lamps that ooze class

As we mentioned in our Harrier review before, the proportions of the car is bang on the money, but our favourite angle is definitely the rear end. The way the angles from the bootlid taper off to the tail lamps are just delightful, one you can't stop looking at. Attractive? You bet.

2020 Lexus UX 200 Exterior

On the other hand, UX looks sportier and youthful, and carries Lexus' signature spindle grille with vim and verve, albeit in a more compact package (it is the smaller car). The UX blends the best of SUV and hatchback proportions into a really attractive shape. Of the two cars here, it's the more eye-catching one.

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 05

Where the Harrier has gentle, organic curves, the UX shows off bold, angular lines that span the length of the car. Just like the Harrier, the rear end of the UX is also pretty special, with a full-length LED light bar giving it proper presence at night. It's distinctive and unmistakable. That's something you want if you're gonna shell out RM 243k for one. 

Interior - Harrier tasteful, UX vibrant

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 06

White backlighting on the intstrument panel, blue everywhere else....

The cabin of the Harrier is a great place to lounge. It feels high quality and you won't feel shortchanged for your RM 249k. Material selection is commendable, fit and finish is tight. There are classy touches in and around the cabin, our favourite detail being the Harrier bird motif engraved into the front door cards and the electrochromic moonroof. Just lovely.

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 07

Harrier bird motif adorns the door trim, classy

Overall, you'd find very little reason to find fault with it, but find fault we did. The interior lighting is a mish-mash of white and blue hues, when it should really be one consistent colour. Moreover, the floating infotainment stack comes off a bit low-rent and crusty, in comparison to the rest of the premium-feeling interior. 

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 08

Feels more special than the Harrier, but a bit more snug

Jumping from the Harrier into the UX, its compact size is readily apparent. However, it does feel a bit more special inside, with Lexus touches elevating the ambience, despite this not being the range topper. The design and perceived quality of the UX's cabin is top-notch, nothing feels cheap or sub-par (yes, even the infotainment stack feels nicely integrated!). 

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 09

UX's infotainment stack better integrated and looks more classy

You don't get the F Sport's fancy instrument cluster in the Urban variant, but overall the UX's interior is vibrant, and typically Lexus-premium. Dislikes? The UX does feel a tad cramped inside, plus the lack of cubbies and storage solutions. As we have seen, being a compact car is no excuse as we have seen similarly-sized cars with far more spacious cabins. 

2020 Lexus UX 200 Interior Space

The UX's rear quarters is a touch cramped

Both SUVs possess wonderful cabins, though you get the feeling that the Harrier will pamper its occupants a little better, because of the extra room it affords. 

Driving experience - Harrier is more balanced, UX nimble and darty

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 11

Get behind the wheel and you'll find that the Harrier delivers goes about its business in a relaxed manner. The 2.0-litre Dynamic Force engine (173 PS, 203 Nm) and Direct Shift CVT combo is easygoing and doesn't like to be hurried. However, you just can't escape the feeling that it can do with a little bit more grunt. 

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 12

M20A-FKS 2.0-litre is smooth, but a bit lethargic in the Harrier

That feeling is amplified when you show the Harrier a nice stretch of roads. The handling is really sweet, despite its size. The chassis flows with the driver and there is real connection with the texture of the road surface. In an SUV. Genuinely mind blowing. But can we please have the 2.5-litre engine (207 PS, 243 Nm) and 8-speed automatic combo from the 2020 Toyota RAV4?

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 13

Piloting the UX, immediately it feels more sprightly when you put your foot down (it is the lighter car, after all). The same powertrain combo as seen in the Harrier (171 PS, 205 Nm) is a better match for the UX's chassis, putting down its power in a much more incisive manner. 

2020 Lexus UX 200 Exterior

The more urgent power delivery is matched by a darty chassis. Whatever the Harrier can do, the UX's chassis can do in a more nimble and lively fashion. It's very composed and chuckable at the same time. Is it more fun than the Harrier? Yes. It's not day-and-night better, but the UX is the more ebullient of the two. 

Ride comfort - UX rides admirably, but Harrier is superior

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 15

The Harrier's relaxed gait is further magnified by its superb ride quality. When traversing typical Malaysian roads (that is to say, pockmarked with ruts and potholes), the Harrier deals with imperfections in a calm and collected manner. Not much will jar the Harrier's ride, and as such travelling in one is a first-class experience. 

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 16

Trailing wishbone blesses UX with examplary ride, only bettered by the Harrier

What about the UX then? Well, in isolation, it still rides with examplary suppleness and composure. Just that, with its shorter wheelbase, it does feel a bit more busy when experienced back to back with the Harrier. The UX rides the best in its class, but the Harrier shades it in this comparison. 

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 17

The Harrier's rear seats are perfect for any journey

Furhermore, your passengers would be happier in the Harrier, not just because of the suspension tuning but also the leg and head room it affords. Both SUVs possess superb insulation, isolating you from the outside world in a womb-like manner, although there is a soft but noticeable buffeting noise from the Harrier's front quarter windows. 

Conclusion

Premium yet reliable, Toyota Harrier vs Lexus UX - Which is your perfect SUV? 18

Though they may share the same drivetrain, the divergent characters of the Toyota Harrier and Lexus UX means that their appeal is to vastly different audiences. The Harrier is perfect for a more matured shopper who is looking for a family SUV that goes about its business in a supremely quiet, comfortable and understated manner, all while packing graceful and elegant looks into the equation. 

2020 Lexus UX 200 Exterior

L for Luxury, L for Lexus

The Lexus UX meanwhile, is aimed at a younger audience who is after a car that not only draws attention, but also brings a slick driving experience, with premium embellishments that really elevate the ownership experience. And also, one that carries the prestige of a Lexus badge no less. 

Jason

Road Test Editor

Jason's foremost passion is all things automotive, where he spent his formative working years as a Product Planner and Trainer. An Advanced Driving Instructor by training and an all-round enthusiast, Jason loves going into intricate details about driving dynamics. Will drive anything with 4 wheels and a steering.

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