Lexus sells some sporty, fun-to-drive cars, but the 2022 RX isn't one of them. Despite its aggressive styling and available F Sport model, the RX is a big softie that delivers a creamy ride and two fuel-efficient powertrain offerings. A 3.5-liter V-6 is standard, but you can upgrade to a hybrid powertrain that makes 308 horsepower and delivered 31 mpg highway during our testing. The standard RX is a two-row, five-seat affair, but there's also an extended-length L model that seats up to seven riders across three rows. Inside, the RX offers a plush cabin with plenty of technology features and premium finishes appropriate for this segment of compact luxury SUVs. If you're looking for smooth-riding luxury with a practical twist, the RX is a great option, but there's more fun to be had with one of the Lexus's European rivals.
What's New for 2022?
The RX receives only minor changes for 2022, including newly standard fog lamps and a trio of new colors—Cloudburst Gray, Iridium, and Grecian Water. The Black Line special edition models return for 2022 with another 2500 limited examples all sporting darkened exterior trim, black wheels, and a matching Zero Halliburton luggage set.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The F Sport models look the coolest, in our opinion, so we'd go with a lightly optioned RX350 F Sport. Of the RX's many option packages, we'd keep it simple and add only the Navigation package; it features a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display, in-dash navigation, a DVD/CD player, and a 12-speaker audio system. Lexus hasn't released official pricing yet, so we've estimated that above.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Buyers can have their RX in two distinct flavors: Models badged RX350 are powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 while the RX450h comes with the V-6 plus two electric motors. Our RX350 test vehicle was equipped with all-wheel drive and managed an adequate—but slow for the segment—run of 6.9 seconds from zero to 60 mph. The RX450h is one of the segment's few hybrids, but it too required longer than average to reach 60 mph from rest. What the RX does best is ride comfortably; it irons out rough stretches of road and delivers a compliant ride. The cabin remains quiet and well isolated from the road, making the RX an excellent long-distance cruiser.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Fuel efficiency is where the RX shines, and not just because it's offered with an optional hybrid powertrain that's rated as high as 31 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The nonhybrid RX350 doesn't look all that efficient on paper, with front-wheel-drive models earning ratings of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. In the real world, however, both the RX350 and the RX450h outperformed their EPA ratings, with each posting 31 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test. For more information about the RX's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Lexus has chosen fine materials for the RX's interior, including soft leather, textured metallic or wood trims, and soft-touch plastics. The driving position is comfortable and easy to settle into, but the interior is marred by a few ergonomic missteps: The tuning knob for the radio is a long, awkward reach from the driver's seat, and the infotainment system is operated by an irritatingly inaccurate controller just aft of the shifter. Luckily, Lexus has added touchscreen capability to the RX's infotainment system. While it's not quite the cargo-hauling champ, the RX came close, holding just one less carry-on suitcase behind its rear seats than the victorious Cadillac XT5. With its second row folded—a process done either from the side door or from the cargo area—the RX matched the XT5 with 24 cases. Folding the seats does not yield a completely flat load floor.
Infotainment and Connectivity
We found the Enform infotainment system difficult to use while driving, but it comes standard with many of the automotive world's most modern and sought-after features: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and onboard Wi-Fi are all included. An 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, but upgrading to the 12.3-inch display not only provides a wider viewing screen, it also adds in-dash navigation, a 12-speaker audio system (a nine-speaker setup is standard), a DVD/CD player, and access to the Lexus Enform App Suite. This collection of apps provides access to emergency assistance as well as limited internet connectivity from the infotainment system. A 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system is also optional, as is a rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headphones and dual 11.6-inch monitors.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Standard driver-assistance features add more incentive to buy, but a more comprehensive offering of standard driver aids could move the RX higher in this segment. For more information about the RX's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Lexus offers a limited warranty that matches most of its rivals in this segment and a powertrain warranty that surpasses many. Hybrid components get longer coverage; however, complimentary scheduled maintenance lasts only one year, whereas the XT5 and the Volvo XC60 both offer lengthier terms.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
- Hybrid components are covered for 8 years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles
More Features and Specs
2021 Lexus RX 450h review: Comfortable if not classy
Hybrid versions of the RX come standard with all-wheel drive, but this example is also fitted with the F Sport package, which includes dress-up items like a unique grille, aluminum pedal covers, 20-inch wheels and even performance dampers. For extra sportiness, a $970 handling package is also offered, bringing an adaptive suspension system, retuned power steering and more goodies to the table. Beyond those F Sport upgrades, my tester features the Black Line Special Edition package. The good news is this upgrade costs just $685 and includes special body-side graphics, a black grille surround and a Halliburton Edge lightweight two-piece luggage set. The bad news is the Black Line Special Edition package is limited to just 750 gas-powered RXs and 250 hybrid models.
The Lexus RX's styling is certainly aggressive, with its comically large grille, angular headlamps and chiseled surfacing, but its interior is much more restrained and pleasant. The cabin's quality is stellar and its materials are generally very good. The headliner and roof pillars are wrapped in a flannel-like fabric, soft plastics are used liberally throughout and nearly all the switches and knobs feel slickly lubricated. Sure, you'll find a smattering of Toyota-sourced buttons here and there; stuff you get in, say, a Camry, but these carryover controls are well hidden and hardly objectionable.
Just behind this Lexus' unusually deep dashboard, the front bucket chairs are all-day comfortable and attractive, rendered in black and white with contrasting blue stitching, a combo that's also part of the Black Line Special Edition package. Storage space up front is good, consisting of a decently sized bin under the center armrest, a few other small cubbies on the console and generously proportioned front door pockets that pop outward when you pull on them. Moving rearward, the RX's backseat is nearly sprawl-out spacious, with plenty of legroom and a decent amount of noggin space. Comfortable cushions provide great support, with the lower one being a nice distance above the floor for a chair-like seating position. Providing easy access, this Lexus' rear doors open nice and wide.
But now for some bad news. If there's a worse infotainment system than what's offered in this Lexus, I'm not aware of it. With a bewildering user interface as well as a clunky and difficult-to-use control pad on the console, this multimedia system is half laptop, half low-end Android tablet and all kinds of terrible. Not only is the menu structure confusing, the track pad you use to navigate through it is kludgy, making even simple tasks a distracting chore. Rubbing salt in the wound, this RX 450h is also fitted with the top-shelf 12.3-inch screen (an 8-incher is standard), which is bundled in a $3,365 options package, so you're paying thousands more for an awful experience. At least that outlay also gets you embedded navigation and a superb Mark Levinson sound system that makes even highly compressed MP3s and muddy satellite radio come alive. While a bit of a reach, the RX's infotainment screen is touch-enabled, so you can skip the trackpad, but only if your arms are lanky enough. Thankfully, this system also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (as well as Amazon Alexa), so you don't have to use the infotainment system any longer than it takes to plug your phone in. The vehicle's six USB ports ensure everyone's mobile devices are fully juiced; a wireless charging pad is also available.
The Lexus RX was updated in 2020, gaining a stiffened structure and revised suspension for better handling. This year, the vehicle gains some new technology, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, both of which are now standard across the range. Auto-dimming, power-folding mirrors are included at no extra charge, too, as is Lexus Safety System Plus 2.0, a suite of driver aids that includes daytime cyclist detection, low-light pedestrian detection, road sign recognition and lane-keeping assist. Thankfully, I havenot had an opportunity to test the pedestrian-detecting systems, but the lane-keeping aid is gentle yet quite effective.
Underway, the RX 450h is one smooth operator. Whether you're traversing frost-heaved highways, tiptoeing along a cratered dirt road or just cruising around your subdivision, this Lexus' ride is always sinuous. Even rolling on 20-inch wheels, small expansion joints barely register and larger impacts are easily deflected, all with no harshness or gritty vibration percolating through to the passenger compartment. Despite its smooth ride, the RX 450h's body is decently controlled. Sure, it could feel a bit tighter in corners and it might be nice if the steering were quicker and heftier, but the whole chassis feels so well balanced that these changes aren't necessary, plus they might ruin the fluffy ride, which would be a shame.
Matching its over-the-road refinement, the RX's cabin remains incredibly silent, quieter than naptime in a nursing home, with almost no wind, tire or engine noise being heard. The RX 450h's hybrid powertrain is built around a 3.5-liter V6, one augmented by two electric motor-generators up front that form a continuously variable transmission, and a separate motor at the rear, which provides all-wheel drive. Whispering while it works, this arrangement provides a net 308 horsepower, though a torque figure is not listed because the math with hybrids is weird. On its own, however, the V6 engine whips up 247 pound-feet of twist. The RX 450h's easy handling and all-wheel drive add immensely to my confidence one day as the weather goes from drab to dangerous, with a winter storm dumping sleet on the roadways.
Stand on the accelerator and this Lexus scoots. Performance, while not awe-inspiring, is still very good, the engine sounding like it's operating far off in the distance rather than a few inches ahead of your toes. The hybrid parts of this drivetrain are similarly polished, barely drawing any attention to themselves. The brake pedal is also friendly, with a seamless transition between regenerative and friction braking. For added versatility, the RX 450h offers an EV mode, which allows you to run it solely on electrons. The onboard battery pack has enough juice for you to sneak down a cul-du-sac or into the garage without running the engine, but as soon as you go too fast or prod the throttle too aggressively the engine fires up. Remember, this is not a plug-in hybrid, so electric-only range is not the primary focus.
Cutting fuel consumption, however, is one of this Lexus' main objectives. Expect 31 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on highway drives. In mixed use, the RX 450h should return 30 mpg, however, in the real world I only average around 25.1, a disappointing score. It's typically a breeze to meet or even exceed advertised fuel-economy scores in Toyota hybrids, which makes this performance (or lack thereof) a bit of a surprise.
With its upscale interior, refined manners and, yes, unfortunate infotainment tech, a base 2021 Lexus RX 450h starts at just shy of $49,000, including $1,025 in destination fees. That's about $2,650 more than an entry-level, front-wheel-drive, non-hybrid RX 350. As it sits, this F Sport example checks out for $59,380, a figure goosed by a few add-ons like a $200 wireless charger, $640 heated and ventilated front seats, $1,365 for parking assist and a 360-degree camera system, plus a few additional goodies. Still, that outlay gets you a family-friendly vehicle that's more docile and refined than the sportier Acura MDX and, thanks to its aggressive styling (which you may or may not love), more visually interesting than a Lincoln Nautilus or Mercedes-Benz GLC.
There's an abundance of luxury crossovers available today, great examples from German, American and Asian automakers. Plenty of them offer upscale interiors and loads of fancy features, but few are as refined, fuel efficient -- and in one particular way -- frustrating as this mostly likable Lexus.
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2021 Lexus RX450hL Review
The 2021Lexus RX450hL is the range-topping variant of the Japanese luxury brand’s large SUV line-up.
The RX nameplate has been around since 1998 and the current fourth-generation ‘AL20’ model was first shown to the world in 2015, before the model we’re testing was updated late in 2019.
The mid-life update to the Lexus RX brought a range of connectivity and safety technology improvements, as well as changes for better noise insulation and driving dynamics.
The Lexus RX450hL competes in a crowded space against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5, Audi Q7 and the Genesis GV80.
It has the benefit of a proven V6 hybrid powertrain and it comes with a lot of features standard, including seven seats, but despite the update it’s showing its age.
How does it stack up as a luxury family SUV against its German rivals?
How much does the Lexus RX450hL cost?
Prices for the 2021 Lexus RX range start with the RX300 Luxury at $71,920 before on-road costs, a reduction of $1600 over the previous model. The updated RX we’re testing here is the Lexus RX450hL Sport Luxury, which comes in at $111,070 before on-road costs.
For us, the sweet spot in the range feels like the RX350 which starts at $81,890 before on-roads for the base Luxury, meaning you are paying $9000+ more for the equivalent 450h variants to add the hybrid drivetrain to the same petrol engine.
There’s a roughly $3000 upcharge to get an additional two seats to make the RX a seven-seater and give you that ‘L’ designation.
Lexus offers one main option, called the Enhancement Pack (EP) which costs differing amounts depending on variant.
Full price range below:
- RX300 Luxury: $71,920
- RX300 Luxury + EP: $77,950
- RX300 F Sport: $86,800
- RX300 Sports Luxury: $92,700
- RX350 Luxury: $81,890
- RX350 Luxury + EP: $86,390
- RX350 F Sport: $93,970
- RX350 Sports Luxury: $99,870
- RX450h Luxury: $91,090
- RX450h Luxury + EP: $95,590
- RX450h F Sport: $103,440
- RX450h Sports Luxury: $109,340
- RX350L Luxury: $85,000
- RX350L Luxury + EP: $88,500
- RX350L Sports Luxury: $101,600
- RX450hL Luxury: $94,470
- RX450hL Luxury + EP: $97,970
- RX450hL Sports Luxury: $111,070
All prices exclude on-road costs
What do you get?
Part of the mid-life update for the Lexus RX range, including the RX450hL tested here, is a minor revision to the design of the SUV itself.
Although you have to really look to tell the difference between the new and pre-facelift models, on closer inspection you’l notice a revised front bumper that has a distinctly different integration with the lower door area, while the rear bumper has also seen some minor changes, and there’s revised L-shaped tail lights.
Additionally, the lower edge of the new spindle grille has been modified with a more pronounced profile. The headlights have also been revised; they’re now a little narrower with built-in LED daytime running lights that form a single bar of light instead of the dot-like LEDs as before.
Styling changes aside, Lexus now also offers additional technological features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s also a 12.3-inch screen across the range (base models previously had an 8.0-inch display) with touch functionality, four new USB ports (total of six), and enhanced active safety.
Other features on the 450h include 20-inch alloy wheels (18-inch on the RX300 Luxury), real leather-accented seat upholstery, front seat memory functions with ‘easy access’ on unlock, and heated/ventilated front seats.
Finally, new features include the front cornering lamps and the hands-free kick sensor for the power-operated tailgate.
Is the Lexus RX450h safe?
The short answer is yes. Tested back in 2015, the Lexus RX received a five-star safety rating from ANCAP.
As part of the mid-life refresh, the Lexus Safety System suite has gained night-time pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection for the pre-collision safety system and autonomous emergency braking.
It also has a pretty handy feature to stop you hitting things when you’re parking, which is exactly the sort of tool you need for a happy marriage.
What is the Lexus RX450h like on the inside?
It feels a bit old. That’s the best way to put it. The location of the infotainment screen is so far back and, while the the screen resolution itself is not too bad, the software driving it is extremely ordinary.
Lexus has for decades suffered from poor infotainment systems and software, and the RX really takes the cake despite an update to the screen. Having CarPlay means you can ignore the native software, but that’s no real excuse.
We also found the display sits quite far behind the screen and doesn’t deal very well with sun glare.
Infotainment complaints aside, it’s actually a very solid and well-built car. The leather and the way the cabin comes together is nicely done, though the design and ambience in general is feeling a generation or two out of date.
In fact, the leather Lexus uses is far nicer to touch and feel than what the Germans have to offer, but the buttons and the technology that you have to interact with now feel two generations out of date.
It has a CD player. That’s a sentence we felt required writing. But it’s simple things like the buttons, or the reversing camera which are insanely low quality (even if the 360 camera is pretty good). All these little things really add up to take away from what would otherwise be a very nice place to sit.
There was a time where we would say the interior feels a little bit too much like a Toyota, but really the issue with the Lexus RX’s interior is that it simply doesn’t feel like a current-generation Lexus model like the ES or UX.
The Lexus RX is super quiet and very plush, the wooden steering wheel gives it that extra sense of luxury over all else. It’s an ideal daily and the sort of car you definitely want to drive long distance.
The 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is extraordinarily good and we could almost deal with the rubbish default infotainment system just because of how amazing the sound quality is inside the cabin.
We found the front and rear seats super comfortable and supportive. You can easily fit three kids in the back or two adults, but it’s just not wide enough to fit three average-sized adults for long drives.
There is plenty of interior storage spaces and USB ports (no USB-C, however) to keep the kids happy.
The third row is definitely just for kids, probably no older than 10. It also feels a little claustrophobic, so while it’s a seven-seater on paper, it’s not a proper third-row seat that you want to have kids in as a permanent solution. Unless they are naughty kids.
It would also be nice if the sunroof extended past the front seats and all the way across the whole cabin.
The boot is relatively spacious at 506 litres, although we found the lip can be a little high for large things like prams. Handy that it now opens automatically with a wave.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Lexus RX450hL makes use of the same 3.5-litre direct-injection V6 petrol engine from the RX350, with standalone outputs of 193kW and 335Nm in hybrid guise.
But for roughly $9000 extra, you get the Lexus Hybrid System bringing the total power output to 230kW.
Unlike newer Toyota/Lexus models, the RX uses an old-school nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery that, when coupled to the electric powertrain, has a theoretical power output of 123kW (335Nm) to the front and 50kW (139Nm) to the rear.
It doesn’t really feel like it has that much power and torque though, and that probably has something to do with the extra 130kg of weight the RX450hL has over the RX350L.
The transmission is an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is really where the Lexus falls short compared to its German rivals that offer ZF eight-speed automatics.
How does the Lexus RX450h drive?
The Lexus RX450hL drives like you’d expect from a brand that is all about smoothness and luxury. It’s a little soulless, but that’s okay.
Being behind the wheel of this Japanese SUV is a soothing experience. It’s so quiet and refined. You can hardly hear anything outside and, with the stereo turned up and the kids playing on their iPads in the back seat, you can truly get lost in your own little world.
The update to the RX has made the suspension a little more supple, almost to the point that it’s too soft, but in a good way. It does tend to lean a bit more than, say a BMW X5, but as a result it also absorbs poor-quality roads with far more grace. For its intended purpose, it’s an ideal setup.
Power from the engine is actually pretty decent and the RX450hL really does get up and go. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even sound that bad!
The driver assistance features are also up to scratch, as we found both the active lane assist and head-up display to be effective in their intended purpose. But as previously mentioned, the reversing camera is very poor in resolution and clarity which is a big bummer.
During our week long test of city and highway driving, we managed an indicated 8.6L/100km, which is a fair bit higher than the 6.0L/100km quoted by Lexus.
It’s worth nothing here this is an older generation of hybrid. Several Toyota and Lexus models have switched from nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries to lithium along with new ‘Dynamic Force’ engines, the RX tested here is still stuck with old tech.
It really begs the question, why not just buy the RX350 and save $9000?
How much does the Lexus RX450h cost to run?
The RX line-up is covered by the company’s four-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the same period.
Lexus offers capped-priced servicing for all its models sold from 2020 onwards for the first three years.
As such, the Lexus RX450hL costs $595 a service, bringing the three-year maintenance figure to $1785.
CarExpert’s Take on the Lexus RX450h
We love the Lexus RX range for providing a super luxurious ride in a pretty crowded luxury SUV market.
It lacks the sporty feel of the German offerings and definitely does not compete with newer rivals when it comes to technology.
Nonetheless, it’s a Lexus, which means it’s super comfortable, extremely well built and will be unlikely to ever give you a headache. Sometimes, that’s enough of a reason to buy one.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Lexus RX news, reviews, comparisons and videos
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450hl 2021 review rx lexus
2021 Lexus RX450hL Luxury review
Like most SUV categories on sale in Australia, there’s no shortage of choice in the large premium SUV segment.
The Lexus RX trades in this space, and while not representing the traditional German brand of luxury that many flock to for high-riding grandeur, the Lexus RX still trades punches in the sales race amongst the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Audi Q7.
It finished 2020 as the third best-seller in its segment, beaten by the Mercedes GLE and BMW X5.
It’s a respectable result, considering it jumped from sixth best-selling the year before, but what’s the drive behind the come-from-behind strong sales showing?
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The allure of reliability and serviceability might have something to do with it or the fact that it’s one of just a few premium large SUVs to offer seven seats.
It also received a light refresh in 2020 which saw technical and mechanical upgrades applied to the five-year-old platform.
With this in mind, I saddled up in a high-spec RX450hL Luxury over the holiday break to find out what this German alternative offers premium SUV buyers.
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Price and value
The Lexus RX SUV range is expansive. Not only is there a choice of three engines, but each engine variant can also be had with a choice of three trim levels and the two more expensive powertrains can be had in seven-seat guise.
Our tester is an RX450hL Luxury, the seven-seat version of the high-end powertrain. With Luxury trim level (which is standard), this car is $95,888 (before on-road costs).
Considering the range begins at just over $70,000 and stretches to over $110,000, the RX450hL is in the upper-middle segment of Lexus’ pricing scheme.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, our car also had a $3500 enhancement pack (which adds a sunroof and colour head-up display) and $1500 Graphite Black paint which pushed it to a $100,888 (before ORCs) as-tested price.
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As a base, the Luxury variant features appointments such as a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, 12-speaker sound system, digital radio, wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated power front seats, leather-accented upholstery, powered steering column and a queuing adaptive cruise control system.
It misses out on items like adaptive sports suspension, panoramic parking cameras, 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and wood trim inserts which are all reserved for the Sports Luxury trim grade.
Power is drawn from a 3.5-litre hybrid six-cylinder engine, the most powerful of three petrol engines options for the RX range.
That engine sees it priced well into premium territory, though few others can claim hybrid powertrains for a comparable price.
The Volvo XC90 T8 costs $114,990 (before on-road costs) and BMW’s X5 xDrive45e will set you back $133,900 (before ORCs) for similar tech.
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Living with the Lexus RX450hL
The lasting impression that I am left with after spending time in the RX450hL is one of supreme comfort.
In this tester’s opinion, Lexus does some of the best standard specification seats in the automotive business and the RX450hL was no exception.
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The seats are soft and supportive (even on long journeys), the carpet is thick and plush, and electric-adjustment convenience for the seats and steering wheel made re-acclimatising to the big SUV a breeze.
So too, the seats’ ventilation/heating feature are a welcome inclusion for summertime road trips, and the extensive tri-zone climate control system (which third-row seaters can control for themselves) keep the cabin comfortable at the requested temperature.
The cabin stocks a number of storage spots; door bins extend for larger bottles, two cupholders in the centre console are handy for keys and wallets and there’s a wireless charging tray aft of the shifter.
There’s also an upright cushioned slot for your phone next to the shifter.
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Featuring items like keyless entry and start, powered tailgate, powered third-row seating deployment, privacy glass, satellite navigation and digital radio, the RX450hL is a well-equipped SUV and makes spending time in the cabin a breeze.
A lot of criticism is thrown Lexus’ way for its persistence with its touchpad-controller which guides the 12.3-inch infotainment screen.
It’s not the most intuitive system to use, especially while trying to change radio stations while on the move, for example, though you do get used to the controls in time.
If it does turn into a bugbear, rest assured that the screen is now touch-sensitive, which comes in handy to control Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 12-speaker sound system paired to the infotainment system was adequate, though I would kick myself for not getting the fantastic Mark Levinson 15-speaker system – which only comes as part of the more expensive Sports Luxury model grade.
There’s a wide view and narrow view reversing camera to help guide you backwards, but both are low-resolution displays which is a shame to see on a high-end product.
Surround-view 360-degree cameras are available, but only on higher-spec cars.
Space-wise, there’s a great amount of room in the first row with enough adjustment to get a good, high driving position.
On that, vision is great from the driver’s seat, with enough glass around to comfortably see out in order to guide the big car in town.
MORE30 years of Lexus Australia: a brief history of the marque30 years of Lexus Australia: a brief history of the marque
Second-row passengers are also well-catered to. The seats fold in a 60/40 fashion and slide back and forward as such; but there’s also good foot, head and knee room across the second bench.
Getting into the third row is a bit tricky for taller adults – the experience is best reserved for kids or your least-liked adults.
It’s better described as a five-plus-two seating arrangement, only reserved for the odd occasion where capacity exceeds five.
The roof is sculpted for decent headroom, but knee space is tight and you’re unlikely to fit without moving the second row forward.
With the third row up, there’s still a good-sized 176 litres of boot space for a couple of backpacks. Put the third row down and that number grows to 432 litres.
This space can be accessed through a power-operated boot which can be opened with a wave of your foot under the bumper, but I could never make it work and ended up looking a fool in front of friends.
On the whole, the cabin is a well-equipped and comfortable place to spend time whether it’s a long trip or short city jaunt.
While there’s little in the way of thrills, such as accented trim or ambient lighting, the materials used throughout are pliant and yet hard-wearing.
Engine, transmission and drivetrain
As the most economical Lexus RX, the 450h features a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid engine with a 650-volt battery system and twin electric motors. Collectively, it outputs a combined 230kW/335Nm.
Power is sent through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which has six stepped ratios (can be changed via paddle shifters) and traction is handled through a part-time all-wheel-drive system which favours the front axle.
Lexus says the RX450hL will return a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.0L/100km in an ideal scenario, though I never saw less than 8.2L/100km.
This is still a respectable result, but carting around a hefty 2235kg (tare) of weight does take its toll.
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Driving the Lexus RX450hL
Despite the most-powerful 230kW/335Nm powertrain, that weight does make itself known when driving the RX450hL.
It’s not a particularly slow car – it can run from zero to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds – but after an initial off-the-line kick thanks immediate electric torque, it does run out of puff when you need to accelerate up to speed.
This is most commonly felt when overtaking on a freeway or merging, an annoyance I became accustomed to when driving down the M1 freeway towards the Victorian Surf Coast.
While the naturally-aspirated RX350 isn’t as powerful as the hybrid RX450h, crucially, the 350 feels faster because of its 370Nm torque figure.
Its fuel-saving benefits notwithstanding, the powertrain does feel somewhat underdone for a large seven-seat premium SUV. It stings when a number of competitors use turbocharged technology, too.
That said, its naturally-aspirated/CVT combo does make it exceptionally smooth to drive.
The transition from electric to petrol power is unnoticeable and it pulls you comfortably up to speed, as one would expect from a Lexus.
There is the option to drive on full electric power, though only when the car’s energy reserves are full and only up to 40km/h or so before it reverts to petrol power.
Much like its plush carpet and soft seats, the RX450hL’s ride profile is extremely comfortable in all situations.
Around town, it negotiates speed bumps and potholes with ease, and further afield it smooths over pockmarked roads and large bumps without fuss.
That soft suspension tune does cause it to roll around a bit as you round corners, but not worryingly-so – it is a large seven-seat SUV after all.
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Its feather-light steering makes city driving and parking a simple manoeuvre, and manages to retain enough feel to let you know what’s under the tyres when driving rural.
Comfort and convenience is key in the RX450hL, two attributes it delivers in spades.
How safe is the Lexus RX450hL?
Each RX comes standard with the Lexus Safety Suite+ which includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane trace assist, blind-spot monitor with rear-cross traffic alert, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control with queuing function, tyre pressure monitoring and ten airbags.
It misses out on a four-camera panoramic view camera and adaptive high beam system which are reserved for the more expensive Sports Luxury spec.
The Lexus RX was last safety tested by ANCAP in 2015 when it scored five stars, though no updated rating has been given for this car; the facelifted seven-seat version.
How much does it cost to run the Lexus RX450hL?
The RX450hL is covered with a four-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Capped-price servicing is on offer. It needs to be serviced every 12 months or 15,000km, with each trip costing $595.
Though it does use less fuel than its sub-spec RX350 sibling, we analysed the cost/benefit outcome last year and discovered it would take a long time before the added cost in purchase price would be amortised through fewer visits to the petrol pump.
Read through our long-term loan report for the full run-down.
A decent benefit of Lexus ownership is the Encore program which offers a number of benefits like service loan cars, hotel offers, exclusive events and fuel discounts.
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As a comfortable cruising SUV, the RX450hL delivers in its brief and then some.
It might not have the bells and whistles of its rivals, but what it does offer is a great set of baseline features and space that will make an ownership experience pleasant.
As consumers turn towards hybrid and electric powertrains in the future, the Lexus RX450hL offers a fuel-saving option that’s not really matched by anything within its competitive subset.
After its most recent 2019/20 update that genuine brought tech, safety and dynamic enhancement, it’s little wonder how the RX was able to jump from sixth best-seller to third in the space of a year.
Plus Superb ride, spacious/comfortable cabin (for all but third row!), great feature set
Minus Lacklustre powertrain, hybrid power sees little real-world benefit, cabin doesn’t feel special
Model Lexus RX450hL
Engine 3456cc 6cyl, dohc, hybrid
Max power 230kW @ 6000rpm
Max torque 335Nm @ 4600rpm
0-100km/h 7.7sec (claimed)
Economy 8.2L/100km (tested)
On sale Now
Click through the photo gallery at the top of this story for more images of the Lexus RX450hL.
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2021 Lexus RX 450h Review – A victim of its own success
The RX, Lexus likes to remind us, helped invent the luxury crossover SUV category, but lately it’s struggling to avoid being eclipsed by the rivals it inspired. The 2021 RX 450h F Sport AWD is the automaker’s answer, combining its eye-catching style with what have long been the Lexus hallmarks of refined road manners and a plush cabin.
Time has dulled the shock-factor of the RX’s oversized “spindle” grille, leaving it to aesthetic preference. My particular test car was the Black Line Special Edition, a limited run of the SUV with a black grille surround and side graphics, 20-inch black wheels, and blue contrast stitching in the interior. Otherwise, though, this is the familiar F Sport, which normally comes with 20-inch wheels and grey exterior trim.
Lexus doesn’t offer a plug-in hybrid or full electric version of the RX yet. The RX 450h pairs a 3.5-liter gas V6 with a hybrid drive system, charging up the SUV’s battery using regenerative braking or spare engine power. All-wheel drive is standard on the hybrid, Lexus using electric motors to give the rear wheels their traction, and you get a system-total of 308 horsepower, which is ample but not outlandish.
With a relatively small battery and no plug-in ability, it’s clear the RX 450h doesn’t prioritize electric-only use. There is an EV mode, which Lexus bills as allowing you to “drive short distances at low speeds.” That’s a pretty accurate description, too: graze the accelerator with anything but the lightest foot and the gas engine will kick in, and even if you show sufficient restraint you won’t get far before you run out of electrons.
Better, then, to think of the hybrid system as smoothing out the RX’s laissez-faire driving style, and – in theory – helping a little with economy. This may be an F Sport – complete with sport-tuning for the suspension – but really the Lexus prefers to waft. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is good evidence of that; there are paddle shifters, but most of the time it’s easiest just to let the Lexus slush through things of its own accord.
The upshot there is, despite the big wheels, ride quality is just swell. Road and other noise are held at bay nicely, as is imperfect asphalt, and you can summon the hybrid drive for a quick blast of straight-line acceleration when it comes to overtaking. The suspension tweaks don’t really add up to great cornering prowess, however, and were it my money I would probably skip the F Sport package altogether and let the RX fully embrace its true roots as an SUV that pampers.
As for frugality, according to the EPA you can expect 30 mpg combined, 31 mpg in the city, or 28 mpg on the highway. Disappintingly, though, in my regular driving I struggled to hit 24 mpg. You’ll need a particularly frugal driving style in order to make Lexus’ figures, I fear.
In the cabin, it’s a mixture of good and bad. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard; a 12.3-inch navigation system upgrade with Mark Levinson 15-speaker audio system is a $3,365 worth checking off. The driver gets a 4.2-inch cluster display, with a color head-up display (HUD) a $600 option. There’s dual-zone climate control, but heated and ventilated front seats are $640 extra. So, too, is wireless phone charging ($200) and an automatic power tailgate ($150), though a regular power tailgate if you’ll deign to press the button yourself is standard.
Either way, it reveals 16 cu-ft with the rear seats up, and 32.7 cu-ft with them down. Not bad, and the back bench is capacious for passengers too, with no complaints around legroom or headroom. Lexus does offer a slightly longer version, the RX 450hL, with a third-row, but its added seats are a piddly affair and you can find much better at rival dealerships.
On the safety tech side, Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is standard. That gets you lane-keeping assistance, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts with steering assistance, and auto high-beams. There’s also blind spot warnings and rear cross traffic alerts. $1,365 adds parking assistance and a 360-degree camera; I feel like the latter should be standard, frankly.
Out of the gate, the 2021 RX 450h F Sport clocks in at $51,200 (plus $1,025 destination). With extras, my review car climbed to $59,380 all-in. That puts it in the midst of some capable company.
Despite Lexus’ revamps, in some places the RX is starting to show its age. The instrument cluster looks dated, with a comparatively small screen when rivals offer fully-digital gauges. The switchgear can feel plasticky in places, and the heated F Sport steering wheel – a $150 option – only has its heating elements in certain parts. Nitpicking? Perhaps, but if you’re going to cosset, commit to it.
Most frustrating of all is the infotainment, though. It feels like I’ve been complaining about Lexus’ dashboard software for years now (and I’m not alone in doing so), but the underwhelming UI and annoying trackpad system remain. At a time when rival premium SUVs are delivering high-resolution graphics that run with silky ease, the RX’s Enform system looks and feels lumpen.
The good news is that there’s now a touchscreen, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Hook up your phone and you can ignore both Lexus’ software and its touchpad.
The 2022 Acura MDX has a trackpad too, but it’s a lot more user-friendly, and packaged up in an SUV that looks fresher than the Lexus and is more engaging to drive. What you’d pay for this particular RX is about the same as a 2021 Genesis GV80 3.5T AWD, meanwhile, which lays down the law in terms of cabin design and is far less polarizing outside. Neither, notably, come in an electrified form yet.
2021 Lexus RX 450h F Sport Verdict
The luxury SUV market is huge right now, and you’re spoiled for choice if you have $50-60k to spend and a desire for a capacious interior and some badge prestige. It often pays dividends to look beyond the usual German options, too, as recent launches from Acura, Genesis, Lincoln, and others offer more imaginative riffs on the segment.
That’s good news for drivers, but not so great for Lexus. The RX still does some things very well: it’s a smooth and comfortable ride, with a whisper-quiet cabin, and the hybrid system is capable and competent. All the same, it demands some compromises that rivals don’t, and that’s a fatal flaw in a category so fiercely competitive as this one – even if you did invent it.
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Two pieces per day. I dont have that kind of money, Masha cried. - I don't give a fuck.