Lexus RX review

Category: Luxury SUV

Hybrid luxury SUV offers good refinement, punchy performance and a plush interior

Lexus RX front right driving
  • Lexus RX front right driving
  • Lexus RX rear cornering
  • Lexus RX interior dashboard
  • Lexus RX interior back seats
  • Lexus RX interior infotainment
  • Lexus RX right driving
  • Lexus RX front cornering
  • Lexus RX rear left driving
  • Lexus RX alloy wheel detail
  • Lexus RX headlight detail
  • Lexus RX interior front seats
  • Lexus RX interior steering wheel detail
  • Lexus RX interior detail
  • Lexus RX interior detail
  • Lexus RX boot open
  • Lexus RX front right driving
  • Lexus RX rear cornering
  • Lexus RX interior dashboard
  • Lexus RX interior back seats
  • Lexus RX interior infotainment
  • Lexus RX right driving
  • Lexus RX front cornering
  • Lexus RX rear left driving
  • Lexus RX alloy wheel detail
  • Lexus RX headlight detail
  • Lexus RX interior front seats
  • Lexus RX interior steering wheel detail
  • Lexus RX interior detail
  • Lexus RX interior detail
  • Lexus RX boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Being ahead of your time can be tough – if you launch a revolutionary product before most buyers are ready for it, it's likely to be a flop. Luckily, the Lexus RX hybrid car has been well received over the years, despite having some notable shortcomings when it originally arrived.

You see, the RX's combination of an electrified engine and a luxury SUV body made it a pioneer. And while other car makers are still clamouring to produce rival models, this latest RX is the fourth generation to use hybrid technology.

Not to be left behind, Lexus has continued to develop the design over the years, making it comfier, quieter and even more laden with cutting-edge equipment. It says this newest version is a little more spacious and better to drive than its predecessor, with an expanded engine range to broaden its appeal.

The RX line-up is fairly straightforward, with a choice of two hybrids (the 350h and the 500h) and the 450h+ plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Four trim levels are available, ranging from suitably luxurious to full-on lavish, and the cheapest model undercuts most other luxury SUVs on price.

Over the next few pages, we’ll tell you how we rate the Lexus RX against key rivals you might be considering, including equivalent versions of the BMW X5, the Range Rover Sport and the Volvo XC90.

We’ll include what it's like to drive, how pleasant it is for passengers, what safety kit it has and whether you'll find it costly to buy and run. We'll also let you know whether it should be on your shortlist – or is best avoided altogether.

If you do decide to buy one, or indeed a vehicle of any make and model, make sure you get it for the lowest price by using What Car?'s free New Car Deals service. It lists plenty of the best new luxury SUV deals.

Overview

The RX scores well for its strong refinement, plush interior and punchy performance. Reliability will be a strong point, too, and the option of a regular hybrid is great for those without easy access to a charger. While the electric range on the plug-in hybrid version isn’t as impressive as some rivals, they also cost more.

  • Well built and well appointed inside
  • Hushed on the move
  • Strong performance
  • Rivals are better to drive
  • Takumi versions are pricey
  • PHEV's electric range isn't the best
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Our Pick

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Lexus Rx 450h+ 2.5 5dr E-CVT [Premium Pack] review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

All the engines in the Lexus RX range combine a petrol engine with an electric motor to drive the front wheels, with an additional electric motor driving the rear axle to make them four-wheel drive.

To kick things off there's the 350h hybrid which uses a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine to produce a combined output of 247bhp, for a respectable 0-62mph time of 7.9sec. It’s very pleasant to drive, with plenty of everyday performance on tap.

Then there's the 500h hybrid – the quickest and most powerful RX – with its turbocharged 2.4-litre engine, combined output of 366bhp and a 6.2sec 0-62mph time. It’s not exactly thrilling, but there’s plenty of low-down grunt and it's eager to rev, making it extremely effortless getting up to motorway speed.

Lexus RX image
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The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) RX 450h+ sits comfortably between the two, using the same engine combination as the 350h to produce a brawnier 304bhp and, in our tests, a 0-60mph time of 6.5sec. That’s slightly slower than the 6.1sec that the Range Rover Sport P440e managed on the same day and nearly two seconds slower than the BMW X5 xDrive50e’s official sprint time.

Nevertheless, the RX450h+ still feels sprightly. While the engine chips in when needed, the electric motors respond quickly to the accelerator pedal before eagerly picking up the pace and doing much of the leg work in everyday driving. Switching to Eco drive mode dampens down that immediacy, but there’s still enough poke to maintain momentum.

In our tests on a route that simulates varying driving conditions, it managed 33 miles on electricity alone, around 10 miles short of its official figure. The Range Rover Sport P440e managed 50 miles in the same test. However, while rivals run only on the petrol engine when the battery is depleted, the 450h+ can maintain enough juice in the battery for the electric motors to keep helping out in short bursts to bolster performance and fuel economy.

Higher-spec Takumi and F Sport models come with Lexus adaptive suspension, which can be stiffened or softened to suit your mood. Other models come with conventional springs.

The PHEV’s ride on conventional springs is at the firmer end of the scale, but it absorbs bumps well and remains settled most of the time. Occupants won’t be jostled around in their seats and they’ll only feel some minor fidgeting over certain sharp-edged bumps. The Range Rover Sport PHEV with air suspension is more comfortable, though.

The F Sport model is the firmest riding RX. Thankfully, it’s never harsh or violent enough for you to wince over speed bumps or large potholes, but occupants will subtly move around in their seat more. While it can struggle to settle down at low speeds, it does smooth out once you’re on a motorway.

Throw in a few corners and there’s a bit of body lean. It feels less top-heavy than the boxier Volvo XC90 but there is a hint of body movement when tackling mid-corner bumps before it settles down again. It's not unnerving, but you don't get the same effect with the best luxury SUV rivals, especially the X5. The firmer F-Sport is much more composed, keeping a tighter rein on body movements, but, again, it’s not quite as good as the sportier X5, which has better control and more grip on offer. 

The steering in the RX responds accurately and is nicely weighted, allowing you to build up a rhythm quite quickly when you encounter a series of bends. It’s more reassuring than the light steering system in the XC90. The 500h comes with four-wheel steering as standard to help it feel even more mobile.

The RX is a very relaxing place to cover long distances in. There’s hardly any wind noise, and while you tune into a minor level of road noise, that’s because you're so well isolated from other sounds.

As for the noise from under the bonnet, the RX will run almost silently when on battery power, and the changeover between electric and petrol power is hardly noticeable. Even when the engine wakes up, it remains hushed.

The 350h and 450h have CVT automatic gearboxes so the revs do soar when you put your foot down to accelerate harder, but it's nowhere near as raucous as on previous-generation versions. The 500h and its six-speed auto gearbox behaves in a conventional manner, shifting through gears before the engine becomes vocal. If you work the engine hard there is a digitised engine note piped through the speakers to add a bit of theatre. Thankfully, it’s quite subtle.

Both gearboxes do their job in a smooth manner. The 500h’s six-speed auto is quick to shift, but the responses to the steering wheel-mounted paddles – which allow you to take control of gear changes – could be quicker.

The brake pedal is consistently weighted to help slow you down smoothly, but the initial response is quite sharp and takes some getting used to. As is common with hybrids, the brakes use regenerative braking to charge the battery as you drive, but it’s very subtle in the RX, so you’ll use that brake pedal a lot.

Lexus RX rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

From behind the wheel, the Lexus RX feels luxurious, with incredibly comfortable seats, and a wide range of electric seat and steering wheel adjustment, to help you find the perfect driving position. 

You have a commanding view out, while large windows all round help visibility. The front windscreen pillars are wide, but their angle and positioning makes them easy to see around at junctions. You shouldn’t have any trouble parking, either, because all models come with front and rear parking sensors. Premium Plus Pack adds a 360-degree camera, while the top trims gain an auto-parking system.

LED headlights come as standard on all versions, with an adaptive system standard on F Sport trim and above. The adaptive system automatically shapes the light pattern to avoid dazzling other road users, allowing you to keep the main beams on.

The dashboard has been designed around the driver and puts the digital instrument panel and the centre touchscreen in your line of sight. It works well: the touchscreen is in easy reach and the raised centre console means you don’t have to reach far down for the gear lever or storage areas.

You control pretty much everything, including the climate control system, through touch and only have old-fashioned rotary dials to control the temperature. That means that it can be fairly distracting to use on the move, especially when compared with the physical controls in the Range Rover Sport

A 14in touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard, with clear graphics and a quick response. The menus take time to get used to and some of the shortcut buttons could be bigger, but thankfully it doesn’t require too many presses to find the function you want. You get built-in sat-nav, Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired), as well as wireless charging for your device and plenty of USB ports.

Top spec Takumi comes with a 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system but the standard 12-speaker stereo is clear and punchy enough.

The quality of the interior is pretty high, too. Everything is very well finished, with upmarket fixtures and fittings pretty much everywhere, lending the RX a plush feel. The choice of bright upholstery colours goes a long way to lift the ambience.

Lexus RX interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The Lexus RX comes with five seats, which is two fewer than the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 (which are seven-seaters as standard). That said, unless you need to ferry around more than four passengers, you’re not going to struggle for space.

There’s plenty of room in the front and the interior lay-out promotes a suitably airy feel. Big door pockets, multiple cupholders and storage cubbies mean you have plenty of places to put your phone, wallet and other paraphernalia.

In the back, there's loads of space for two adults, with enough leg room for a six-footer to stretch out behind another occupant in front of them. Head room is plentiful too, and while a middle passenger will sit on a slightly raised seat base, they won’t have their head pushed up against the roof lining. Leg room for the middle passenger isn’t quite as generous, due to the wide hump in the floor, but it's low and large enough to rest a foot on for short periods of time.

Rear storage space is generous, with map pockets on the backs of the front seats, door cubbies large enough for drinks bottles and a centre armrest containing a large square cubby and a pair of pop-out drinks holders.

The RX’s 461 litre boot is smaller than the ones in the Q7, the BMW X5 and the XC90. It’s quite shallow, but you do get some underfloor storage and hooks on either side, as well as a power socket. A powered tailgate comes as standard, with a gesture-controlled one on Premium Plus Pack and above.

The rear seats split 40/20/40 and can be dropped using buttons in the boot to increase the load bay area if necessary. You can also recline the back rest for additional passenger comfort or to free up a little more boot space behind.

Lexus RX interior back seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The entry-level Lexus RX costs about the same as the cheapest Audi Q7 mild-hybrid petrol, while even the RX’s highest trim levels will cost around £10,000 less than the equivalent Q7, BMW X5 or Range Rover Sport.

Company car drivers will want to go for the 450h+ plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version because its official electric-only range of 43 miles means it sits in the 8% band for benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax. Even so, it’s worth noting that the plusher Range Rover Sport’s superior electric-only range (officially 70 miles) makes that rival even cheaper, despite its higher price tag.

When it comes to charging, the 450h+ can get from 0-100% from a 7kW home charger in around three hours. The maximum charging speed of 6.6kW isn’t far off the 7.4kW of the X5 xDrive50e, but the Range Rover Sport P440e has a much higher 50kW charging capability. 

You won’t be disappointed by the amount of equipment you get on the RX. Even the entry-level Premium Pack model comes with 19in alloy wheels, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, three-zone climate control, rear privacy glass and keyless entry, plus parking aids and infotainment kit. 

We reckon it's the pick of the range, but if you don’t mind paying a bit extra, going for Premium Plus Pack trim adds ventilated front seats, a head-up display and a memory function for the driver’s seating position. 

F-Sport, which is limited to the 500h, brings a sportier appearance with 21in alloy wheels, silver pedals and a sports steering wheel. The top-spec (and pricey) Takumi trim adds automatic and remote parking, a digital rear-view mirror, and electric adjustment for the front passenger seat and rear seats.

When tested by the experts at Euro NCAP, the RX was awarded the full five star rating and scored particularly well when it came to protecting adults in the front. Indeed, it scored higher than the Range Rover Sport for adults and the same (full marks) for protecting children in the rear. 

No matter which version you go for, you get plenty of standard safety kit, including two Isofix child-seat mounts and active safety systems, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance.

If you’re looking for a trouble-free ownership experience, you’re unlikely to go wrong with an RX. Lexus always ranks highly for reliability and customer service in our surveys, and topped the chart in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey

A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is standard, which is par for the course, and can be extended for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles if you have your car serviced at a franchised dealer every 12 months or 10,000 miles. The hybrid components and battery are covered for five years or 60,000 miles.

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Lexus RX interior infotainment

FAQs

  • No. The RX L seven-seater will not be replaced with a new-generation version. To read about the pros and cons of getting a used RX L, see our 2016-2022 Lexus RX review.

  • The cheapest RX – the 350h hybrid in Premium Pack trim – costs around £60,000. If you want the plug-in hybrid (PHEV), be prepared to pay nearly 10% more. You can check the latest prices by using our New Car Deals pages.

  • The RX name stands for Radiant Crossover. The Radiant part was intended to signify the original car’s bright future when it was launched by Lexus.

  • The RX is longer and taller than the Lexus NX. As a result, you have more space in the rear for passengers, as well as a larger boot.

At a glance
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RRP price range £62,140 - £82,250
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid, petrol parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 256.8 - 44.8
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £939 / £6,002
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,877 / £12,004
Available colours