Performance & drive

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

The Lexus RX L is a conventional self-charging hybrid, rather than a plug-in hybrid like the BMW X5 45e and Volvo XC90 Recharge, or a mild hybrid like the Audi Q7.

That means it gets a small battery that can support electric-only running in small bursts when manoeuvring in a car park, queuing in stop-start traffic, or when you come off the accelerator pedal while on the move. In other words, while the RX L will run purely on electricity unlike mild hybrids, it won’t do it for mile after mile like a plug-in.

Those engine issues are a shame, because otherwise the RX L is a really relaxing car to drive long distances. Road and wind noise are fairly well contained, and its suspension is very much geared towards comfort.

The Takumi trim amps up this cushyness with adaptive suspension as standard, and when it's set to Comfort mode it seems to glide over big bumps. Expansion joints and small road imperfections are also rounded off nicely, making it a fine long-distance cruiser. It certainly beats the firmer X5 and fidgety XC90 for comfort, although the Q7, with its standard air suspension, is better still.

When it comes to handling, the RX L feels very similar to the standard Lexus RX. That is to say, it’s not much fun. In range-topping Takumi trim (the only version we’ve tested so far), the car feels reasonably composed and stable through corners, but there's quite a bit of body lean when you press on, and not a whole lot of grip. The steering doesn’t offer much of a connection to the road, so if you’re looking for a luxury SUV that’s quick and agile, there are better options, such as the X5.

Lexus RX L 2021 rear right static