2021 Lexus RX 450h review: the best RX?

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The judgment: The hybrid powertrain of the 2021 Lexus RX 450h, the high-quality interior and the improved technology make it an economical family haulier despite a few minor flaws.

Compared to the competition: A stylish interior and a relatively new touchscreen help the RX 450h keep up with other fashionable hybrid SUVs. The added fuel efficiency and standard all-wheel drive make it the best Lexus RX on the market.

Lexus’ RX SUV range may not be the biggest or the most cable on the automaker’s SUV list, but it certainly is what the brand brought to market – and the RX is the top-selling vehicle. And of this remarkable bunch, the RX 450h hybrid version is possibly the best.

The major updates to the RX line were made in 2020 when Lexus didn’t exactly do this dig The highly malicious touchpad controller for the center console instead offered the choice between two touchscreen displays (8 or 12.3 inches), with which the driver can control almost everything via the display, not the confusing and distracting touchpad.

Connected: 2020 Lexus RX Review: Exactly What Doctor Ordered

Our test vehicle contained the most important update of the RX for the 2021 model year: a new trim level of the Black Line Edition that adds black exterior accents, including a horizontal black stripe above the rocker arms, reminiscent of the GTS fairings from Porsche. The fairing also brings black 20-inch wheels, a unique interior and a set of matching Halliburton luggage. We couldn’t play with the luggage set but it didn’t cause any Environmental disasterSo let’s call it a win. Our test vehicle was priced at $ 59,380, including a target fee of $ 1,025.

The R.The X 450h competes against vehicles such as the 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid, the revised 2022 Acura MDX and its own sibling, the gas-powered RX 350.


The 450h has a total of 308 hp with a gasoline-powered V-6 that works with three electric motor-generators and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. It’s not a notable number, but it’s enough to get the SUV up and running in a timely manner and provide instant overtaking power, even with a slightly hesitant continuously variable automatic transmission (the Gas RX 350 gets a traditional eight-speed automatic). The only minor problem I had with the powertrain was a slightly unrefined booming noise.

The most remarkable thing about the RX 450h’s driving experience is how unobtrusive it is. Aside from a powertrain you never crave for performance, the steering feel is communicative for a midsize SUV, and the suspension is just that side of strength. An optional F Sport handling package that was not included in the vehicle we drive adds additional suspension and readjusts the steering ratio. However, I suspect that this would not lead to a completely different driving or handling. The latest version of Lexus’ F Sport packages, at least for the SUVs, seems to be mostly about pears. If that’s the look you want, go for it (I actually prefer it aesthetically), but if you don’t care or care about the look of the F Sport package, save the money.

The biggest surprise when driving the RX 450h is the braking – or rather the fact that I didn’t find the behavior of the brake pedal annoying. Most vehicles in Toyota’s hybrid family have a spongy, non-linear brake pedal feel that can take some getting used to – and can lead to tense moments when braking at higher speeds (e.g. when suddenly a traffic jam occurs). The RX 450h’s brake pedal feel was more linear than I expected, almost like a non-hybrid car. We’d like more of this in your other hybrids, Toyota and Lexus.

Also noteworthy: When testing the RX 450h in Chicago, we had heavy snowfall and the SUV had some problems with deeper, heavier, and wet snow. This may be due to the efficiency-oriented Bridgestone Ecopia tires, which consumers on Tirerack.com rate with 3.3 out of 10 for winter / snow performance. Michelin Premier LTX tires, which are also listed as original equipment for this model and trim level, scored 7.1 points in the same category. It’s a helpful reminder: AWD isn’t a free pass when it comes to traction in the snow, and tires are often the culprit.

During our time with the RX 450h, we didn’t perform an official fuel consumption test, but we did EPA rates it a solid one 31/28/30 mpg City / highway / combined. Compared to competitorsIt significantly exceeds the 19/26/22 mpg of the 2021 RX 350 AWD and the 19/25/21 mpg of the 2022 MDX AWD. Its combined 30 mpg also surpasses the 2721 Volvo XC60 Recharge’s combined rating of 27 mpg, even though that vehicle is a plug-in hybrid with 19 miles of all-electric range when fully charged. Continuing the tradition of Toyota and Lexus hybrids, the RX 450h offers an all-electric driving mode that works for incredibly short periods of time at extremely low speeds and is almost pointless.

Interior and cargo

Despite the dreaded touchpad controller (I’ll get back to that in a moment when I prepare), the inside of the RX 450h – and really every Lexus in my book – is one of its strongest suits. The materials are high quality and the buttons and switches all feel top notch. The two-tone upholstery on the test vehicle may not be for everyone, but it still feels good.

The interior of the RX 450h is roomy enough for adults in the front and back, and there’s so much headroom that adding the optional sunroof, which the RX we drove didn’t have, probably wouldn’t be a problem. The cargo area is solid too, with a Lexus-measured 16 cubic feet with the rear seat on and 32.6 cubic feet with the seat folded down. These are the same dimensions as the RX 350 so there is no cargo hold penalty when choosing the hybrid.

The touchpad controller, on the other hand, … stinks. Its action is imprecise and requires a lot of attention that should be reserved for driving, oh, I don’t know. I actually prefer the older joystick-based system because with this system I could at least keep a better eye on the road and have a better idea of ​​where the cursor was going. But none of that matters anymore because the display is a touchscreen. The only time my hand intentionally went towards the touchpad was when I pressed the home button, which is there, not on the display itself. Other than that, I never used it.

The graphics of the display are starting to look dated and the menu structure isn’t the easiest to use, but for now I’m ready to give Lexus a pass as the system is finally at least usable. Another disadvantage, however, is that most of the functions on the 12.3-inch display only take up about two-thirds of the screen. However, this is less of a problem than a missed opportunity. ple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa Connectivity is standard regardless of screen size.


The RX 450h is equipped as standard with the Lexus Safety System Plus 2.0, which includes an additional cruise control, a lane departure warning with lane departure warning, lane centering steering, automatic forward braking with pedestrian detection and a high beam assistant. The warning of blind spots with cross traffic warning at the rear is now standard on the 2021 models. Our test vehicle also included an optional head-up display. It helped when it didn’t wash out from the polarized sunglasses I was wearing.

The road safety insurance institute named the 2021 Lexus RX, but it includes both the gas-only 350 and the hybrid 450h Not the three-row L versions, a Top security pimples for 2021, which represent top marks for accident safety, accident prevention with other vehicles and an evaluation of the child seat anchor. For its headlight performance and accident prevention with pedestrians, it did a little worse. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assessed the 2021 RX 450h A total of four stars.

Should You Buy an RX 450h?

If you decide between an RX 350 and an RX 450h, the hybrid is a very compelling case. It offers a similar driving experience, interior, and significantly better fuel economy for a starting price that’s only $ 1,250 higher than an AWD RX 350.

In terms of price and efficiency, the RX 450h is also a strong argument when compared to the competition outside the Lexus family – at least in terms of performance.

Ultimately, the RX 450h’s strongest argument is that it offers the advantages of a hybrid without most of the disadvantages and annoyances of the usual “unique” hybrid experience.

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