2021 Lexus RX 450h review: Comfortable if not classy

2021 Lexus RX 450h

The expressively styled Lexus RX is smooth and coddling.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The 2021 Lexus RX 450h F Sport hybrid crossover is sinuous, frugal and impressively tranquil — just what I want in a luxury vehicle. There is, however, a single factor of this Lexus that’s unforgivable, a mortal sin that drags down an normally pleasurable vehicle: the infotainment procedure. 

Table of Contents


  • Stellar Mark Levinson audio procedure
  • Roomy and comfy backseat
  • Exemplary refinement

Don’t Like

  • Loathsome infotainment procedure
  • Far too-intense exterior styling
  • Meh genuine-entire world fuel economic climate

Hybrid versions of the RX occur conventional with all-wheel drive, but this example is also fitted with the F Sport bundle, which features costume-up objects like a unique grille, aluminum pedal addresses, 20-inch wheels and even general performance dampers. For additional sportiness, a $970 managing bundle is also presented, bringing an adaptive suspension procedure, retuned energy steering and extra goodies to the table. Over and above those people F Sport upgrades, my tester attributes the Black Line Particular Version bundle. The very good news is this update expenditures just $685 and features distinctive entire body-side graphics, a black grille surround and a Halliburton Edge light-weight two-piece baggage established. The poor news is the Black Line Particular Version bundle is constrained to just 750 gasoline-powered RXs and 250 hybrid models.

The Lexus RX’s styling is surely intense, with its comically massive grille, angular headlamps and chiseled surfacing, but its inside is a lot extra restrained and pleasurable. The cabin’s high quality is stellar and its resources are commonly incredibly very good. The headliner and roof pillars are wrapped in a flannel-like cloth, delicate plastics are made use of liberally through and practically all the switches and knobs feel slickly lubricated. Guaranteed, you are going to locate a smattering of Toyota-sourced buttons right here and there things you get in, say, a Camry, but these carryover controls are properly concealed and hardly objectionable.

Just powering this Lexus’ unusually deep dashboard, the front bucket chairs are all-day comfy and attractive, rendered in black and white with contrasting blue stitching, a combo that’s also portion of the Black Line Particular Version bundle. Storage space up front is very good, consisting of a decently sized bin less than the heart armrest, a several other smaller cubbies on the console and generously proportioned front door pockets that pop outward when you pull on them. Transferring rearward, the RX’s backseat is practically sprawl-out spacious, with a good deal of legroom and a first rate amount of noggin space. Comfy cushions provide great assistance, with the lessen a single being a nice distance earlier mentioned the flooring for a chair-like seating position. Furnishing uncomplicated obtain, this Lexus’ rear doorways open nice and wide.

But now for some poor news. If you can find a even worse infotainment procedure than what is presented in this Lexus, I am not mindful of it. With a bewildering person interface as properly as a clunky and hard-to-use manage pad on the console, this multimedia procedure is 50 percent laptop computer, 50 percent minimal-stop Android pill and all types of horrible. Not only is the menu structure complicated, the observe pad you use to navigate via it is kludgy, generating even very simple tasks a distracting chore. Rubbing salt in the wound, this RX 450h is also fitted with the top rated-shelf 12.3-inch display screen (an 8-incher is conventional), which is bundled in a $3,365 choices bundle, so you might be spending countless numbers extra for an terrible experience. At minimum that outlay also receives you embedded navigation and a exceptional Mark Levinson audio procedure that makes even very compressed MP3s and muddy satellite radio occur alive. When a bit of a attain, the RX’s infotainment display screen is contact-enabled, so you can skip the trackpad, but only if your arms are lanky more than enough. Luckily, this procedure also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle (as properly as Amazon Alexa), so you don’t have to use the infotainment procedure any longer than it requires to plug your phone in. The vehicle’s 6 USB ports guarantee everyone’s mobile gadgets are fully juiced a wi-fi charging pad is also out there.

2021 Lexus RX 450h

The RX’s inside is really properly built and refined, however its infotainment tech leaves a lot to be desired.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The Lexus RX was updated in 2020, attaining a stiffened structure and revised suspension for superior managing. This 12 months, the vehicle gains some new technological innovation, like blind-location checking and rear cross-website traffic alert, both of which are now conventional across the selection. Vehicle-dimming, energy-folding mirrors are integrated at no additional demand, as well, as is Lexus Protection Program As well as 2., a suite of driver aids that features daytime bike owner detection, minimal-light-weight pedestrian detection, highway sign recognition and lane-keeping help. Luckily, I have not experienced an opportunity to test the pedestrian-detecting programs, but the lane-keeping help is gentle yet rather efficient.

Underway, the RX 450h is a single smooth operator. No matter whether you might be traversing frost-heaved highways, tiptoeing along a cratered dust highway or just cruising all over your subdivision, this Lexus’ ride is generally sinuous. Even rolling on 20-inch wheels, smaller growth joints hardly register and much larger impacts are easily deflected, all with no harshness or gritty vibration percolating via to the passenger compartment. Even with its smooth ride, the RX 450h’s entire body is decently controlled. Guaranteed, it could feel a bit tighter in corners and it may be nice if the steering had been a lot quicker and heftier, but the complete chassis feels so properly balanced that these alterations are not needed, furthermore they may destroy the fluffy ride, which would be a disgrace.

2021 Lexus RX 450h

Refined, punchy and affordable, you can find tiny to complain about pertaining to the RX 450h’s powertrain. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Matching its in excess of-the-highway refinement, the RX’s cabin remains unbelievably silent, quieter than naptime in a nursing residence, with just about no wind, tire or engine sound being read. The RX 450h’s hybrid powertrain is built all over a 3.five-liter V6, a single augmented by two electric powered motor-generators up front that form a repeatedly variable transmission, and a separate motor at the rear, which delivers all-wheel drive. Whispering though it operates, this arrangement delivers a internet 308 horsepower, however a torque determine is not stated because the math with hybrids is strange. On its possess, however, the V6 engine whips up 247 pound-toes of twist. The RX 450h’s uncomplicated managing and all-wheel drive add immensely to my self-assurance a single day as the weather goes from drab to hazardous, with a wintertime storm dumping sleet on the roadways.

Stand on the accelerator and this Lexus scoots. Effectiveness, though not awe-inspiring, is even now incredibly very good, the engine sounding like it is running much off in the distance alternatively than a several inches ahead of your toes. The hybrid pieces of this drivetrain are likewise polished, hardly drawing any consideration to by themselves. The brake pedal is also pleasant, with a seamless changeover in between regenerative and friction braking. For included versatility, the RX 450h features an EV manner, which allows you to operate it exclusively on electrons. The onboard battery pack has more than enough juice for you to sneak down a cul-du-sac or into the garage devoid of managing the engine, but as quickly as you go as well quick or prod the throttle as well aggressively the engine fires up. Keep in mind, this is not a plug-in hybrid, so electric powered-only selection is not the key aim.

Reducing fuel use, however, is a single of this Lexus’ principal targets. Be expecting 31 miles per gallon in the metropolis and 28 mpg on highway drives. In blended use, the RX 450h should return thirty mpg, however, in the genuine entire world I only ordinary all over 25.1, a disappointing rating. It really is commonly a breeze to meet up with or even exceed advertised fuel-economic climate scores in Toyota hybrids, which makes this general performance (or deficiency thereof) a bit of a surprise.

2021 Lexus RX 450h

The Lexus RX is some thing of a blended bag.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

With its upscale inside, refined manners and, of course, unlucky infotainment tech, a base 2021 Lexus RX 450h commences at just shy of $49,000, like $1,025 in place fees. Which is about $2,650 extra than an entry-amount, front-wheel-drive, non-hybrid RX 350. As it sits, this F Sport example checks out for $59,380, a determine goosed by a several add-ons like a $two hundred wi-fi charger, $640 heated and ventilated front seats, $1,365 for parking help and a 360-diploma digital camera procedure, furthermore a several extra goodies. Nonetheless, that outlay receives you a relatives-pleasant vehicle that’s extra docile and refined than the sportier Acura MDX and, many thanks to its intense styling (which you might or might not enjoy), extra visually fascinating than a Lincoln Nautilus or Mercedes-Benz GLC.

You will find an abundance of luxury crossovers out there right now, great illustrations from German, American and Asian automakers. A good deal of them present upscale interiors and loads of fancy attributes, but several are as refined, fuel economical — and in a single unique way — disheartening as this primarily likable Lexus.