25 years ago, Lexus had the foresight to expand its lineup with a mid-size luxury crossover known as the RX. It was the oddball in a lineup of sedans and helped launch a segment. Fast-forward to today and the segment is booming with options and RX sales have remained constant even with more competition. The RX is currently in its fourth generation which debuted for 2016 and has evolved with more features and a mid-cycle facelift for 2020. Originally offered as only a five-passenger, Lexus added the L variant with a third row and seating for seven in 2018. New for 2022 is the option of adding standalone fog lights to any trim level along with an expanded color pallet that includes Cloudburst Gray and Iridium for all models and Grecian Water for the F Sport models.
The RX is available in two distinct variants, RX 350 or RX 450h, and both are available as a standard five passenger, with the F Sport package or in the L three row seating seven passengers. RX 350 models have a 3.5L V6 that generates 295 horsepower with 267 lb.ft. of torque paired with an eight-speed automatic in either front or all-wheel drive. 450h models adopt a hybrid powertrain that pairs the 3.5L V6 with electric motors and a CVT to deliver 308 horsepower and 247 lb.ft. of torque and are exclusively offered with all-wheel drive. Prices start at $45,320 for a FWD RX 350 and climb into the $51,000 range for an AWD RX 450h F Sport or 450h L. It's a relatively small range of prices that are reasonable for the class but available options can quickly drive the price in to the $60k range. Competition includes vehicles such as the Acura MDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5/Q7, BMW X5, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX60, Jaguar F-pace, Land Rover Range Rover Velar, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Porsche Cayenne, and Volvo XC60. After a week in an RX 450h F Sport, here's what stood out...
Comfortable Ride (+)
Lexus is known to provide its drivers and passengers with a comfortable, serene driving experience and the RX does. The suspension is smooth and glides over road imperfections. It feels grounded and connected to the pavement making it an ideal vehicle to take for a relaxing cruise. The composed drive is ideal for someone who spends a lot of time driving as I never tired of getting behind the wheel. The F Sport features some fine tuning to sharpen the handling that is otherwise on the softer side. It's also a very quiet vehicle which is notable from the moment you hop in and close the heavier doors. Even at highway speed, road noise is kept at bay thanks to a high-quality build from Lexus.
One look at the F Sport model and you'd think this aggressive looking crossover would offer an engaging, sporty ride.... but you'd be wrong. Lexus focuses more on the aforementioned comfort. Acceleration is average going from zero to sixty in under eight seconds for the hybrid. The most athletic model will be the F Sport with the optional handling package that adds an adaptive variable suspension based on the LC500. Even with that, it remains a heavy crossover that takes some effort for the driving "excitement." It is offered with various drive modes including an available Sport S+ that does make it slightly more fun to drive with adjustments to the steering and suspension.
The RX450h hybrid models offer 490 miles of range when the 17.2-gallon tank is full and averages 30 MPG combined on premium fuel. Fuel economy is among the best in its class. After a week of primarily suburban driving, I averaged around 28 MPG driving in primarily Sport + mode. An EV drive mode is available for short distances at low speeds on battery power alone, but the gas engine is fairly quick to kick in. The transitions from electric to gas were not as smooth as I would have expected as it is very noticeable via both performance lag and engine sound.
Aggressive Exterior Design (+)
The RX has slowly evolved over the past four generations to become a crossover that stands out versus blending in. The very prominent front fascia with the wide, angular grille is unmistakable. On either side are triple beam LED headlights with the brand's signature daytime running light style. F Sport models have a darker, more sinister look that is sporty and edgy. The profile features a floating roofline that is separated from the body in the c-pillar with piano black trim and a small window. The look is unique but does hinder some visibility inside. Wheel sizes vary from 18-20" depending on the model. Around back, the evolution from the original RX is apparent as the lights, emblem, and license plate have all remained in generally the same placement over the years. The LED taillights look great when illuminated and emphasize the wide body of the RX.
Grecian Water (+)
New to the color pallet for 2022 is the color Grecian Water which is a shade of blue that really highlights the exterior styling of the RX. The color is available exclusively on the F Sport models and is a bold offering. The first image that pops in my head when I hear of the RX is a silver/champagne colored crossover that generally blends in. This new color is the polar opposite and turns heads. On more than one occasion I overheard or received compliments of the Grecian Blue RX 450h test vehicle. The blue paint is muted, but bold and pairs well with the dark 20" wheels. The color hue varies at different times of the day and gives the Lexus a performance-type of look.
F Sport (+)
I'm a sucker for a sport package that enhances the looks of a vehicle and the F Sport package does that to the RX. It's approximately a $3,500 price increase from the base RX but makes it more appealing to a different audience. Most notable is the change in the front and rear fascias that are more sporty than luxurious. Unique 20" wheels, black outer mirrors, and performance dampers really make the RX pop and stand out even if the performance agility isn't quite there. Interior accents include performance inspired touches of aluminum trim, pedals, and footrest among F Sport badging on the steering wheel and gear selector. Interior sport seats have enhanced bolsters with unique stitching in black and red.
Infotainment Touchscreen (+/-)
The touchscreen was modified with the 2020 refresh and moved closer to the driver. An 8" screen is standard, but there is an available 12.3" high resolution screen as well. The screen sits on top of the dash with good visibility and integrates with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. It includes an available pinch and zoom display and split screen design to highlight multiple kinds of information at the same time. Apps can be controlled via steering wheel controls, the touchscreen, voice command, or the Lexus touchpad that takes some time to get accommodated with. One nuance is that there is no home button on the screen so you'll need to rely on some of the buttons in the center console around the touch pad to navigate the screens. The system is an improvement for Lexus, but still feels like it's a generation behind some competitors.
Comfort, quality, and functional are three words to describe the interior of the RX. Materials are all high-quality utilizing soft-touch leather, woods, and appropriate accents. The build quality is best in class with tight gaps and proper alignment. Controls are focused to the driver with a slight angle and everything is within arm's reach. Below the touchscreen are air vents split by a traditional Lexus analog clock. The RX maintains a fair number of buttons and dials as well as a standard gear selector. Everything is where it should be and easy to get acclimated with.
The leather seats are both heated and ventilated with both features working well. The seats can be easily adjusted and offer good support while encompassing the driver with well-cushioned padding. The RX is wide thus providing plenty of head and leg room for its five passengers. Driver's seat easy exit is a nice feature in which the seat automatically slides back upon turning off the vehicle to provide maximum space to exit and re-enter the vehicle. Upon starting up the RX, the seat and steering wheel positions will return to the previous setting.
I can appreciate that Lexus wanted to expand the lineup with a third row, however, the third row is so tight it can barely accommodate children. Additionally, there is only a tiny window to shed some light back there making it really feel like a penalty box. The RX is at its best as five-passenger, two-row crossover.
Cargo Capacity (-)
The RX 450h has 16 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the rear seats and 32.6 cu. ft. behind the front seats. These measurements are near the bottom of the segment and the space is further hampered by the slanted roofline in the back. The rear cargo floor is also higher which adds to complexity of packing the RX and limits how high items can be stacked.
Standard on all models is Lexus Safety System 2.0 which includes the following driver assist features:
* Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
* Lane tracing assist
* Lane departure alert with steering assist
* Road sign assist
* All-Speed dynamic radar cruise control
* Intelligent high beams
* Blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert
As a veteran in the segment, the RX has held steady with its value and reliability over the years. It's a safe, comfortable choice for buyers that delivers a smooth and efficient ride. The hybrid option makes a lot of sense with an impressive range and good fuel economy. There are more options than ever in this segment and the RX has aged well.
First Impression Summary:
Exterior Color: Grecian Water
Interior Color: Black Leather
Notable Options: Triple beam auto-leveling LED headlights ($1,975), navigation system with premium sound and 12.3" touchscreen ($3,365), heated & ventilated seats ($640), head-up display ($600), panoramic view monitor with parking assist ($1,365), power moonroof and roof rails ($1,350), running boards ($650).
Price as tested: $63,455 (with destination charge)