Pros—Luxurious. Roomy. Smooth. Nice handling. Fairly fast. Good economy. Safety items. All-wheel drive.
Cons—High step up. Costly desirable options. Long reach to radio tuner knob.
Bottom Line—The Lexus RX has a sold reputation and good resale value.
Meet the 2022 Lexus RX
450h F Sport if you want a decidedly upscale luxury hybrid SUV that’s a great long-distance cruiser with enough sportiness to make driving enjoyable.
The RX long has been among the top-selling Lexus vehicles, and the 2002 version has few changes from the 2001 model. There’s just added colors and a retuned suspension. The $51,500 450h F Sport is among the most expensive RX models but is well built and has a long-lived reputation, although it has a long list of tempting costly options.
The RX comes in a variety of trim levels with a regular or an extended wheelbase model to accommodate small kids in a third-row seat. I drove the regular length model. My test 450h F Sport all-wheel-drive model’s options raised its bottom-line price to $62,380, excluding the $1,075 freight charge. But this tall 67.7-inch-high SUV almost calls for the optional $650 running boards to assist getting aboard, where occupants sit high. My test F Sport had a plush interior with such things as supportive sport seats, soft leather and other upscale interior materials. It was beautifully built.
But many options are expensive. For instance, there’s the optional $1,350 power moonroof, $3,365 navigation system with a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and a $1,365 panoramic view monitor with intuitive parking and assist rear cross-traffic braking. Get the picture? However, less costly worthwhile options include a $200 cold weather package with a fast-response interior heater for drivers up North and a $150 power rear hatch, which always comes in handy when loading cargo.
Still, the RX 450h F Sport has plenty of standard equipment.
The basic RX has a decent 3.5-liter 295 horsepower V-6, but the hybrid model has a a 3.5-liter V-6 and three electric motors for a total output of 308 horsepower, which I found is enough to give the 4,740-pound SUV good acceleration and smooth power delivery. A CVT automatic transmission works efficiently and can be shifted manually via steering wheel paddles or the transmission lever. You can choose regular, economical or sport drive modes.
The aggressively styled RX Sport version has 20-inch alloy wheels and lots of “F Sport” badging, but its front and rear performance dampers really are the most significant contribution to the “Sport” name. But note that this SUV is not particularly sporty to begin with, although steering, braking and handling are quite good and the 0-60 m.p.h. time is a decent 6.9 seconds. One can easily shift to a performance driving mode, but it just stiffens the ride a bit and after awhile a driver likely will say “why bother?”
The RX 450h F Sport is plenty quick in town for safe traffic maneuvers, and passing above 65 m.p.h. is done quickly on highways. An ultra-smooth ride makes traveling on most roads a pleasant experience. This is a vehicle with a relaxed driving demeanor.
Estimated fuel economy of this hybrid is 31 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on highways. Premium fuel is called for to fill the 17.2-gallon tank. Batteries last practically forever, all things being equal.
There’s good room for four tall adults, although the center of the rear seat is too stiff for comfort for a third occupant back there. It’s best to leave that space for the fold-down armrest with its sturdy dual pop-out cupholders. The front cabin has an improved touchscreen that’s fairly easy to use, although the redundant radio tuner knob calls for a long reach from the driver’s seat. Front console cupholders are conveniently located, and there there are a fairly good number of storage areas, including flip-out front door storage pockets.
Other standard upscale items include automatic dual zone climate controls with rear vents, power front seats, a power tilt-and telescopic steering column and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Optional are heated and ventilated front seats, and you can get a 12.2-inch touchscreen in place of the standard 8-inch touchscreen and a wireless charger.
The cargo area increases from 16 cubic feet to 32.6 cubic feet with the rear setbacks folded forward, but the load floor then isn’t totally flat.
Alas, more people are driving to work these days instead of working at home, so the more safety features you have the better. My test RX 450h F Sport’s safety items included 10 air bags, smart-stop technology, lane-tracing and road sign assists, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamo radar cruise control and lane departure assist, blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
In all, the Lexus RX 450h Sport is a thoroughly pleasant and competent SUV with a good resale value.