2021 Lexus RX 450h review: Comfortable if not classy

The expressively styled Lexus RX is easy and coddling.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The 2021 Lexus RX 450h F Activity hybrid crossover is sinuous, frugal and impressively peaceful — specifically what I want in a luxury auto. There is, however, 1 element of this Lexus which is unforgivable, a mortal sin that drags down an if not nice auto: the infotainment system. 


  • Stellar Mark Levinson seem system
  • Spacious and snug backseat
  • Exemplary refinement

You should not Like

  • Loathsome infotainment system
  • Far too-intense exterior styling
  • Meh true-planet gas economic system

Hybrid versions of the RX come conventional with all-wheel drive, but this illustration is also equipped with the F Activity deal, which involves gown-up merchandise like a unique grille, aluminum pedal addresses, 20-inch wheels and even general performance dampers. For more sportiness, a $970 dealing with deal is also supplied, bringing an adaptive suspension system, retuned electrical power steering and more goodies to the table. Outside of all those F Activity upgrades, my tester capabilities the Black Line Special Edition deal. The good news is this up grade expenses just $685 and involves specific human body-aspect graphics, a black grille encompass and a Halliburton Edge lightweight two-piece luggage established. The bad news is the Black Line Special Edition deal is minimal to just 750 fuel-driven RXs and 250 hybrid versions.

The Lexus RX’s styling is definitely intense, with its comically big grille, angular headlamps and chiseled surfacing, but its interior is a great deal more restrained and nice. The cabin’s high-quality is stellar and its supplies are normally quite good. The headliner and roof pillars are wrapped in a flannel-like material, gentle plastics are employed liberally all over and nearly all the switches and knobs come to feel slickly lubricated. Guaranteed, you can come across a smattering of Toyota-sourced buttons below and there things you get in, say, a Camry, but these carryover controls are well concealed and barely objectionable.

Just driving this Lexus’ unusually deep dashboard, the front bucket chairs are all-day snug and appealing, rendered in black and white with contrasting blue stitching, a combo which is also part of the Black Line Special Edition deal. Storage place up front is good, consisting of a decently sized bin under the middle armrest, a several other little cubbies on the console and generously proportioned front door pockets that pop outward when you pull on them. Relocating rearward, the RX’s backseat is nearly sprawl-out roomy, with lots of legroom and a first rate amount of money of noggin place. At ease cushions give excellent assistance, with the lessen 1 currently being a awesome distance earlier mentioned the flooring for a chair-like seating situation. Offering uncomplicated entry, this Lexus’ rear doors open awesome and extensive.

But now for some bad news. If you can find a worse infotainment system than what’s supplied in this Lexus, I am not aware of it. With a bewildering consumer interface as well as a clunky and tough-to-use handle pad on the console, this multimedia system is 50 percent laptop, 50 percent small-close Android pill and all kinds of awful. Not only is the menu construction puzzling, the keep track of pad you use to navigate via it is kludgy, earning even simple jobs a distracting chore. Rubbing salt in the wound, this RX 450h is also equipped with the prime-shelf 12.3-inch display (an eight-incher is conventional), which is bundled in a $3,365 possibilities deal, so you might be spending hundreds more for an awful experience. At least that outlay also receives you embedded navigation and a superb Mark Levinson seem system that tends to make even extremely compressed MP3s and muddy satellite radio come alive. Though a little bit of a achieve, the RX’s infotainment display is touch-enabled, so you can skip the trackpad, but only if your arms are lanky adequate. Luckily, this system also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile (as well as Amazon Alexa), so you do not have to use the infotainment system any longer than it requires to plug your cellphone in. The vehicle’s six USB ports guarantee everyone’s mobile equipment are fully juiced a wi-fi charging pad is also accessible.

2021 Lexus RX 450h

The RX’s interior is very well built and refined, although its infotainment tech leaves a great deal to be wished-for.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The Lexus RX was up-to-date in 2020, gaining a stiffened construction and revised suspension for greater dealing with. This year, the auto gains some new technologies, like blind-place monitoring and rear cross-targeted traffic inform, both equally of which are now conventional across the array. Automobile-dimming, electrical power-folding mirrors are provided at no more charge, way too, as is Lexus Basic safety Procedure In addition two., a suite of driver aids that involves daytime bike owner detection, small-light-weight pedestrian detection, road sign recognition and lane-keeping help. Luckily, I have not experienced an option to check the pedestrian-detecting methods, but the lane-keeping help is light nonetheless fairly powerful.

Underway, the RX 450h is 1 easy operator. Whether or not you might be traversing frost-heaved highways, tiptoeing together a cratered dirt road or just cruising about your subdivision, this Lexus’ ride is normally sinuous. Even rolling on 20-inch wheels, little expansion joints hardly sign up and more substantial impacts are simply deflected, all with no harshness or gritty vibration percolating via to the passenger compartment. Regardless of its easy ride, the RX 450h’s human body is decently controlled. Guaranteed, it could come to feel a little bit tighter in corners and it might be awesome if the steering were being more rapidly and heftier, but the whole chassis feels so well balanced that these adjustments aren’t necessary, moreover they might damage the fluffy ride, which would be a disgrace.

2021 Lexus RX 450h

Refined, punchy and economical, you can find very little to complain about regarding the RX 450h’s powertrain. 

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Matching its around-the-road refinement, the RX’s cabin remains amazingly silent, quieter than naptime in a nursing house, with just about no wind, tire or engine noise currently being heard. The RX 450h’s hybrid powertrain is built about a 3.5-liter V6, 1 augmented by two electrical motor-generators up front that variety a continually variable transmission, and a independent motor at the rear, which provides all-wheel drive. Whispering though it operates, this arrangement provides a net 308 horsepower, although a torque figure is not shown simply because the math with hybrids is bizarre. On its have, however, the V6 engine whips up 247 pound-ft of twist. The RX 450h’s uncomplicated dealing with and all-wheel drive include immensely to my confidence 1 day as the temperature goes from drab to hazardous, with a winter storm dumping sleet on the roadways.

Stand on the accelerator and this Lexus scoots. Effectiveness, though not awe-inspiring, is still quite good, the engine sounding like it truly is running significantly off in the distance alternatively than a several inches forward of your toes. The hybrid pieces of this drivetrain are similarly polished, hardly drawing any awareness to on their own. The brake pedal is also helpful, with a seamless changeover involving regenerative and friction braking. For additional versatility, the RX 450h gives an EV mode, which will allow you to operate it entirely on electrons. The onboard battery pack has adequate juice for you to sneak down a cul-du-sac or into the garage without operating the engine, but as quickly as you go way too fast or prod the throttle way too aggressively the engine fires up. Recall, this is not a plug-in hybrid, so electrical-only array is not the main concentration.

Chopping gas intake, however, is 1 of this Lexus’ major targets. Anticipate 31 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on freeway drives. In combined use, the RX 450h must return 30 mpg, however, in the true planet I only regular about 25.1, a disappointing rating. It’s typically a breeze to meet or even exceed advertised gas-economic system scores in Toyota hybrids, which tends to make this general performance (or absence thereof) a little bit of a shock.

2021 Lexus RX 450h

The Lexus RX is a little something of a combined bag.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

With its upscale interior, refined manners and, yes, unfortunate infotainment tech, a base 2021 Lexus RX 450h starts at just shy of $forty nine,000, like $1,025 in desired destination service fees. Which is about $two,650 more than an entry-stage, front-wheel-drive, non-hybrid RX 350. As it sits, this F Activity illustration checks out for $fifty nine,380, a figure goosed by a several include-ons like a $200 wi-fi charger, $640 heated and ventilated front seats, $1,365 for parking help and a 360-diploma camera system, moreover a several supplemental goodies. Nonetheless, that outlay receives you a family members-helpful auto which is more docile and refined than the sportier Acura MDX and, many thanks to its intense styling (which you may possibly or may possibly not appreciate), more visually intriguing than a Lincoln Nautilus or Mercedes-Benz GLC.

There’s an abundance of luxury crossovers accessible nowadays, excellent illustrations from German, American and Asian automakers. A great deal of them offer you upscale interiors and hundreds of fancy capabilities, but several are as refined, gas economical — and in 1 certain way — frustrating as this primarily likable Lexus.