Auto

Lexus RX SUV review

"The Lexus RX is a striking and efficient luxury SUV; however, rivals are much more practical"

Pros

  • Fuel-sipping hybrid powertrains
  • Plush interior
  • Lexus customer satisfaction is strong

Cons

  • Rivals are more fun to drive
  • Gearbox could be smoother
  • Small boot for a large SUV

​In recent years, Lexus has made some of the most striking and modern-looking cars on the road. However, many are starting to feel dated and lag significantly behind rivals from the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Thankfully, Lexus is currently on a spree of refreshing its current lineup of cars with the latest infotainment and hybrid technology.

The Lexus RX is the latest model to get a much-needed update; a rival to the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Range Rover Sport, the RX is the largest Lexus SUV sold in the UK, sitting above the BMW X3-sized NX in the range.

At first glance, not a huge amount has changed on the exterior for this latest generation; the RX still gets Lexus’ gaping spindle grille and more angles than a trigonometry exam. On the inside, things have taken a more drastic turn, as gone is the old car’s fiddly touchpad infotainment system, in favour of an expansive 14-inch touchscreen.

While intuitive infotainment may be a welcome change, something that remains from the old car is Lexus’ use of high-quality materials. The overall design of the RX’s cabin may not be the most exciting – the inside of a Mercedes GLE has more wow-factor – however all the trim feels incredibly plush and well-screwed together.

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, reviews, android, lexus rx suv review

Lexus has become synonymous with hybrid technology and the RX showcases some of the brand’s latest advancements. The range kicks off with the self-charging hybrid RX 350h, with the mid-range plug-in hybrid RX 450h+ being the pick for company car drivers looking for low Benefit-in-Kind tax ratings. The RX 500h sits at the pinnacle of the luxury SUV’s lineup and is also the brand’s first-ever turbocharged hybrid model, sacrificing fuel economy for more speed.

However, while all models of the RX come fitted with punchy powertrains – even the base model outputs 247bhp – a BMW X5 will invariably be a more exciting car to drive. One ace up the Lexus’ sleeve, however, is the inclusion of four-wheel-steering, which makes the SUV much more manoeuvrable at low speeds.

What makes the Lexus RX slightly less usable, however, is its rather small boot, measuring just 461 litres in capacity. Regardless, if you can look past this and the rather unrefined eCVT gearbox, the Lexus RX is a solid choice for a luxury SUV if you’d prefer something different from the onslaught of German competition that’s also impeccably built.

Being a luxury SUV, the Lexus RX is not exactly the most affordable new car to buy – based on the pricing of the outgoing model, we expect the new car to start from just over £60k. Thankfully, Lexus offers the RX with a variety of fuel-sipping hybrid powertrains, meaning it shouldn’t be too expensive to run.

Lexus NX SUV MPG & CO2

The self-charging hybrid 350h is the least expensive RX to buy and is claimed to average around 42mpg on the combined WLTP test cycle – CO2 emissions stand at 143g/km.

The plug-in hybrid 450h+ utilises the same 1.5-litre petrol engine as its self-charging sibling, however, it also gets a larger electric motor and two batteries. Using the larger 18.1kWh unit, the plug-in RX can travel around 40 miles on electric power alone – slightly less than the equivalent BMW X5 xDrive45e.

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, reviews, android, lexus rx suv review

What really sets the plug-in hybrid Lexus apart from its competition, though, is its second battery which kicks in whenever the larger unit is depleted, turning the car into an old-school self-charging hybrid. From what we’re aware, this is an industry first. Keep both batteries charged up – a full charge will take around two hours and 45 minutes when connected to a home wallbox – and you’ll return up to 256.8mpg. This also means CO2 emissions are as low as 24g/km, putting the 450h+ in the eight per cent Benefit-in-Kind company car tax bracket.

Finally, the range-topping RX 500h uses a turbocharged 2.4-litre self-charging hybrid, and as you’d expect being the most powerful model in the range, it’s also the least efficient. Buyers can expect to return around 34.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 189g/km.

Insurance groups

Unfortunately, no matter which version of the Lexus RX you pick, all will be rather expensive to insure. While insurance groups for the new car are yet to be revealed, the old RX straddled groups 34-42.

Warranty

As standard, all Lexus models come with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, with hybrid and electrical components guaranteed for five years. However, just like with its parent brand, Toyota, if you choose to get your car serviced at a main dealer each and every year, this can extend up to 10 years and 100,000 miles.

Servicing

All versions of the new RX require servicing every 10,000 miles or annually, whichever comes sooner. This could add up to more regular servicing than models from some rivals – BMW uses a system whereby sensors within the vehicle determine when a service is required, rather than sticking to fixed intervals.

The Lexus RX shares its underpinnings with the smaller Lexus NX; that car was set up primarily for comfort and the larger RX is no different. The steering rack is incredibly light and doesn’t exactly give much feedback on a twisty road. Regardless, flick the drive mode switch into ‘Sport’ and the RX can still provide a modest amount of fun when asked to.

Lexus offers the RX with optional four-wheel-steering to make the two-tonne behemoth feel a lot more manageable around tight city streets. Standard on high-spec cars, this system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of those at the front at low speeds to reduce the size of the turning circle. The result is a car that feels much more manoeuvrable than you’d expect.

Lexus RX SUV hybrid engines

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, reviews, android, lexus rx suv review

The RX engine range kicks off with the 350h; this produces 247bhp from its 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid engine and electric motor system. For such an economical powertrain, the 350h’s performance offers nothing to complain about. Getting from 0-62mph takes eight seconds, though this feels even quicker thanks to the instant torque from the electric motor.

Next up is the plug-in hybrid RX 450h+ which uses the same 2.5-litre motor as the 350h. However, thanks to a more powerful electric motor, overall output is increased to 304bhp (with an impressive 572Nm of pulling power), which cuts the 0-62mph time down to just seven seconds.

The range-topping RX 500h is the fastest and most dynamic model in the range. Its 2.4-litre turbocharged hybrid engine produces a muscular 366bhp, getting the car from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds. While this can’t keep up with M-badged variants of the BMW X5, it should be more than enough power for most people and it’s the only version fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Choosing the 500h also nets you a couple of mechanical upgrades as part of the F Sport package; this comprises a sportier bodykit as well as a firmer suspension setup and better brakes.

As is the case with most luxury SUVs, the Lexus RX is most at home when cruising around town or on the motorway. While our test drive on beautifully-paved US roads wasn’t exactly the greatest challenge for the RX’s suspension setup, the Lexus wafted along without much fuss and should be up to the task of traversing pothole-laden UK streets.

One major drawback is the RX’s eCVT gearbox; this sinks into the background whenever the car’s batteries are charged up, however when they are depleted the transmission holds onto revs for too long, creating an intrusive drone that makes its way into the cabin. A Volvo XC90 is a better choice for those wanting the most serene of driving experiences.

Lexus RX SUV dashboard

Despite always being at the cutting edge of hybrid technology, Lexus has long lagged behind the competition when it comes to interior and infotainment tech. Thankfully, the new Lexus RX ditches the old car’s frustratingly fiddly touchpad infotainment system in favour of an expansive 14-inch touchscreen. This comes as standard on all models and is pre-loaded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you’d like to connect your smartphone.

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, reviews, android, lexus rx suv review

The new infotainment system is joined by a small digital instrument cluster as well as a set of digitised climate control dials – these are much easier to use than the touch-sensitive sliders often seen in new cars and can also control settings for the heated and ventilated seats.

Juxtaposing the rather eccentric exterior, the RX’s overall cabin design is incredibly minimalist. While some may say the interior lacks personality and flair, it’s hard to deny the RX’s superb build quality. Everything you touch feels incredibly tactile and befitting of a car with a circa £60k price tag. As you’d expect, leather upholstery is a staple across the range, however vegan-friendly upholstery is also offered.

One of our main gripes with the old Lexus RX was the fact it didn’t offer as much space as rivals; while the new car is slightly larger to counteract this problem, there are still roomier options available.

Lexus RX SUV interior space & storage

A longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) means the new Lexus RX offers slightly greater legroom in the rear than the car it replaces. Headroom is good too; the RX’s boxy shape allows taller passengers to sit upright in the back without any complaints. Top-spec Takumi models also get heated and electrically-operated rear seats, allowing those in the back to recline as if in a business-class airline seat.

Boot space

auto, autos, car, cars, lexus, reviews, android, lexus rx suv review

Measuring 461 litres in capacity, the Lexus RX’s boot is rather small for such a large SUV. To put this in context, a plug-in hybrid BMW X5 has a 500+ litre boot, while the Mercedes GLE provides a cavernous 690 litres of load space. On the plus side, the RX’s load bay should be enough to swallow most pushchairs or a handful of suitcases, plus it doesn’t shrink when opting for the plug-in hybrid model.

Towing

Hybrid models haven’t always been very well suited to towing, but the Lexus RX posts some respectable figures. The 350h, 450h+ and 500h are all rated to tow a 2,000kg braked trailer (750kg unbraked), making it possible to haul a large caravan or sizeable trailer with a load on it. While this still isn’t close to the 3,500kg limit of a diesel Land Rover Discovery, two tonnes should be plenty for the majority of drivers.

While luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi are held in high regard in terms of quality and reliability, the reality is that many owners end up being dissatisfied with their purchase. However, our Driver Power customer satisfaction surveys reveal that Lexus is an exception to this trend, with most buyers reporting good things about the Japanese brand’s cars.

Lexus RX SUV reliability

In our 2022 Driver Power survey, Lexus finished a strong 12th out of 29 manufacturers, with only 12% of buyers reporting a fault within the first year of ownership. This compares with 23% of BMW owners and 27% of Mercedes customers. Lexus ranked exceptionally for build quality, ride quality and reliability, but was marked down for its touchpad-based infotainment systems – something that has been remedied for the latest-generation RX.

Safety

The Lexus RX is too new to have been tested by independent safety experts Euro NCAP, however, its smaller sibling, the NX, was recently given the full five-star safety rating. All versions of the RX come with Lexus’ full Safety System + suite of driver aids which includes pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. These are all features designed to make driving less stressful as well as safer, which should add to the luxurious feel of picking the Lexus.

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network