2021 RX 450hL New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Lexus RX has been redesigned. In its latest form, the RX abandons the previous somber styling and near-silent running, turning instead to an edgier look and even a more raucous demeanor. That's quite a radical step ahead. Launched as a 1999 model, the midsize RX is billed as the original luxury crossover SUV.
For the 2020 model year, an 8.0-inch touchscreen and touchpad has replaced the former mouse-like infotainment controller. A 12.3-inch screen is optional. In addition, the RX is the first Lexus to get Android Auto compatibility, joining Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. Six USB ports are now standard. The F Sport model can be equipped with a performance package that includes an adaptive suspension.
Two versions are offered: a gas-powered RX 350 and a hybrid RX 450h. Both come in either standard or three-row 'L'? form.
Beneath the hood of the RX 350, a 3.5-liter V-6 makes 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph takes about 8 seconds, helped by a smartly programmed 8-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters permit manual control.
The heavier RX 450h pairs a different 3.5-liter V-6 with two electric motors and a battery pack. The gasoline engine drives the front wheels, while an electric motor sends power to the rear wheels. That configuration gives the RX 450h all-wheel drive. Combined output totals 308 hp, sent to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Acceleration time is about equal to that of the RX 350.
As expected, hybrid RX crossovers get the best fuel economy, while the popular RX 350 registers average. The RX 350 is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 27 highway, and 23 combined, or 19/26/22 mpg with all-wheel drive. The RX 350L checks in with 19/26/22 mpg with front-wheel drive, versus 18/25/21 mpg with AWD.
The RX 450h is EPA-rated at 31 mpg city, 28 highway, and 30 combined. Long-wheelbase L versions are estimated at 29/28/29 mpg.
Crash test results are mixed. The IIHS gave the RX 'Good'? scores in each of its crash tests, naming it a Top Safety Pick if equipped with LED projector headlights, which are available on certain trims. The NHTSA gave FWD variants four stars overall, but AWD versions were awarded a five-star overall safety rating.
Lexus bundles each RX with a wealth of safety and accident-avoidance technology. Every model comes with automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-departure warnings, and active lane control. Lexus has upgraded its safety suite with speed-limit sign detection and finer pedestrian-sensing for the braking system.
Views toward the rear are impeded by thick roof pillars.
The Lexus RX is available in two main trim levels: RX 350 and RX 450h. Both come in an F Sport offshoot. Prices include a $1,025 destination charge.
The RX 350 starts at $45,175 and comes with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine, LED headlights, synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, power-adjustable front seats, keyless ignition, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, dual-zone climate control, a power rear door, a nine-speaker audio system, and an infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
The RX 350 F Sport ($48,975) adds performance dampers, enhanced seat bolstering, performance-inspired instruments, scored aluminum trim, aluminum pedals, 20-inch wheels, and a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel. An available Performance Package includes an adaptive suspension, retuned electric power steering, a Sport S+ driving mode, and a heated steering wheel.
The RX 450h is priced from $47,775 and is equipped similar to the base RX 350, but with the hybrid powertrain. Standard equipment in the RX 450h F Sport ($51,575) is similar to the RX 350 F Sport.