Lexus RX review
The new Lexus RX is bigger, more powerful and more efficient than ever, and it looks the part too
Radical styling helps the RX to stand out next to rivals like the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. The interior is excellent too, with high-quality materials and loads of equipment. The RX prioritises comfort over driving dynamics, though, so if you're looking for a large, refined, easy to drive SUV, you can't go far wrong with a Lexus.
The RX is efficient on paper, although against the new wave of plug-in hybrid rivals its CO2 ratings are less competitive for company car drivers than previously. The electric motor in the RX 450h model means it's good in commuter traffic, but it’s unlikely that real-world fuel economy will come close to the combined cycle figure.
Also on the downside, it won't beat sportier rivals when it comes to handling and the RX's lack of character on the road will put enthusiasts off. The infotainment system isn’t as easy to get on with as rival set-ups either.
About the Lexus RX
The Lexus RX was one of the very first luxury SUVs to hit the market, with the original RX 300 arriving in the late 1990s - shortly after Mercedes introduced its M Class off-roader.
The primary market was the US, where the Lexus RX has performed spectacularly against domestic rivals such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. A combination of comfort, impeccable build quality and peerless reliability made it an instant best-seller across the pond, and those qualities mean the RX has sold well across its four generations here in the UK too.
As well as being a trailblazer for the luxury SUV/crossover segment, the RX is also notable as the first luxury hybrid vehicle - the RX 400h model was first introduced in the mid-noughties.
The current RX continues the tradition and uses Toyota’s long-established ‘self-charging’ hybrid system with onboard batteries and supplementary electric motor to reduce emissions and improve economy. However while rivals have upped the ante with plug-in hybrid technology to extend electric-only operation on their luxury SUVs, Lexus has yet to go down that route. As a result, the RX’s formerly attractive C02 figures no longer look so competitive for company car drivers calculating Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rates. Rivals nowadays with plug-in hybrid capability include everything from the Audi Q7 to the Volvo XC90, with the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE, Range Rover Sport / Velar, and Porsche Cayenne in-between. The current fourth generation RX is offered in five-seat and seven-seat guises, with the latter variant badged as the RX-L. The pair share a wheelbase, but the L has an extended rear overhang and a rear window that’s less steeply raked, modifications which create the space needed for an extra pair of seats at the back.
The only engine available in the RX is a 3.5-litre V6 petrol, which is mated to an electric motor and badged RX 450h. Like the rest of the Lexus range, no diesels are available in the RX line-up. All versions are all-wheel-drive as standard and use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) gearbox.
Lexus has also simplified the line-up in recent times, and offers three individual trim levels - RX, F Sport and Takumi - all of which are impressively equipped.
Standard equipment on all models includes climate control, heated front seats, an eight-inch display screen with navigation, DAB radio and a reversing camera. Standard driver aids and assistance features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic high beam, traffic sign recognition and automatic emergency braking, which were previously all part of an optional safety pack.
Extra equipment as you move up the range includes reclining and heated rear seats, a full-length panoramic sunroof, adaptive suspension, a power tailgate, a 360 degree top down camera system and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe new Lexus RX is bigger, more powerful and more efficient than ever, and it looks the part too
- 2Engines, performance and drivePerformance is good, but the RX would rather you take it easy
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsNo longer a top company car tax choice due to efficient plug-in hybrid rivals, but RX models hold their value well
- 4Interior, design and technologyLooks great inside and out, and has loads of equipment on board
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBoot space isn't the best, but there's plenty of room in the cabin
- 6Reliability and SafetyDriver Power results suggest the RX will be very dependable