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Used car tests

Used Lexus RX (Mk4, 2016-2022) review: a rare but desirable premium SUV

A full used buyers guide on the Lexus RX focusing on the RX Mk4 that was on sale between 2016 and 2022

Verdict

Lexus has never conquered the premium market by claiming a large share of sales, but its rivals can’t match its reputation for quality, reliability and customer service.With Lexus’s unique take on interior and exterior design as well as engineering, the RX is unlike its rivals, so if you’re after an alternative to the more obvious European marques, this could be it. Lexus is one of the most successful brands in our Driver Power surveys and the RX has scooped many plaudits, so there’s a lot to like about it. But in our various group tests over the years, we’ve generally found the alternatives to be more appealing overall, so it’s worth trying out some rivals before committing.

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This year marks 25 years since the original Lexus RX went on sale in Japan, although it didn’t arrive in the UK until two years later. For a long time the RX has been seen as the default hybrid SUV, but the first- generation model came only with a petrol engine and no hybrid tech; that wouldn’t be introduced until the Mk2 in 2004.

This car has since become increasingly important to Lexus. By the time the Mk4 arrived, the RX accounted for 30 per cent of all of the cars sold by the Toyota subsidiary. Despite consistent high scores in our Driver Power surveys, Lexus still isn’t a brand that a lot of people think of when buying a used car, so should the RX be on your shortlist?

History

The Mk4 RX hit UK showrooms in January 2016. Buyers could pick between the RX 200t, which started at £39,995, and the RX 450h, priced from £46,995. The former had a 234bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which drove either the front or all four wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Lexus fitted the RX 450h with a 259bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that was backed up by a 67bhp electric motor, with all four wheels driven via a continuously variable transmission. In June 2018, the Japanese manufacturer launched its first ever seven-seater in the UK: the RX 450hL. This was 11cm longer than the regular RX model.

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A facelift in early 2020 brought refreshed styling, improved infotainment with better connectivity, recalibrated suspension and a stiffer bodyshell, plus more driver- assistance systems.

Which one should I buy?

The RX 200t is ultra-rare, so you’ll almost certainly buy a five-seat RX 450h. Seven-seat editions are much more unusual, and they’re not that much bigger. The RX L is ‘only’ five metres long, so the third row of seats isn’t roomy enough for adults.

All RXs are well equipped, though, with entry-level models having adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, front and rear parking sensors and a rear camera, plus automatic headlights and wipers. They also have 18-inch alloy wheels, navigation, an electrically adjustable steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, leather trim and LED headlights.

Luxury trim adds 20-inch alloys, a bigger (12.3-inch) infotainment display, powered tailgate and wireless phone charging. The RX Premier has a 15-speaker hi-fi, around-view camera, panoramic roof, heated steering wheel and a head-up display.

Alternatives to the Lexus RX

The RX is up against some very tough opposition, not least of all the Mercedes GLE Mk1 and Mk2, which came in plug-in hybrid form. The Merc is also available with seven seats, but the Audi Q7 has these as standard; this also came with a plug-in diesel hybrid option (the e-tron).

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The leader of the pack dynamically is the Porsche Cayenne, which came in plug-in form (the E-Hybrid), just like the Range Rover Sport Mk2 (2013-2022), with the plug-in edition known as the P400e. The BMW X5 Mk4 is also a superb all-rounder, which, like all of the cars here, comes with some brilliant engines, including the plug-in hybrid xDrive45e. And don’t forget the seven-seat Volvo XC90, which is another very impressive contender.

What to look for

Cat thefts

The RX is a prime target for catalytic converter thieves, so check there’s no underside damage caused by an angle grinder.

Top tyres

Whatever tyres are fitted, when they need replacing it’s Michelin Cross Climates that get the most love from fellow owners.

Economy

Lexus claimed that 50+ mpg was possible with the RX 450h. In reality, owners tend to average from 35-38mpg overall, maybe more on a run.

Wheels

The lacquer on diamond-cut wheels inevitably corrodes. Refurbishing is possible for £100 per rim, but pitting will return if you go for the same finish.

Interior

If you’re used to German design you might be a little underwhelmed by the RX’s dash, but the quality is up there with the best and it’s intuitive enough. But the infotainment of pre-facelift cars isn’t as good as what you’ll find in later models.

Cabin space is also impressive, with plenty of head and legroom for those in the second row, although row three in the RX L is only suitable for kids. The fitment of a battery pack reduces boot space a bit, with 539/1,579 litres available in the RX, while the RX L can accommodate 591 litres, or 1,656 litres if you fold the second and third row.

Prices

We found just one RX 200t for sale, a 2016 Luxury with 24,000 miles on the clock. The RX 450h is more readily available than you might think, but the five-seat edition outnumbers the seven-seater by about 10 to one. The most popular trim is F Sport, accounting for a third of the RXs available, with Takumi the next most common. Be prepared to travel to buy the right car, though.

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To check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.

Running costs

All RXs need to be serviced every 12 months or 10,000 miles. Maintenance alternates between Intermediate (£340) and Full (£660), the latter cost including replacement brake fluid every other year or 20,000 miles, while fresh coolant is needed after 10 years or 100,000 miles, then every 60,000 miles.

Hybrid models have a separate cooling system for the inverter (electrics), and the coolant should be replaced after 15 years or 150,000 miles, then every 60,000 miles. Expect to pay around £200 for fresh engine coolant and about £100 for the inverter coolant. RX engines are chain-driven, so there are no cambelts to replace.

The RX came with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, with the hybrid powertrain guaranteed for five years or 60,000 miles.

Recalls

Demonstrating how thoroughly engineered the RX is, the Mk4 has been recalled just twice so far. The first was launched in November 2016, less than a year after the model hit the road in the UK. The problem centred on airbags that could go off for no reason; some RXs and Toyota Prius models built up to June 2016 were affected.

The second recall was issued in October 2020 and it affected most of the models in Lexus’s range – especially (but not exclusively) those with a hybrid powertrain. A fault within the fuel pump could lead to the engine being starved of petrol. Across the Lexus range 6,787 cars were caught up in the campaign, all of which were made between September 2013 and September 2019. To see if an RX is subject to any recalls, go to tinyurl.com/2p8zjp64.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

Lexus has always done well in our Driver Power surveys, but it’s impressive that a recently replaced model should be third. That’s where the RX Mk4 came in our 2023 New Car poll, while it was 11th in the Used Car survey. The RX scored highly for reliability, practicality and interior quality, cabin design and ride quality. The main negatives were high running costs, including poor fuel economy.

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