Pros: interior quality, equipment levels, refinement
Cons: no seven-seat option
Now into its fifth generation, the Lexus RX represents the top tier of the Japanese brand’s SUV range and, for the most part, will now only be available as a plug-in hybrid in Ireland. An evolutionary exterior design introduces softer lines, while new platform architecture provides more interior space.
Lexus RX 450h+ Design
Thanks to the new Lexus GA-K platform architecture, which the RX shares with the smaller NX, the overall length remains unchanged from the outgoing car, but the wheelbase increases by 60mm, benefitting passenger space. Equally impressive is that Lexus has also been able to integrate a plug-in hybrid system without compromising on that space or the boot volume.
Though Lexus is known for its angular designs, the new RX adopts softer lines, yet remains distinctly different to its German rivals. A fresh take on the company’s signature spindle front grille blends into the surrounding bodywork, while slender LED headlights carry L-shaped daytime running lights - and all models sit on 21-inch wheels as standard.
A gently sloping roofline falls into the C-pillar, reminiscent of the previous RX. Following the smaller NX’s style, a light bar extends across the rear of the leading edge of the boot lid, and the Lexus word mark appears instead of a logo badge.
Lexus RX 450h+ Interior
Few car makers enjoy such a formidable reputation for building great interiors as Lexus, and this new RX is no different. Echoing what was introduced in the NX, the new RX features what Lexus refers to as its Tazuna cockpit design. Placing controls in more intuitive positions enables drivers to keep their eyes on the road for longer. The concept includes multifunction touchpads on the steering wheel that indicate their respective functions on the head-up display.
A sizeable 14-inch touchscreen runs a much-improved native infotainment system, and Lexus also throws in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s a healthy mix of touchscreen and physical buttons inside, along with plenty of storage that includes a centre console cover that opens in both directions; there are numerous charging options ranging from wireless charge pads to 12-volt sockets.
The front seats are eight-way electrically adjustable, with higher-spec versions getting10-way adjustment. Thanks to that 60mm stretch between the front and rear wheels, the rear passenger compartment grows to bring even more comfort for those travelling in the back. Lexus will not produce a seven-seat version this time as it did with the previous RX. However, thanks to the new platform architecture being designed to accommodate a plug-in hybrid system from the outset, there is no loss of space. The boot holds up to 612 litres of luggage.
Lexus RX 450h+ Performance & Drive
The Lexus RX’s strong suit is its refinement, and it’s abundantly clear as soon as you begin driving it. A 18.1kWh battery can supply around 65 kilometres of pure electric driving, after which the RX reverts to a regular hybrid mode, alternating between its electric motor and the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Improvements to the automatic transmission mean the power delivery is smoother than before and requires lower engine speeds.
Even when the combustion engine is running, the RX remains impressively quiet thanks to generous levels of sound insulation. Any initial concern regarding the standard fitment of 21-inch wheels harming the ride quality fade quickly as the Lexus does a superb job at soaking up surface imperfections and bumps. The adaptive variable suspension, which is standard on Premium grade, helps with that.
It isn’t a car that is overtly sporty, nor is the suspension tuned in a way to make it feel dynamic. It will squat down at the rear under harder acceleration and exhibit a small degree of body roll in faster bends. Still, it remains surefooted and predictable at all times. The RX is a car that delivers its best performance when driven in a more relaxed fashion. A combined maximum power output of 309hp enables 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds, while the official combined fuel consumption figure is a mere 1.1 litres/100km.
Lexus RX 450h+ Pricing
Pricing for the Lexus RX 450h+ starts at €87,330 for the Luxury specification. There is quite a good level of standard equipment, too, including keyless entry, 21-inch wheels, triple LED headlights and smooth leather upholstery inside. The 14-inch touchscreen is standard, as is a heated steering wheel and heated electrically adjustable front seats.
The Premium grade costs €95,700 and adds upgraded LED headlights and adaptive variable suspension. Semi-aniline leather upholstery drapes 10-way adjustable seats that are heated and ventilated, too. A 10-inch head-up display for the driver and 21-speaker Mark Levinson stereo are also standard at this level.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
The Lexus RX 450h+ differentiates itself from other premium SUVs in this segment by doubling down on build quality and refinement. While few will describe the driving experience as exciting, it is tremendously comfortable and impressively quiet on the move, while its plug-in hybrid system does enough to provide for a mostly EV-like driving affair in everyday situations.