The Lexus RX comes in two basic forms: RX 350 and RX 450h. The RX 350 is powered by a smooth 3.5L V6 engine and produces 295 horsepower. With this engine, 60 mph arrives in under eight seconds, and the RX 350 achieves 28 mpg on the highway in front-wheel drive trim. The RX 450h combines a traditional gasoline engine with an electric motor for a total of 308 horsepower. Fuel economy jumps to 30 mpg on the highway for front-wheel-drive versions. The only transmission available is an 8-speed automatic, while all-wheel drive is optional on either version of the RX.
Both the RX 350 and the RX 450h are also available in F SPORT guise, further enhancing both the interior and exterior styling, while also tightening up the handling. The F SPORT package adds an 8-inch LCD display instrument cluster, unique quilted seats, adjustable suspension, interior aluminum trim accents and drilled aluminum pedals. Outside, the F SPORT gets a blacked-out grill, plus exclusive 20-inch wheels.
Option packages available on the RX 350 include a Luxury Package with perforated leather seats, a nicer powered driver's seat, 20-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel and Gray Sapele wood trim. A Navigation Package adds a 12.3-inch color screen for the navigation system, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, voice command, a DVD player, dual-zone climate control and Lexus Enform app suite. A Lexus Safety System package includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar controlled cruise control, a lane keep assist and lane departure warning system, intelligent high beam headlights and premium triple beam LED headlights.
The 2021RX 450h F Sport hybrid crossover is sinuous, frugal and impressively quiet -- exactly what I want in a luxury vehicle. There is, however, one aspect of this Lexus that's unforgivable, a mortal sin that drags down an otherwise pleasant vehicle: the infotainment system.
Hybrid versions of the RX come standard with all-wheel drive, but this example is also fitted with the F Sport package, which includes dress-up items like a unique grille, aluminum pedal covers, 20-inch wheels and even performance dampers. For extra sportiness, a $970 handling package is also offered, bringing an adaptive suspension system, retuned power steering and more goodies to the table. Beyond those F Sport upgrades, my tester features the Black Line Special Edition package. The good news is this upgrade costs just $685 and includes special body-side graphics, a black grille surround and a Halliburton Edge lightweight two-piece luggage set. The bad news is the Black Line Special Edition package is limited to just 750 gas-powered RXs and 250 hybrid models.
The Lexus RX's styling is certainly aggressive, with its comically large grille, angular headlamps and chiseled surfacing, but its interior is much more restrained and pleasant. The cabin's quality is stellar and its materials are generally very good. The headliner and roof pillars are wrapped in a flannel-like fabric, soft plastics are used liberally throughout and nearly all the switches and knobs feel slickly lubricated. Sure, you'll find a smattering of Toyota-sourced buttons here and there; stuff you get in, say, a Camry, but these carryover controls are well hidden and hardly objectionable.
The Good ~ Stellar Mark Levinson sound system ~ Spacious and comfortable backseat ~ Exemplary refinement
The Bad ~ Loathsome infotainment system ~ Too-aggressive exterior styling ~ Meh real-world fuel economy
The Bottom Line The Lexus RX 450h is plenty luxurious, even if not every aspect is pleasant.
When heading south to the Long Beach Grand Prix, I take the scenic route in a Lexus IS 500 F Sport.
It's super exclusive and covered in high-zoot performance parts, but the driving experience is less than their sum.
This limited-edition RC F looks and sounds ferocious, but there isn't much bite to back up that bark.
You'd never know there's a 5.0-liter V8 lurking under this sedan's hood.
The IS 500 is less expensive than its German performance rivals.
The Lexus IS 500 is a competent performance car, but don't expect an IS F revival.
This is the first time Stellantis' truck brand has ever topped the list.
Lexus' F Sport trim is now available on the ES hybrid, but don't expect this sedan to drive the way it looks; this is still a smooth, quiet and comfortable car.