Lexus RX (2015) Review

Looking for a Lexus RX (2015 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

Lexus RX (2015) At A Glance

4/5
Honest John Overall Rating
The RX remains a very appealing choice, made even more appealing by the fact that Lexus’ reputation for reliability and customer service is second-to-none in the car industry. For many buyers, that’ll be enough on its own, but the big Lexus has plenty more going for it besides.

+Impressively comfortable ride, really solidly built, Lexus has an impeccable reliability record.

-Infotainment system isn’t great, rivals offer a more rounded driving experience, hybrid drivetrain won’t suit long-distance drivers.

Insurance Groups are between 34–42
On average it achieves 65% of the official MPG figure

The Lexus RX has a couple of key strengths. The firm’s reliability and customer service are the envy of the motor industry, and if you fancy the idea of an SUV that’s also a self-charging hybrid, this is one of the few choices you have. If you spend your days tiptoeing around urban environments, where the RX can make maximum use of the electric bits of its powertrain, then it’ll make a lot of sense, but if you spend your days chugging up and down motorways, you’ll probably be better off with a diesel-powered rival like the Audi Q7 or BMW X5.

Looking for a Lexus RX (2015 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

It’s fair to say that the British public have never quite taken to the Lexus brand with quite the same enthusiasm as the Americans or the Japanese, but the RX is one of the firm’s success stories in the UK. 

Now in its fourth generation, it’s historically one of the firm’s best-selling cars on these shores, with earlier versions offering buyers an alternative choice in the luxury SUV market in the days when there weren’t that many to choose from. These days, though, buyers can barely move for all the luxury SUVs fighting for their custom. So, what does the latest RX do in order to stand out from a very crowded crowd?

Well, there’s one key difference, and that’s that the RX is a self-charging hybrid. Not a mild hybrid, not a plug-in hybrid, but a self-charging hybrid. Examples of both alternatives are now plentiful in the luxury SUV market, but the RX sits somewhere in between. 

With a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and two electric motors to provide occasional all-electric drive, along with permanent electrically assisted drive, it’s more sophisticated and more efficient than a mild hybrid, which might employ something as simple as a posh starter motor to technically qualify as a hybrid.

That said, it can’t match the all-electric driving range, or the fantastically ludicrous official mpg figures, of a plug-in hybrid. That said, neither is it as expensive to buy, and if you drive it in the right way, it has the potential to be just as economical in the real world. It offers you many of the same tax advantages, too. Food for thought, that.

The hybrid system is by no means all that the RX has got going for it, though. It’s more interestingly styled than most of the competition, it’s certainly less ubiquitous, and has an interior that, while maybe not quite as lustrous as the best rivals from Germany, has them matched every step of the way for build quality. It’s also supremely well stocked with kit, in terms of both luxury and safety.

Granted, we won’t go pretending the RX is perfect. The infotainment system is fiddly to use, the boot is smaller than you get in most rivals, interior space is a fraction tighter and, while the ride is impressively cosseting, some rivals manage to combine even better comfort with considerably sharper handling, so it’s not as well rounded on the road.

Ask Honest John

Can you advise me on buying a hybrid SUV for long journeys?
"I'm seeking a reliable hybrid (possibly electric) SUV 4WD that is sufficiently comfortable, economical and powerful to use chiefly for lots of 600-mile journeys on motorways. I don't really know where to start. Should I go for an older Porsche Cayenne, a Honda CR-V, a Kia Sportage, a Range Rover Sport? I don't want an Audi or BMW but would look at anything else. I could spend £30,000 or more but would prefer to compromise a bit and spend closer to £20,000. Ideally, I'd want to be able to sell it again having put 30,000 miles on the clock in four years time for a decent residual value too. Your advice would be much appreciated, please!"
I wouldn't buy a hybrid for those sorts of journeys. They're very inefficient at that sort of range, they make the most sense for short journeys in town. Cars worth looking at in your budget include the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, BMW X5 PHEV and standard hybrids like the Lexus RX and Toyota RAV4.
Answered by Russell Campbell
Is buying an older hybrid a bad choice?
"Partly because I love the model and partly because I think they (presently) fly under the ULEZ radar, I was contemplating buying a petrol or hybrid Volkswagen Touareg Mk2. The one I have seen and fancy has about 50,000 on the clock, air suspension, adaptive cruise control; the lot really. It's a 2011 model for £16,000. Would this be a crazy buy in your view or a decent deal? The car has relatively old technology now and the battery may be a bit rubbish. Is that something I could swap over to a newer one? I have had 3.0-litre diesel versions of this model and they are superb. I do not like the new version but felt this could be a decent cost-effective compromise. Many thanks."
The Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid sold in small numbers when it was new. It was expensive and - at the time - there were fewer incentives to buy a hybrid over a diesel. Today, they make more sense but, as used examples are rare, they tend to attract strong money. I'd say that £16k is at the upper end of what this car is worth, but the low mileage and high specification probably contributes to that. I'd be a little bit worried about the long-term reliability of such a complex SUV. As an alternative, have you considered a Lexus RX 450h? There are more on the market, Lexus has more experience with hybrid technology, and owners are generally extremely satisfied.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend a comfortable, refined car with easy boot access for a dog?
"We've just got a dog and I'm having to lift her into our Lexus RX. Something which, at 64, I'm finding a bit harder than I'd like. She's not keen on going up a ramp, so what d'you think we might consider as a good, smaller vehicle with easy rear access - something she might more readily just jump into? The RX is much larger than we need now - mostly just myself, wife, dog and occasional bags for weekend trips - but I do like something which is relaxed, quiet and comfortable on a long journey."
A Kia Niro sounds like a good option. It's a hybrid, like your RX, but smaller and with easier access for your greyhound as there's virtually no load lip. It also represents good value for money and comes with a seven-year warranty. Alternatively, you could consider a more conventional estate car. A Skoda Octavia or Superb could be a good option - both are very refined with big boots. There's a plug-in hybrid version of the Superb, badged the iV, if that appeals.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Is It possible to buy a hybrid SUV that can tow a 2000kg caravan?
"Is It possible to buy a hybrid SUV that can tow a 2000kg caravan?"
Yes - the Lexus RX450h has a towing capacity of 2000kg. Also consider plug-in hybrids like the Volvo XC90 T8 and Range Rover Sport PHEV - both of which will comfortably tow a 2000kg caravan. They're not cheap choices, however.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What does a Lexus RX (2015) cost?