Lexus RX Review 2024
Lexus RX At A Glance
The Lexus RX was a trendsetter in the luxury SUV class, being one of the earliest hybrid models available. The latest version of the RX builds on that legacy, with either regular hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains available. It now faces plenty of rivals, though, including the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
In the world of upmarket SUVs, the Lexus RX is one of the longest-serving models around. The first version was launched all the way back in 1998, and we are now enter the fifth generation with this brand-new model.
Lexus makes big claims for its latest SUV, with the promise of it being completely reinvented and offering a ‘step-change in dynamic performance’. There is the company’s first use of a turbocharged hybrid engine, plus there’s an all-new plug-in hybrid model.
In fact, the entire Lexus RX range is now hybrid-only. Lexus had always been ahead of the curve in terms of hybridisation. A petrol-electric hybrid version of the second-generation Lexus RX was revealed in 2004, making it one of the earliest SUVs to gain electric power. As such, Lexus is arguably the industry-leader in producing hybrid SUVs.
The Lexus RX 350h is now the entry-level ‘self-charging’ hybrid, using the same 250PS 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motors found in the Toyota RAV4. All UK-specification Lexus RX models come with E-Four all-wheel drive, which uses a separate electric motor to power each axle.
At the top of the range is the high-performance 371PS Lexus RX 500h. This has the new turbocharged 2.4-litre engine and, somewhat unusually for a hybrid Lexus, comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. The other two Lexus RX models have a continuously variable auto transmission (CVT) – as used in Toyota/Lexus hybrid vehicles for decades.
Sandwiched between the two regular hybrids is the first Lexus RX plug-in hybrid. The Lexus RX 450h+ boasts 309PS, and uses an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack to drive up to 43 miles on electric power alone. This ability, and the correspondingly low official CO2 emissions figures, make the Lexus RX 450h+ very attractive to company car drivers.
Even though Lexus has promised a change in dynamics, on the road the Lexus RX cannot match the level of engagement found in its closest rivals. There is plenty of grip, and a low centre of gravity dictates that it should be able to corner with gusto. However, body-roll is less contained than in a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne, meaning keener drivers will be likely to back-off from more committed progress. This is despite a ride quality at the firm end of the scale, although it never gets uncomfortable.
In truth, the Lexus RX is best enjoyed as a luxury SUV above all else. This starts with door handles that open electrically, instead of mechanically, and continues with an interior trimmed in plush materials. Even entry-level Premium Pack versions feel suitably upmarket on the inside, while the range-topping Takumi is genuinely quite special.
Levels of standard equipment are also strong. Combined with the Lexus RX’s competitive pricing, this makes it good value for money. Only a smaller boot than other hybrid-powered SUVs is likely to be an issue for those considering a Lexus RX.
Beyond that, this is a hugely impressive luxury SUV, with efficient hybrid powertrains adding to the sense of serenity inside.