This 2020 RX 450h Is The Best RX You Can Buy

The driving expertise of your fashionable SUV owes a terrific deal to the Lexus RX. When it took residence our inaugural SUV of the Year in 1999, we praised the RX for not compromising on journey high quality, gas economic system, and dealing with the way in which most different SUVs did for the advantage of occasional off-roading. The success of the RX is a part of the rationale your crossover doesn’t drive like a shrunken pickup.

It’s been a gross sales chief for Lexus for the final twenty years, and we are able to definitively say the 2020 RX 450h is one of the best of this bunch. Not the fuel V-6 mannequin, not the three-row RX L, undoubtedly not the flashy and expensive F Sport or F Sport Efficiency variants; the hybrid. That’s to not say it’s a automobile with out flaws—it most actually is just not—however reasonably that it’s a midsize luxurious SUV price your consideration. Let’s dive in, lets?

RX 450h Engine and Gas Financial system

For the RX 450h, Lexus takes the three.5-liter V-6 from the RX 350 and augments it with three electrical motors: a starter-generator that additionally controls transmission ratios; a 165-hp entrance drive motor; and a 67-hp rear drive motor. Peak system output sums to 308 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. That provides the hybrid extra energy however much less twist than the usual RX. Once we drove each automobiles back to back in Costa Rica last year, the hybrid was noticeably extra energetic.

The hybrid additionally swaps the RX 350’s eight-speed automated for an e-CVT that chooses the optimum transmission ratio of fuel and electrical energy enter for the quantity of propulsion requested by your proper foot. All hybridized RX fashions function customary AWD. As you’ll count on, all the electrical motors and variable ratios lead to a big gas economic system benefit.

The RX 450h is EPA-rated for 31/28 mpg metropolis/freeway. These numbers are up from 19/26 mpg in an AWD RX 350, and so they exceed the slightly more powerful Acura MDX Sport Hybrid’s 26/27 mpg by some margin.

Even with the additional gear and consequent gas economic system benefit, the hybrid mannequin instructions only a $1,250 premium over a comparable RX 350. That’s a 2.6 p.c value leap in alternate for a 36 p.c achieve in effectivity. For somewhat context, Acura prices an additional $1,500 to improve to MDX Sport Hybrid from a comparable fuel MDX, nevertheless it requires that you just spec the $5,000 Know-how bundle and solely presents 23 p.c gas economic system features. Though the hybrid Acura and Lexus are equally priced when equally geared up, the Lexus has a decrease start line by over $5,000.


This fourth-generation RX was launched for the 2016 mannequin yr, and it receives a mid-cycle replace for 2020 with vital modifications to the infotainment system. Each the usual 8.0-inch and non-compulsory 12.3-inch infotainment shows achieve touchscreen performance, and all RXs now embody Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration.

The laptop-like touchpad we’ve aimed not-so-nice phrases at previously remains to be a flawed interface. I used to be all the time capable of ultimately spotlight the meant part of the display, however the touchpad is imprecise; similar inputs didn’t all the time generate the identical output. Haptic suggestions that vibrates via the touchpad with every new choice improves the state of affairs barely, however I’d nonetheless choose a rotary dial.

Our complaints can be mitigated if the brand new touchscreen was a pleasure to make use of. It isn’t. I’ve no complaints about its response occasions or fingerprint accumulation or contact detection.

Downside is, the cabin ergonomics simply weren’t designed for a touchscreen, and in consequence, it’s simply out of comfy attain from the motive force’s seat, even with this 6-foot-1-inch editor’s lanky arms.

I do, nonetheless, have nice appreciation for the buttons and knobs within the middle stack. There’s nothing distinctive concerning the {hardware} itself—apart from the lusciously weighted quantity knob that is likely to be my favourite side of the automobile—however reasonably, their presence within the first place.

Even the least technologically literate driver or passenger can have no downside adjusting the temperature, altering the radio station, or activating their (non-compulsory) heated and cooled seats. That’s not one thing that may essentially be stated for screen-heavy inside design from automakers like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and especially Tesla. I’ll additionally take this chance to precise my fondness for the good-looking analog clock.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto performance are a large step ahead from a person interface standpoint. There’s nothing heinous concerning the Lexus techniques for media or maps, apart from wanting a few decade outdated. With music and navigation operating via a well-known app in your cellphone, the system is successfully future-proofed.

However what about truly piloting the RX 450h alongside its navigation software program’s low-res pixelated roads?

Driving the RX 450h

This can be a automobile that’s shockingly straightforward to speed up easily. It feels as if the primary third of the throttle pedal’s journey solely opens the throttle about 10 p.c. I discovered it practically not possible to tug away from a cease with no degree of grace.

That ethos carries over to the remainder of the RX’s inputs. The brakes have an preliminary softness that makes them exceptionally straightforward to modulate. The responsive CVT constantly delivers the best ratio for the engine to ship the extent of energy wanted. The steering is gradual and light-weight, and there’s not a lot suggestions, however the RX is effortlessly placeable. After 10 minutes behind the wheel of the RX, you’ll be driving like a Rolls-Royce chauffeur school alumnus.

I had been firmly in camp “CVT unhealthy, actual transmission all the time higher,” however this RX has me reconsidering my loyalties. Positive, it has the engine moaning at fixed rpm like an overstressed generator while you’re accelerating, however more often than not it retains the engine buzzing quietly alongside round 1,000 rpm, prepared for you while you want it. While you do want it, the engine and electrical motors present ample energy for accelerating from a brief on-ramp or passing automobiles on the freeway. It’s a superior unit to the RX 350’s reluctant eight-speed auto.

There have been loads of cases in my time with the RX that I used to be capable of overlook this automobile even has an engine. It begs the query, why hassle with the V-6? The RX looks as if a pure candidate for the Toyota RAV4 Prime’s 302-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain. If the present engine isn’t including to the expertise, why not exchange it with a extra environment friendly plug-in hybrid 4 with related energy and usable electrical vary?

The suspension delivers a cushty and sure, easy, journey. It’s one of many higher automobiles I’ve skilled on I-405’s damaged highway floor in that regard. There’s little physique roll and respectable management over physique actions, however the RX with out query prioritizes the softer, extra comfort-oriented facet of the ride-handling stability. The tires will audibly protest lateral forces sooner than some, however solely after I was driving extra aggressively than I count on most house owners to drive a automobile like this.


Let’s see, what did I overlook? There’s loads of room within the again seat for me to take a seat behind my very own seating place. Room for 3, too, due to the shortage of a drive-shaft tunnel that might create a large hump the place the middle passenger’s toes would stay. The non-compulsory head-up show is just not sufficiently vibrant to cope with southern California solar. There are six USB charging ports. In the event you shut the door with the window down, you’ll hear a hole thwonk that I’d criticize for sounding too low-cost on a $20,000 automobile.

However greater than something, the driving expertise of the RX, and particularly the RX 450h, is the polar reverse of truck-like. After greater than 20 years and numerous opponents, it nonetheless delivers a comfort-first drive matched solely by sure luxurious sedans and air-suspended SUVs that eclipse its comparatively modest value level.

It’s the best value in its segment, posts one of the best gas economic system numbers of the group, and has been a pleasure to stay with. Shortly said, it’s one of the best RX but.

 SPECIFICATIONS 2020 Lexus RX 450h
BASE PRICE $47,825
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.5L/259-hp/247-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 plus 165-hp entrance & 67-hp rear electrical motors; 308 hp comb
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT 4,800 lb (MT est)
WHEELBASE 109.Eight in
L x W x H 192.5 x 74.6 x 67.7 in
0-60 MPH 7.Zero sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 31/28/30 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 109/120 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.66 lb/mile
ON SALE Presently


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