The expressively styled Lexus RX is easy and coddling.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The 2021 Lexus RX 450h F Sport hybrid crossover is sinuous, frugal and impressively quiet — precisely what I need in a luxurious car. There’s, nevertheless, one side of this Lexus that is unforgivable, a mortal sin that drags down an in any other case nice car: the infotainment system. 

Like

Stellar Mark Levinson sound systemSpacious and comfy backseatExemplary refinement

Do not Like

Loathsome infotainment systemToo-aggressive exterior stylingMeh real-world gas financial system

Hybrid variations of the RX come normal with all-wheel drive, however this instance can also be fitted with the F Sport bundle, which incorporates dress-up objects like a novel grille, aluminum pedal covers, 20-inch wheels and even efficiency dampers. For additional sportiness, a $970 dealing with bundle can also be provided, bringing an adaptive suspension system, retuned energy steering and extra goodies to the desk. Past these F Sport upgrades, my tester options the Black Line Particular Version bundle. The excellent news is that this improve prices simply $685 and consists of particular body-side graphics, a black grille encompass and a Halliburton Edge light-weight two-piece baggage set. The unhealthy information is the Black Line Particular Version bundle is proscribed to simply 750 gas-powered RXs and 250 hybrid fashions.

The Lexus RX’s styling is actually aggressive, with its comically massive grille, angular headlamps and chiseled surfacing, however its inside is far more restrained and nice. The cabin’s high quality is stellar and its supplies are typically superb. The headliner and roof pillars are wrapped in a flannel-like cloth, mushy plastics are used liberally all through and practically all of the switches and knobs really feel slickly lubricated. Positive, you may discover a smattering of Toyota-sourced buttons right here and there; stuff you get in, say, a Camry, however these carryover controls are effectively hidden and hardly objectionable.

Simply behind this Lexus’ unusually deep dashboard, the entrance bucket chairs are all-day snug and engaging, rendered in black and white with contrasting blue stitching, a combo that is additionally a part of the Black Line Particular Version bundle. Cupboard space up entrance is sweet, consisting of a decently sized bin underneath the middle armrest, just a few different small cubbies on the console and generously proportioned entrance door pockets that pop outward once you pull on them. Shifting rearward, the RX’s backseat is almost sprawl-out spacious, with loads of legroom and an honest quantity of noggin house. Comfy cushions present nice help, with the decrease one being a pleasant distance above the ground for a chair-like seating place. Offering easy accessibility, this Lexus’ rear doorways open good and huge.

However now for some unhealthy information. If there is a worse infotainment system than what’s provided on this Lexus, I am not conscious of it. With a bewildering consumer interface in addition to a clunky and difficult-to-use management pad on the console, this multimedia system is half laptop computer, half low-end Android pill and every kind of horrible. Not solely is the menu construction complicated, the observe pad you employ to navigate via it’s kludgy, making even easy duties a distracting chore. Rubbing salt within the wound, this RX 450h can also be fitted with the top-shelf 12.3-inch display screen (an 8-incher is normal), which is bundled in a $3,365 choices bundle, so that you’re paying hundreds extra for an terrible expertise. No less than that outlay additionally will get you embedded navigation and an excellent Mark Levinson sound system that makes even extremely compressed MP3s and muddy satellite tv for pc radio come alive. Whereas a little bit of a attain, the RX’s infotainment display screen is touch-enabled, so you possibly can skip the trackpad, however provided that your arms are lanky sufficient. Fortunately, this method additionally helps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (in addition to Amazon Alexa), so you do not have to make use of the infotainment system any longer than it takes to plug your cellphone in. The car’s six USB ports guarantee everybody’s cellular gadgets are absolutely juiced; a wi-fi charging pad can also be obtainable.

The RX’s inside is extraordinarily effectively constructed and refined, although its infotainment tech leaves a lot to be desired.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The Lexus RX was up to date in 2020, gaining a stiffened construction and revised suspension for higher dealing with. This yr, the car beneficial properties some new know-how, together with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, each of which are actually normal throughout the vary. Auto-dimming, power-folding mirrors are included at no additional cost, too, as is Lexus Security System Plus 2.0, a collection of driver aids that features daytime bike owner detection, low-light pedestrian detection, highway signal recognition and lane-keeping help. Fortunately, I’ve not had a chance to check the pedestrian-detecting programs, however the lane-keeping assist is light but fairly efficient.

Underway, the RX 450h is one easy operator. Whether or not you are traversing frost-heaved highways, tiptoeing alongside a cratered filth highway or simply cruising round your subdivision, this Lexus’ experience is at all times sinuous. Even rolling on 20-inch wheels, small enlargement joints barely register and bigger impacts are simply deflected, all with no harshness or gritty vibration percolating via to the passenger compartment. Regardless of its easy experience, the RX 450h’s physique is decently managed. Positive, it may really feel a bit tighter in corners and it may be good if the steering have been faster and heftier, however the entire chassis feels so effectively balanced that these modifications aren’t obligatory, plus they could break the fluffy experience, which might be a disgrace.

Refined, punchy and economical, there’s little to complain about relating to the RX 450h’s powertrain. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Matching its over-the-road refinement, the RX’s cabin stays extremely silent, quieter than naptime in a nursing residence, with nearly no wind, tire or engine noise being heard. The RX 450h’s hybrid powertrain is constructed round a 3.5-liter V6, one augmented by two electrical motor-generators up entrance that kind a repeatedly variable transmission, and a separate motor on the rear, which supplies all-wheel drive. Whispering whereas it really works, this association supplies a internet 308 horsepower, although a torque determine will not be listed as a result of the mathematics with hybrids is bizarre. By itself, nevertheless, the V6 engine whips up 247 pound-feet of twist. The RX 450h’s simple dealing with and all-wheel drive add immensely to my confidence sooner or later because the climate goes from drab to harmful, with a winter storm dumping sleet on the roadways.

Stand on the accelerator and this Lexus scoots. Efficiency, whereas not awe-inspiring, remains to be superb, the engine sounding prefer it’s working far off within the distance reasonably than just a few inches forward of your toes. The hybrid elements of this drivetrain are equally polished, barely drawing any consideration to themselves. The brake pedal can also be pleasant, with a seamless transition between regenerative and friction braking. For added versatility, the RX 450h presents an EV mode, which lets you run it solely on electrons. The onboard battery pack has sufficient juice so that you can sneak down a cul-du-sac or into the storage with out working the engine, however as quickly as you go too quick or prod the throttle too aggressively the engine fires up. Bear in mind, this isn’t a plug-in hybrid, so electric-only vary will not be the first focus.

Reducing gas consumption, nevertheless, is one among this Lexus’ principal goals. Count on 31 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 28 mpg on freeway drives. In blended use, the RX 450h ought to return 30 mpg, nevertheless, in the true world I solely common round 25.1, a disappointing rating. It is usually a breeze to fulfill and even exceed marketed fuel-economy scores in Toyota hybrids, which makes this efficiency (or lack thereof) a little bit of a shock.

The Lexus RX is one thing of a blended bag.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

With its upscale inside, refined manners and, sure, unlucky infotainment tech, a base 2021 Lexus RX 450h begins at simply shy of $49,000, together with $1,025 in vacation spot charges. That is about $2,650 greater than an entry-level, front-wheel-drive, non-hybrid RX 350. Because it sits, this F Sport instance checks out for $59,380, a determine goosed by just a few add-ons like a $200 wi-fi charger, $640 heated and ventilated entrance seats, $1,365 for parking help and a 360-degree digicam system, plus just a few further goodies. Nonetheless, that outlay will get you a family-friendly car that is extra docile and refined than the sportier Acura MDX and, due to its aggressive styling (which you’ll or could not love), extra visually attention-grabbing than a Lincoln Nautilus or Mercedes-Benz GLC.

There’s an abundance of luxurious crossovers obtainable at this time, nice examples from German, American and Asian automakers. Loads of them provide upscale interiors and a great deal of fancy options, however few are as refined, gas environment friendly — and in a single specific means — irritating as this principally likable Lexus.

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