There’s good reason that you see the Lexus RX coming and going just about everywhere. Whether new or used since its 1998 debut, this mid-sized luxury crossover hit the sweet spot in a market ripe for quality workmanship.

Four generations later, the RX has been updated, restyled last in 2016 and this year adds bundled software and useful features to its remote app.

Pros: Quiet as a church mouse, compliant ride, sumptuous interior.

Cons: Newer third row seat is cramped, electric all-wheel-drive system lacking, not all safety gear standard

Slotted between the smaller NX model and larger GX SUV, the RX is sold as a well-equipped base or hybrid with either F Sport package, third row seat or both available. Our review is focused on the three-row, six passenger 450h L hybrid model introduced in 2018.

Compared with other hybrid luxury SUVs, its base $46,245 is a relative bargain at nearly 30 miles per gallon with decent acceleration, most safety gear standard and a stylish interior.

For some reason, Lexus designers are strong on its big, stout front grille that sets it apart for sure. They maintain the look, which stretches across most of the Lexus lineup, is designed for the urban upscale Millennial. All right then.

Interior treatment is fashionable with soft touch materials where needed, numerous cubby-holes for storage at all doors, center console in first and second rows and ample cargo.

The L designation extends seating to three rows with captain’s chairs in the second row. Third row seats are power operated and are best utilized in their folded position unless small children are on board.

Engine performance is what you would expect in a refined luxury SUV and Lexus does not disappoint. Its hybrid drive system includes a standard V6 and three electric motors mated with a continuously variable transmission.

Total output is 306 horsepower and combined fuel efficiency with torque control all wheel drive is 29 mpg, about 10 mpg more than its gasoline powered sibling.

It is worth noting that the hybrid’s all-wheel-drive kicks in with one of the electric motors sending power to its rear wheels when slippage occurs as opposed to all wheel drive, all the time.

The Lexus received top safety ratings from government and private testing agencies and a Superior rating in front crash tests avoiding collisions in up to 25 mph.

Under the what’s new category, Lexus Enform Remote app makes available an interface for your compatible smartwatch and Alexa. Once connected it will stop or start your engine, lock and unlock doors, locate your Lexus in a parking lot or elsewhere and check status. Pretty cool. A one-year trial subscription is included.

On the flip side, Lexus does not offer support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

What brings Lexus owners back time and again is its whisper quiet ride, handling and craftsmanship throughout and the 450hL version is no exception. There are rivals to consider though and the list includes Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, Lincoln Navigator and Jaguar F-Pace.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at

Recommended for you