Lexus RX 2021 review

The RX is a large SUV that’s purely sold with hybrid powertrains

£25,826
Average price
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1
Out of 5

Pros

  • Superb build quality
  • Very comfortable
  • Impressive reliability record

Cons

  • Not as efficient as you might expect
  • Infotainment system lags behind rivals
  • Not as practical as a car of this size should be
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    134 - 138 g/km

Model review

Though Lexus might be one of the newer premium brands – not launching until 1989 – it’s always been quite quick to cotton on to trends. So this Japanese brand was actually one of the earliest to launch an upmarket SUV, well ahead of Audi and Volvo in fact. 

The result was the RX 300 – a model that would be launched in the UK in 1998 and would quickly become the brand’s best-seller, accounting for half of sales. It was always intended to be more of a soft-roader, with Lexus making no pledges to its rugged capabilities.

A second-generation would launch in 2003, and key to this more modern-looking car was the introduction of a hybrid version in 2005. It was Lexus’ first hybrid and key to the brand becoming renowned for its electrified versions ever since. 

By 2009 and the third generation, Lexus would only offer the RX as a hybrid in the UK, with this model boasting a more classy and elegant look. The RX has been key to expanding this Japanese firm’s SUV range, with smaller NX and UX versions launching, alongside a seven-seat RX L version.

Latest model

The boldest RX yet would launch in 2016, with this current-generation model continuing to look striking to this day thanks to its sharp LED lights, angular design and bold grille that dominates the front end. 

Though it would initially be available with a petrol engine, this option would be discontinued a year later, with the hybrid being the only option to remain ever since. 

The RX was last majorly revised in 2019, with changes including new bumpers and a new ‘Spindle’ grille to give the model a sportier look. Changes to the dynamics were also made, with Lexus promising enhanced stability and a more linear steering feel. More advanced LED headlights were also fitted, while a new touchscreen was also included, coming with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

 

Value for money

With prices starting from £52,515 for a new RX, it’s one of the more affordable large premium SUVs on the market – undercutting rivals such as the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 to the tune of several thousand pounds. Standard equipment is also generous, and includes 20-inch alloy wheels, heated and electric front seats and a large touchscreen. Prices push onwards to just over £60,000 for a range-topping Takumi model, though considering the level of luxury included in that version, it doesn’t seem like too bad value. 

If you’re on the lookout for a used RX, prices for early examples start from as little as £1,500, while the cheapest hybrid models are available from around £4,000. 

If you fancy an example of the latest generation, expect a 2016 car with around 50,000 miles on the clock to go for around £27,000, which gets you a lot of car for the money. You could also expect to save around £10,000 by choosing a nearly-new example, making this a worthy alternative to a brand-new example. 


Looks and image

Lexus cars have undoubtedly become far bolder with their styling in recent years, and the latest RX is no exception. Headed up by its huge ‘Spindle’ grille that dominates the vast majority of the front end, it’s a model that certainly stands out on the road. A sharp angular design runs throughout the RX’s body, while all versions benefit from stylish LED headlights, too. 

Inside, the RX feels every bit like a premium model, with high-quality materials being used throughout, while also having a reassuringly sturdy feel like it was built to last, which – given the number of older Lexus models still on the roads – definitely seems to be the case. Though you do get a large touchscreen and part-digital dials as standard with this Lexus, it doesn’t offer the same modern feel as you get with rivals like the Audi Q7 and BMW X5. 

Behind the wheel, the RX very much prioritises comfort and refinement above anything else. In all but sharp acceleration, it’s impressively smooth, while a minimal amount of road noise makes it an ideal fit for longer trips. Its ability to run for short bursts on electricity is great around town, though if you want more zero-emissions driving capability, a plug-in hybrid is a better fit. Though the RX doesn’t handle well and isn’t as swift as others in this class, if that’s not ranked highly by you, it’s a very refined and easy car to live with.

Space and practicality

If you want seven seats you’ll need a Lexus RX L, which offers a longer wheelbase to squeeze two extra seats into the boot, though the standard RX is a strict five-seater. 

While not the roomiest car in this class, we reckon there will be few grumbles, unless compared back-to-back with more spacious models like the Audi Q7. A flat floor and acres of legroom and headroom offers loads of rear seat space for adults, while a 539-litre boot isn’t bad either. You do have quite a high boot lip, though, which is worth noting if you have a dog, for example, or are needing to lift heavier items into the car. 

 

Engines 

The latest Lexus RX has only been sold as a hybrid, and only in one particular guise – the RX 450h. It combines a large 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with twin electric motors. A CVT automatic gearbox is also used, while all-wheel-drive is included too. 

In total, the RX delivers 308bhp, which allows for a 0-60mph time of 7.5 seconds (though we’d argue it never feels this quick) and is capable of a top speed of 124mph.


Running costs

Though the Lexus RX will be more efficient than a standard petrol SUV, it’s likely not much better on fuel than a typical diesel SUV. 

Lexus claims 35.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 180g/km, which aren’t too bad for a car of this size, though if you want a more efficient hybrid SUV, you’ll want a plug-in model, rather than a ‘self-charging’ version like this RX.

Things to look out for

Lexus has a very impressive reliability reputation, just like sibling brand Toyota. The RX isn’t an exception to that rule, either, with owners generally very happy with their cars. As the RX is often used as an urban car, it’s worth looking out for any cosmetic damage and kerbing to the wheels, as this could be costly to fix. 

 

Rivals

The premium SUV market remains as competitive as ever, with key rivals including the Mercedes GLE, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport – all of which are available with a plug-in hybrid option. 

If you’re less fussed about the badge, the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe are both great choices, and are surprisingly upmarket inside too. 

 

Depreciation

Premium SUVs aren’t known for holding their value well, and the Lexus RX is no exception. Though you could expect to lose £10,000 off a new example in the first year – if you paid the ticket price – this Lexus is certainly no worse than its competitors. 

Which RX to pick

Cheapest to buy when new

450h 3.5 5dr CVT

Most MPG

450h 3.5 5dr CVT

Fastest model (0-60)

450h 3.5 5dr CVT

Trims explained

Three main trim levels are available on the Lexus RX, with equipment highlights and prices as follows.

RX

All RX models get a generous amount of standard equipment including 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry and man-made leather upholstery. You also get heated and electric front seats, an electric steering column, 12.3-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a 12-speaker sound system and wireless smartphone charger.

From £52,515

F-Sport

The F-Sport is aimed at being the sportier version of the range, and adds revised 20-inch alloy wheels, a sportier styling kit, aluminium interior inlays, as well as adaptive suspension with a ‘Sport’ driving mode and a sportier suspension setup. You also get heated and ventilated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a gesture-controlled electric boot.

From £56,815

Takumi

At the top of the range, the Takumi is entirely focussed on luxury, and leaves you wanting for very little. It boasts semi-aniline leather upholstery, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system and head-up display. You also get a 360-degree camera system, wooden interior inlays and a panoramic sunroof.

From £63,315

Summary

  1. Hybrid SUV
  2. Stunning reliability reputation
  3. Comfortable and refined…
  4. Very relaxing on longer trips
  5. you’ll need the RX L for seven seats
  6. RX is a strict five-seater
  7. Generous equipment levels
  8. Great build quality
  9. Not as efficient as you might expect
  10. Sharp styling

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