2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport AWD - Review by David Colman
High value, competitively priced
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Since the introduction of this version of the RX in 2016 the Lexus RX has matured into a top echelon SUV that scores an impressive 83/100 on Consumer Reports rating scale for luxury midsize SUVs. Only the 389hp BMW X5, at 90/100, outpoints the 308hp Lexus RX. However, the hybrid BMW xDrive45e carries a base price of $63,700 compared to the starting Lexus MSRP of $53,820. If you decide to buy the Lexus, you can put that price difference to work selecting lots of optional equipment. For example, our test vehicle included a $3,365 navigation option which also adds a 15 speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system and a 12.3 inch touchscreen to control everything. An additional $1,365 provided a panoramic view monitor with intuitive parking assist and rear cross traffic braking. A further investment of $1,675 upgraded night driving with triple beam LED headlights fitted with washers and dynamic auto-leveling. All told, our fully optioned RX 450h F SPORT carried a bottom line of $61,650, which still undercut the base price of the X5 by $2,050.
There are more than 650 reasons to select the F SPORT handling version of the RX 450h. This model's Adaptive Variable Suspension leads the way with 650 levels of damping on offer from exceptionally well calibrated shock absorber valving that reacts instantly to terrain variances. The driver modulates this sophisticated system by turning a large knob located atop the central transmission tunnel. Available settings range from Eco to Sport+, and with each new choice, specific differences in steering and throttle feedback become apparent, as well response levels of the shock absorbers. A further F SPORT handling refinement called Active Cornering Assist applies braking to the inside wheel during a turn in order to eliminate oversteer. Finally, the F SPORT group adds 20 x 8" alloy rims fitted with 235/55R20 Michelin Premier LTX radials that provide the needed firm footprint for this 4,740lb. SUV. The refined handling behavior of the RX comes as a pleasant surprise considering that the blocky RX 450h measures 194 inches in length, 79 inches in width, and stands 69 inches high.
While all these handling improvements help convert the road manners of the RX from clumsy to crisp, the one F SPORT amenity we most enjoyed was the design of the front sport seats. When you drop your butt into the deep pocket of this catcher's mitt, your first word will be "Wow!." Lately, we've been driving a succession of sports sedans and race styled performance cars with seats that haven't come close to matching the high water mark of those in the RX. Lexus has been craftily reconfiguring the dashboard layout as well. Gone is the fussy touchpad which jumped from one highlighted field to another with the unpredictability of a firefly. Now, in addition to a much smaller, more controllable keypad between the seats, Lexus has added a touchpad function to the 12.3 inch infotainment screen that comes standard on the F SPORT. The system is also now Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.
The RX 450h is surprisingly fuel efficient, posting a 30MPG figure in combined city and highway driving. With a 17 gallon tank, this Lexus commands a full tank range of 510 miles, quite a remarkable achievement for such a hefty hauler. Tow rating is limited to 3,500lbs. The RX 450h is available in two sizes. We drove the 5 passenger model, but a 7 passenger version is also available and designated as the RX 450hL. We were quite taken with the lively metallic medium blue finish of our test RX called "Grecian Water." If you prefer a more sedate look, you should investigate a special offering for 2022 called the RX 450h Black Line Special Edition. Only 400 of these will be built, finished in either "Caviar" black or "White Pearl." Added incentives for purchase include 20" black wheels fastened with black lug nuts, black exterior mirrors, splitters, front grill and rear nameplate.
While you won't be setting any drag strip records with this Lexus, it's plenty capable of keeping up with the flow of freeway traffic. The 0-60mph run clocks in at 8.3 seconds, and you can feel the electric motor boost kick in with satisfying thrust thanks to the immediate response from the Continuously Variable Transmission. Lexus equips the F SPORT with a set of paddles to give you the illusion of performing your own shifts, but in this case the paddles are an unnecessary addendum. If you are willing to pay more for fuel use, the RX 350 is available with a 295hp version of the V6 that produces more horsepower and torque than the hybrid at the expense of worse range. But the hybrid version is your best bet as long as you opt for the F SPORT package to keep things really interesting.
2022 LEXUS RX 450h F SPORT AWD
ENGINE: 3.5 liter V6 direct port injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 31MPG City/28MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $61,650
HYPES: Surprising F SPORT Agility and Seats
GRIPES: Front Corner Sightlines Poor
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10