Review: 2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport is frugal but disappoints
What's this Lexus crossover all about?
The Road Beat tests and reviews the 2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport.
What is it?
The Lexus RX 450h F Sport, a crossover that, unlike other Lexus models, doesn't seem like particularly good value. And at $61,650, it's far from what many would consider affordable. This model does feature an all-wheel drive hybrid powertrain, though, for ambitious fuel economy claims, which can be quite appealing in times where gasoline is nearing $5.00/gallon.
As is typical with all Lexus models, build quality is quite high, with luxuriously soft materials and excellent fit and finish throughout the interior. You do get the sense of complete solidity when driving the RX around, with no rattles to be heard and confidence that it will last a lifetime; That's why many people choose Lexus over other brands, particularly those from Europe.
The cabin features comfortable leather seats, again wrapped in a quality hide that you come to expect from Lexus. The steering wheel feels nice in the hands, too. The ride quality is comfortable for passengers and it's quiet enough, though I did hope for a teensy bit less wind noise from a luxury product.
Fuel economy does live up to the hype, where I found myself averaging 28 MPG during my week with the Lexus and achieved 32 MPG on my highway test; Definitely a higher average than pure gas-only competitors. So, if you're for a luxury crossover that still delivers great economy, this unique powertrain represents a compelling choice for it alone.
On the road, the RX 450h is adequately competent, but completely boring. Steering is lifeless and dead and with precarious accuracy at times which is unlike the smaller NX crossover I tested last year, because that had great steering. Push through this lack of encouragement and the RX is capable of being commanded to speeds that will make unsuspecting passengers want to hurl still, but there is little joy in hustling and exploring the handling of the RX. The actual balance is respectable, but again, don't buy this for driving thrills, because thrill it doesn't.
Well, I don't find it exactly attractive in any sense of the word. I like the way other Lexus models look now as they've tamed the divisive Predator-grille, but the RX is too ungainly and odd. The color, Grecian Water, is cool, but it doesn't work on the RX.
This isn't a full-size SUV (even if its priced as one), but the RX is too shy on interior space unfortunately. The second-row has legroom that's just okay, but it's less roomy that others I've tried recently. The rear cargo space especially doesn't inspire much optimism if you're carrying multiple carts to the IKEA checkout. For those in the need of room, there is a larger 'L' model with a cramped third-row available, but it looks even weirder. It's hard not to feel too compromised on space with the RX 450 because of the price, too. You could have a loaded MDX for the same price, and it's better in every respect save for gas mileage. Ditto for Genesis' superb GV80.
Performance isn't a strong suit either, with the 308 horsepower hybrid unit propelling you to 60 MPH from naught in 7 seconds. It's also powertrain that hasn't been updated since at least 2016. Again, probably doesn't matter too much if you're buying this for the economy instead.
While the interior is well-appointed with solid leather here and there, some of the switches feel cheap and the center display screen, used for music and navigation, remains a nightmare to operate in typical Lexus fashion. You can eventually tolerate it, but this is nearly 2022 now, you shouldn't have to tolerate what should be an easy and intuitive interface. It's been this way forever basically in Lexus cars, just start over and make it easier. It can't be that hard, Lexus.
Why consider the RX 450h? Buy it if you like the looks and the economy figures. Why would you not buy it, though? Because of the looks, high price, bad screen, and other compelling rivals that drive better and offer more space. Really, this is a niche of a vehicle, but it's a niche that doesn't make a whole lot of sense when comparing competitors. Yes there are other crossovers that offer similar space, but they make up for it by looking much better and offering far better performance for that type of crowd wanting a compromised crossover SUV. I'd even go as far as to say that Lexus parent company Toyota's own Highlander Hybrid Platinum is a better buy for ten grand less, gets better mileage, has way more space, and is actually quite similar in luxury.