As Lexus’ long-time best seller, the RX invented the luxury crossover genre back in the Y2K era. Today’s Lexus RX continues that winning combination of a raised seating position, available all-wheel drive, and an upscale interior using a car-based platform (for better ride quality and fuel economy than truck-based SUVs). A V6 engine is standard while an available hybrid is ultra-efficient in urban driving. A recently added L body style wedges in a third-row seat but is just 4.4 inches longer overall, making for cramped third-row accommodations. F Sport variants amp up the visuals but less so the performance.
The RX 350 and 450h are bringing the swagger in 2022 with a new color palette available across the line up. With the addition of Cloudburst Gray and Iridium for all models and Grecian Water for F SPORT models, the RX can be styled to fit each guests’ personal taste. A unique addition to the options for 2022 is the standalone fog lamps to provide the option for added lighting on any grade or package without additional add-ons.
New last year, the RX added blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and power-folding side mirrors with auto-dimming as standard on all grades. Wireless smartphone charging was a new option as well. In 2021, Lexus introduced a new Black Line Special Edition package for the F Sport with black 20-inch wheels and exterior accents, blue stitching inside, bright blue or white paint, and a two-piece set of Zero Halliburton luggage. The former F Sport Performance package is also now dubbed the F Sport Handling package.
The Lexus RX continues with a V6 engine, bucking the turbocharged four-cylinder trend. The 3.5-liter’s 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque (290 hp and 263 lb-ft in the L) deliver adequate and unstrained acceleration in the RX, but don’t make it materially quicker than its rivals (note that the powertrains are unchanged for the F Sport models). Accelerator response can feel sleepy unless you switch to Sport or Sport+ mode, which you have to do again after each restart. The V6 and eight-speed automatic combo is smooth, however, and the engine is hushed. The hybrid version makes a bit more power (308 hp) but is nonetheless a little slower accelerating.
Our RX 350 F Sport did not have the optional Handling package with its adaptive dampers and retuned steering. The F Sport in standard form does get performance dampers, but they don’t give the RX nearly the same corner-carving acumen of a BMW X5 or an Audi SQ5. Still, they preserve the RX’s blissful ride quality and this Lexus is wholly unperturbed by bad pavement.
The Environmental Protection Agency rates the front-wheel-drive RX 350 at an estimated 20 mpg for city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive model rating dips slightly to 19 city/26 highway mpg. Those ratings are par for this class. The RX L version subtracts 1 mpg from those numbers. The RX 450h delivers a big improvement in city fuel economy: 31 mpg (29 mpg for the RX 450hL) but just a small one in highway driving at 28 mpg.
The interior of the RX provides class-leading levels of comfort and refinement. Large door openings and low doorsills make access super easy. Padded, soft-touch surfaces are everywhere and the synthetic leather is soft and supple (though real hide is also available). Our F Sport cabin’s lively color scheme featured black and white upholstery with blue contrast stitching. The seats are comfortable and the front chairs have deep side bolsters. The driver looks out over a long dashtop at a view that’s almost minivan-like. The rear seats are roomy for two, and a flat floor makes the middle position tenable. The L version’s tiny third-row seat might be serviceable for grandkids who visit once a year, but anyone who would use it regularly should look instead at an Acura MDX or a Lincoln Aviator.
Hauling bulky cargo is not the RX’s forte, with just 16 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and 32.6 with the rear seats folded. Both measures are less than a Volvo XC60 or Cadillac XT5. The L is somewhat better, with 23 cubic feet behind its second row and 58.5 cubic feet with all seats folded.
The standard infotainment display in the Lexus RX is 8 inches, but a 12.3-inch unit is available and includes navigation. It also has split-screen capability to show two functions at once. Both support Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. However, Waze can’t be used with Android Auto (only CarPlay).
Overall, the RX is comfortable, luxurious, and refined, however, those seeking on-road thrills or off-road adventures are better served elsewhere.