Review of the new 2022 Lexus RX 450h+ | Auto-Express

Verdict

The new Lexus RX takes technology known from the smaller NX and extrapolates it into a larger package. There’s a lot to love here. The new infotainment and efficiency potential of the 450h+ powertrain are huge advancements, while the Lexus drives and handles quite well. However, he does not fulfill his mandate as well as his little brother. In this big class of premium SUV, the Lexus faces some very luxurious competition, like the BMW X5 xDrive45e, and we’d like a bit more refinement as a result. The price will also be key to the success of the package.

For years Lexus has tried and hasn’t necessarily always succeeded in taking on established high-end players – mostly from Germany – but more recently it’s hit a rich vein of form.

Thanks to an all-new platform and, in a Lexus first, a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the brand’s latest NX premium midsize SUV offers a brilliant mix of qualities in this most competitive class. And now Lexus is aiming to extend that formula for its all-new RX.

While the NX competes with cars such as the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, the RX is a competitor to the BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE. But like its smaller sibling, this fifth-generation RX is also based on the all-new GA-K platform and incorporates Lexus’ 450h+ powertrain, making it the first-ever plug-in hybrid RX. In fact, Lexus claims “it’s a complete reimagining of the large luxury SUV.”

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It’s quite a statement – as is the styling of the new car, which is the first thing you might notice. Along with the NX and the upcoming all-electric SUV RZ, this RX will define the next chapter for the Japanese brand in terms of design.

We’ve seen the front of the company’s ‘spindle grille’ before, but the RX evolves that into what Lexus calls the ‘spindle body’. The grille is larger with the overall shape now integrated throughout the front of the car’s body.

There are slim headlights, sharp creases to the sides and a racy “floating” roof courtesy of blacked-out C-pillars, along with a full-width light bar on the sloping tailgate. It’s clearly an evolution in terms of design, but still recognizable as a Lexus.

It is the same inside. The brand is doing a lot more of its Japanese heritage these days, and we’re all for it. The cabin takes a ‘less is more’ approach, with the central 14-inch touchscreen dominating the layout.

Lexus’ latest infotainment system is also a massive improvement over the old touchpad-based setup of the previous RX. It works fast, offers plenty of features and now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both wireless.

Our top-of-the-line Takumi model also featured adaptive suspension, heated and ventilated leather seats, tri-zone climate control, panoramic roof, 21-inch alloy wheels, head-up display, LED headlights and charging series cordless phone.

In typical Lexus fashion, the cabin is beautifully built and the quality of materials is good, but there’s not a lot of flair to the design, which could be a problem at this level of the market. On that note, prices will be announced later this year, but expect the base RX 350h self-charging hybrid to start from around £60,000 when it goes on sale later in 2023 .

It’s the new 450h+ plug-in hybrid we’re focusing on here, though. It uses a 2.5 liter four-cylinder petrol engine working in conjunction with an 18.1 kWh battery which powers an electric motor driving the front wheels and another unit located on the rear axle of the car to provide electric all-wheel drive. Total power comes in at 304bhp with the 0-62mph sprint dispatched in 6.5 seconds.

Performance is quite decent. It never feels fast, but in electric mode there’s enough grunt. Lexus claims a zero-emissions range of over 40 miles, which we thought was accurate and achievable at launch.

When the 18.1kWh battery runs out (the 6.6kW on-board charger means a full charge takes about two hours and 45 minutes), the RX uses its second battery and becomes a self-charging hybrid, like the 350h powertrain; it’s a technology first as far as we know and means that even when you’ve used the energy from the larger battery, there’s still great potential for efficiency. Official economic claims come to 256.8mpg with CO2 emissions and benefits-in-kind taxation of up to 24g/km and 8% respectively.

Once the power runs out or the gasoline engine fires up, refinement takes a hit because even with Lexus’ improvements to how its e-CVT automatic transmission works, the gasoline engine keeps buzzing – especially if you ask for hard acceleration.

The trick is to take advantage of the strengths of the powertrain and rely on electricity. Then the engine isn’t as noticeable and the RX offers a relaxed ride.

As with the NX, there’s more linearity in how the powertrain responds and the gas engine accelerates. It gives a better connection between car and driver, and while it’s still not perfect, in a big SUV like this it prioritizes comfort and laid-back dynamics over sportiness.

The new platform means the RX still acquits relatively well, however. Our test run in the US didn’t provide many corners or rough surfaces, but the RX rides reasonably well, with damping control and comfort only breaking down over the worst bumps and transverse ridges in the road, where the extra battery mass becomes apparent. Otherwise, the suspension works smoothly to filter out imperfections and control the body.

The steering is light, but that helps with handling, as does the rear-axle steering, which provides up to four degrees of lock on the rear wheels. However, the RX doesn’t look like a big car. It doesn’t feel particularly dynamic either, but there’s enough agility here by the same token.

In short, it strikes a good balance between comfort and engagement, with the focus on the former, meaning the RX is a solid SUV from a driving perspective, given how it will be used in the future. most of the time.

However, the 461-litre boot is a far cry from the biggest cars in this class, and that’s despite the lithium-ion battery being mounted under the car’s floor for easier packing. While there’s plenty of space for most tasks, a family vacation could test the RX’s load capacity more than a BMW X5 xDrive45e, for example.

However, rear-seat space is better with plenty of head and leg room (although rivals still feel roomier), while heated power-adjustable rear seats are standard on high-end Takumi models, which is a good idea.

Model: Lexus RX 450h+ Tekna
Price: £75,000 (estimate)
Powertrain : 2.5 liter 4cyl petrol + 2x electric motors
Power/torque: 304bhp/N/A
Transmission: e-CVT automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Economy/CO2: 256.8mpg/24g/km
On sale: Now

Review of the new 2022 Lexus RX 450h+ | Auto-Express

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