Lexus RX Review
The Lexus RX is a well-built, luxurious SUV that’s only available as a hybrid. It’s very comfortable for four people, but let down by a relatively small boot and the lack of a diesel engine
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Very comfortable
- Brilliant build quality
- Surprisingly frugal
What's not so good
- No diesel
- Small boot for a big SUV
- Roly poly in bends
Lexus RX: what would you like to read next?
The Lexus RX is a well-built SUV that swaps sporty styling and driving aspirations in favour of being well built and extremely comfortable.
From the outside, the Lexus’ lustrous paint and bold chrome grille make it look posh, but not as showy as an Audi Q7 or BMW X5.
It’s more tasteful from the inside, too, with wood trim pieces favoured over the brushed aluminium panels you might find in a BMW or Audi.
The dashboard has an asymmetric design that’s quite appealing, but it’s the standard of fit and finish that really shines through. Gaps between trim pieces are so consistent they look like they’ve been measured using lasers, and the curved slab of wood in Premier models is hand picked by the same craftsmen who build Yamaha pianos.
Perhaps these piano builders also designed the infotainment, because it clearly wasn’t put together by anyone who knows a great deal about electronics, because the Lexus’s joystick control system is fiddly to use and the screen’s graphics are too low resolution for an expensive car like this.
On a more positive note, the front seats are brilliant. They’re electrically adjustable, heated and cooled on all but entry-level models. The back seats have room for six-footers, and they slide back and recline to give your passengers more knee room and comfort on long journeys.
Sadly, although the boot space is a reasonable size, it’s significantly down on capacity compared to the BMW and the Audi, which might call for some strategic packing if you’re planning a fortnight away with the family.
The Lexus RX gives you more pampering than a weekend away at a five-star hotel
Faced with a long drive though, you’ll be extremely happy to climb aboard the RX. Its cabin is quiet, the suspension absorbs bumps well at higher speeds and it’s also very safe.
The Lexus hybrid motor can carry you through town in silent electric mode, before switching to a smooth 3.5-litre six-cylinder petrol that can waft you along effortlessly at higher speeds – the only downside is it can’t match a diesel’s fuel economy on long-distance drives.
That said, it is quick, but the Lexus isn’t a car you’ll want to drive fast. It leans in bends and has light controls that focus on comfort rather than feedback.
But that’s fine in a car that’s going to spend most of its time transporting the family – who’ll definitely appreciate the RX’s excellent comfort. Factor in the Lexus’ brilliant build quality, hybrid engine and the level of equipment you get as standard in top-of-the-range models, and it’s hard to understand why more people don’t have an RX parked on their drive.
The Lexus RX’s interior looks absolutely lovely and feels like it’ll last for decades, the only problem is the clunky infotainment system that’ll make you want to pull your hair out
The Lexus RX has plenty of space for four people and a boot that’s big enough – but not the largest in class. Sadly, a fifth passenger will feel crushed and you can’t have seven seats
The Lexus RX’s seats are so comfortable they make a La-Z-Boy chair feel like some sort of medieval torture device
The Lexus RX pampers your passengers with thick padded seats that offer a decent range of adjustment for all four people
Even if you’re not the tallest of people, the RX’s driver’s seat can give you a towering view out of the car, and a steering wheel that moves electrically for reach and height means you don’t have to peer over it to see out. You’ll also be pleased to hear that electric lumbar adjustment comes as standard, so you can add a little extra support if you suffer from backache on long journeys.
Luxury and SE model are more comfortable than entry-level models thanks to heated and cooled front seats, but Premier cars go one step further – they have 10-way (rather than eight-way) electrically adjustable front seats.
Jump into the back seat of the RX and you’ll find it’s nearly as comfortable as the front. There’s space for two six footers and the thickly-padded centre armrest (not fitted in entry-level S models) means you don’t miss out on the luxurious feel you get when you’re sat up front.
The back seat can slide back an inch or two if you need more kneeroom, and the backrest also reclines to let you lounge out on a long journey. All of that means the Lexus’ back seat will be more comfortable for your passengers than in alternatives such as the Mercedes GLE or BMW X5.
That changes if you stick three people in the back, because even an average-sized middle-seat passenger will scuff their head on the roof. Its wide rear doors give you plenty of access for a fitting a child seat though, and the clearly marked Isofix point make it easy to get the base of the seat locked into place.
Sadly the RX doesn’t come with a seven-seat option – meaning that you’re better off with a BMW X5 or Volvo XC90 if you need a third row.
Interior storage in the RX is pretty good, helped by some of the largest door pockets you’ll see in any car. They’re big enough to swallow several large bottles of water.
On top of that, the cupholders up front are large enough to swallow two more big bottles of water, you get a couple of cupholders in the rear-centre armrest and there’s a variety of other smaller cubbies scattered about the place. In fact, only the Mercedes GLE has more cubby storage.
At 453 litres, the RX’s boot is smaller than a BMW X5’s (650 litres) and a Mercedes GLE’s (690 litres). It’s also low on features with only a couple of tie-down hooks and a 12v power socket – that’s handy for charging a handheld vacuum – being worthy of mention.
Although the RX’s boot doesn’t compare well to other SUVs of the same price, it’s still big enough to swallow a pair of large suitcases and you’ll get a couple of smaller ones in on top if you remove the parcel shelf. Loading them is easy because there’s no boot lip to lift items over.
If you need more room, the Lexus rear seats split 60:40 so you can carry longer luggage and still have space for two rear passengers, plus you can poke your skis through a hatch behind the rear centre armrest.
With all the back seats folded flat into the floor, the RX has a total load capacity of 924 litres. That might not sound like much for a car of this size, but in practice it will easily carry an adult’s bike without you having to remove the wheels.
The Lexus RX is a comfortable car that’ll leave you feeling relaxed after long journeys. It’s not remotely sporty though, and the lack of a diesel engine is annoying
Asking a Lexus RX to drive quickly down a country road is like asking a P&O ferry to compete the America’s Cup
The Lexus RX is only available with petrol-electric hybrid engine. The lack of a diesel option means no model will provide brilliant fuel economy on a long motorway run.
Surprisingly for a car of its generous proportions, it’s in town where the RX really feels at home. Its silent electric motor can power the car for a few miles on battery power alone, making it very relaxing to drive.
Get up to higher speeds and the electric motor makes way for a 3.5-litre petrol V6 that you’ll only ever hear as a constant hum when overtaking. On top of that, the hybrid can return decent fuel economy of 44mpg in the real world – not far off the 51.4mpg the company claims.
The other engine you can pick – the 238hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the 200T – is less convincing. It doesn’t move the RX along with the same effortlessness as the hybrid model and it’ll also cost more to run – Lexus reckons it’ll get fuel economy of 36.2mpg but you can wipe 10mpg off that in real-world driving.
If you’re looking for a Sports Utility Vehicle that’s genuinely sporty, then the Lexus RX isn’t for you – you’ll be much happier with the BMW X5 or Porsche Macan.
But if you have no interest in emulating Lewis Hamilton on the school run, the Lexus RX will be right up your street.
In town, its high body gives you a decent view out the front of the car, the controls are light and easy to handle at low speeds and the silent electric motor makes the RX the perfect place to unwind after a hard day at the office.
Granted, the RX’s small rear windscreen and large pillars on either side of it do block your view slightly when pulling out of junctions or overtaking on the motorway, but the standard reversing camera means parking is easy. The only other complaint is suspension that can occasionally jolt over sharp bumps.
As the speeds rise however, the suspension smooths out bumpy country roads and motorways very well. Factor in the RX’s quiet interior, and how comfortable the padded seats are, and the Lexus is the kind of car you could drive hundreds of miles without feeling the least bit stressed.
For ultimate peace of mind it’s also good to know it has a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. Standard safety features include active cruise control – that can slow the car when it detects traffic braking in front – lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking that can detect cars as well as people.
It’s only when you’re looking for excitement of a less extreme level that the RX comes up short because it suffers from plenty of body lean in bends and the slow steering means it doesn’t feel particularly enthusiastic on country roads.
Less of an issue is the fact that the RX isn’t a proper off-roader like a Land Rover Discovery. Sure, it comes with four-wheel drive that’ll be handy on slippery winter roads, but the Lexus won’t tackle the extreme conditions a Land Rover can and it can only tow a 2,000kg trailer to the 3,500kgs the Discovery can haul.