2017 Lexus RX 450h

2017 Lexus RX 450h Review

Comfort and quality remain its strengths, but a more carlike driving experience broadens its appeal.
4.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by James Riswick
Edmunds Editor

Looking for a luxury crossover SUV but want high fuel economy, too? The 2017 Lexus RX 450h could hit the spot. It has the same meticulous quality, comfortable ride and generous passenger space we like in the regular RX, but with a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain.

The Lexus RX 450h was once the epitome of sensible luxury transportation. It was a reasonably sized SUV with good reliability, superior fuel economy, a comfy ride and styling inoffensive to the point of anonymity. The 2017 RX 450h, representing the second year after last year's complete redesign, isn't quite so sensible. But it may ultimately be more desirable thanks to improved driving manners, a more luxurious and carlike cabin, and radical styling that no one would ever deem anonymous.



what's new

For 2017, every RX 450h comes standard with forward collision warning and mitigation, lane keeping assistance, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. You can also now get a front-wheel-drive F Sport model.

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A sport-tuned hybrid SUV may seem like a bit of a contradiction, but the RX 450h F Sport is, in fact, the model to get — just not for the reason you might suspect. Sure, it comes with sportier styling and sharper handling, but its adaptive suspension actually produces a better ride quality than the standard RX suspension. It's smoother and less busy over bumps. For that, we say it's the one to get.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Lexus RX 450h is a five-passenger midsize SUV available in front- and all-wheel-drive versions. Although there is officially only one base trim level, the RX 450h F Sport package can be thought of as a second one. It features different styling, an upgraded suspension, a lower ride height and special interior trim. Otherwise, both the regular and F Sport versions of the RX 450h come well equipped and are available with the same option packages. Just keep in mind that the availability of those options can vary based on the region of the country you live in.

Every RX 450h comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a pair of front-mounted electric motor/generators. Optional all-wheel drive is made possible by adding a third motor for the rear wheels. Total system output is 308 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque.

Standard equipment highlights for the base RX 450h includes 18-inch wheels, LED exterior lighting (headlights, foglights, taillights and running lights), automatic high beams, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane departure warning and intervention, a sunroof, and keyless ignition and entry. Inside, the RX includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats, driver-seat memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a 40/20/40-split rear seat (reclines, slides and folds).

Standard tech features include the Remote Touch interface, an 8-inch color display, Safety Connect emergency communications, voice controls, Bluetooth connectivity and a 12-speaker sound system.

The F Sport, now available with front- or all-wheel drive, adds sportier exterior styling, 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, a lower ride height, an engine noise enhancer, special gauges, heated and ventilated sport seats, and special interior trim.

The optional Luxury package adds different 20-inch wheels, rear side sunshades, a heated steering wheel, upgraded interior trim and upgraded front-seat power lumbar adjustments. Power-folding rear seats can be added to the Luxury package. Stand-alone options include a color head-up display, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate, upgraded LED headlights, a 12.3-inch Remote Touch display and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

trim tested

The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Lexus RX 450h AWD F Sport. NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current RX 450h hasn't been significantly changed. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's RX 450h.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.5 / 5.0

Driving

4.5 / 5.0

Acceleration5.0 / 5.0
Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort5.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.5 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.5 / 5.0
Driving position4.0 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility4.5 / 5.0
Quality5.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

Technology

3.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation2.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration3.0 / 5.0
Driver aids4.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
Considering what you get in fuel economy — the presumptive reason why you buy the RX 450h instead of an RX 350 — performance is admirable. It moves out with seamless authority; the steering, handling and braking are much the same as in the regular RX except for a little extra weight.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The hybrid powertrain includes a stout 3.5-liter V6 engine, and the system delivers seamless acceleration in all conditions. Its 0-60 mph acceleration time of 7.2 seconds is a bit slow for the segment but actually a couple tenths quicker than the RX 350.

braking

edmunds rating
The brakes feel consistent and reassuring in routine use, but they can feel grabby if you have to dab them quickly (say, when you're cut off). In our 60-to-0 mph panic-stop tests, the RX 450h posted distances ranging from 121 to 130 feet. Those are merely acceptable distances.

steering

edmunds rating
Response is smooth, and steering effort is just about right (it can also be altered by switching between driving modes in the F Sport). Isolation from road vibrations is excellent, but it almost feels as if it's too good at this because it's sometimes hard to judge just how much to turn the wheel.

handling

edmunds rating
It feels coordinated and secure in most situations at civilian speeds, with moderate body roll. The extra hybrid system weight is apparent if you hustle it on winding roads, though. The F Sport suspension has a selectable Sport mode.

drivability

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The strong V6 engine rarely has to rev high enough to make the electronically controlled continuously variable transmission obvious — annoying droning is rare. The brakes avoid the typical hybrid weirdness, as does the rest of the RX 450h in general.

comfort

edmunds rating
Like the RX 350, the 2017 RX 450h is a comfortable place to spend time — even more so with F Sport. The seats are handsome and comfortable, and the ride is smooth and composed without being overly buoyant. The hybrid drivetrain makes a few extra noises, but they're sufficiently muted.

seat comfort

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We like the thoroughly comfortable front seats, and the F Sport's more supportive seats are still sufficiently wide set that they do their job without being confining. The heating and cooling feature for the front seats works great, too.

ride comfort

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Contrary to expectations, the F Sport suspension feels less busy and soaks up bumps better than the regular RX suspension. It's neither too stiff nor too soft, which is to say the 450h is smooth-riding but with enough control to prevent it from being floaty.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
There is very little wind or road noise, and the hybrid powertrain is oftentimes quite silent. Other times the hybrid CVT holds engine revs higher, but the sound is muted. The regenerative braking system tends to emit muted whining noise.

interior

edmunds rating
The 2017 Lexus RX 450h's cabin is great to look at and beautifully made. It's a real standout in the segment. However, some controls are difficult to use and the backseat isn't as generous as those of some rivals.

ease of use

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The cabin controls are logically laid out, and there's a good mix of knobs and buttons. But we're unconvinced by the joystick-like Remote Touch system needed to control many vehicle functions. It can be distracting to use.

getting in/getting out

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The RX 450h is easy to get into because the doorsills are narrow and the seat height is about perfect. Doors open wide, too, with nicely squared-off upper openings, even in back.

driving position

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The current RX features a lower, more carlike driving position than some SUV rivals. We like this because it makes you feel more in control, yet it still provides a sufficiently commanding view out.

roominess

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There's more than enough head- and legroom up front, and there's a good amount of elbow room. Lots of rear headroom and elbow room, too, but knee clearance and toe space can be tight if the backseat passenger and the driver are both taller than 6 feet. Some rivals also offer three rows.

visibility

edmunds rating
Sweeping view to the front and sides, with slender pillars and peek-a-boo windows ahead of the nice-sized mirrors. The rear three-quarter blind spot is not terribly large. The decent direct rearward view is enhanced by the standard backup camera.

quality

edmunds rating
The RX 450h boasts tremendous build quality. The materials look and feel rich, and they've been put together meticulously. Lexus really knows what it's doing. One of the key reasons to consider the RX.

utility

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The 2017 Lexus RX 450h is far from what we'd consider utilitarian. Its cargo area's versatility is limited by its slanted roofline, and the center console lacks storage.

small-item storage

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The center console is really big, but most of it is taken up with the shifter, Remote Touch and drive settings controllers, and admittedly pretty wood trim. Cupholders are of an OK size, but there aren't many places to store odds and ends.

cargo space

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The slanted roofline reduces cargo space for bulky items. It's really just a big trunk with an easy access height. Most similarly priced rivals are better. The 40/20/40-split backrest can be folded for long items while keeping two seats in place.

technology

edmunds rating
The RX 450h comes standard with driving aids that are optional on its rivals and that can give you added peace of mind. We also like its enormous optional display screen. But the Remote Touch interface that controls it is a constant distraction and potential deal-breaker.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The Remote Touch interface (a joystick used to highlight icons on the 8- or 12.3-inch dashtop display) requires too much dexterity and concentration while driving. It's a distraction. We'd prefer almost any other tech interface.

smartphone integration

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Bluetooth and two USB ports are standard, as are the Lexus Enform and Enform Destinations trip planning and live assistance apps. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available.

driver aids

edmunds rating
The RX 450h comes standard with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic braking (it can detect other cars and pedestrians), and lane keeping assist. These are optional on all rivals. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.