Thursday, March 7, 2024

2024 Lexus RX 450h AWD: The Brand’s All-New Midsize Plug-In Crossover


Highlight: When parking on the street, the RX can detect if a vehicle or bicycle is approaching from the rear, preventing the occupants from operating the door.

Test Vehicle's MSRP: $76,765 

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; back up camera; a stability control system; pre-collision system with pedestrian detection system; a radar activated cruise control system; lane tracing assist system; lane departure with steering assist; intelligent high beam headlamps; a front collision warning system; a road sign assist; an automatic braking system; blind spot electronic monitor with a rear traffic alert system; a daytime cyclist detection system;  rain-sensing windshield wipers; side mirrors with integrated turn lamps; and a first aid kit



Standard Equipment (450h): 21-inch wheels; Level 1 charging cable standard; all-wheel drive; Ash Bamboo interior trim; 14-inch infotainment screen; power folding heated outside mirrors; panoramic moonroof; roof rails; semi-aniline leather seats; heated and ventilated front and rear seats; a three position driver’s memory seat; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; power partial reclining rear seats; wood and leather trimmed steering wheel; race inspired paddle shifters; a heated steering wheel; a wireless phone charger; a heads up display system; a subscription based navigation system; and a multizone climate control system

Options: advanced park with remote park; cold area package; panoramic view; monitor traffic jam assist; premium triple beam; power rear door with kick sensor; digital key technology package; a digital rearview mirror; Mark Levison premium audio system; carpet cargo mat; illuminated package; illuminated cargo sills; illuminated door sills; mudguards; side puddle lamp; and wheel locks

 

Other Non Electrified Trim Levels:

RX

RX 350h

RX 500h F Sport

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 12-speaker audio system with AM/FM/HD/CD with SiriusXM

Bluetooth Connectivity: Standard

USB Connectivity: Standard

Apple/Android Connectivity: Standard

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 70,000 miles

Hybrid Warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles

Standard RX 450h Engine/Horsepower: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine/304-hp

Electric Vehicle Hybrid Battery Warranty: 10 years or 150,000 miles

Recommended Fuel: Premium


According to the gauge, it takes over 3 hours to recharge to 37 miles once the driving range is near depletion.

Electric Vehicle Driving Range: 37 (could take over 3 hours to charge using a Level 2 outlet)

Standard Mileage: 88 MPGe combined (according to Lexus) We are still waiting for fueleconomy.gov, which is operated by the federal government to evaluate its MPGe.

Maximum Towing Capacity: 999 lbs

What’s New: The brand’s fifth-generation RX adds a plug-in model for the 2024 model year, making it the first time the popular model has transitioned to electrification.



Why: 

A sporty exterior design

A plug-in model with 37 miles of electric driving range

A longer driving range with both fuel and gasoline

Great power and acceleration

Roomy interior

A 14-inch infotainment touchscreen is available

Panorama roof available with a power sunshade

A high end Mark Levinson Audio System

Heated and ventilated front and rear seats

A radar active cruise control system with co-pilot assist

A low speed hands free traffic assist driving system

Heads Up Display (HUD)

Wireless Apple Carplay

An optional digital latch with safe exit is designed to prevent the door from opening and warn of motorists and cyclists approaching

The optional digital rearview mirror increases one field of vision

Wireless phone charging

A high level of safety driving aids

An advanced optional automatic parking system

A variety of driving modes

 


But: 

The RX plug-in model costs more than the brand’s slightly smaller RZ 450e all-electrified vehicle. Go figure? (In fact, because of price adjustments with most EVs these days, discounts on the RZ range upwards of $12,500 from the automaker.)

The front fascia is still somewhat polarizing

A complicated infotainment system requires voice activation to control many of the functions.

Front driver’s seat needs more back support

The layout and design of the digital instrument cluster and infotainment system needs to be thoughtfully integrated into the vehicle like in the Genesis and Audi brands.

No front wheel drive model on the 450h

The vehicle rides firmer than one would expect in a Lexus

Towing capacity is significantly lower than other RX pure gasoline models

 


This is how Lexus' hands--free parallel parking system looks when activated.

Verdict: Unlike Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, Lexus has taken a cautious approach in terms of electrifying its brand. In 2023, the RZ, which shares a platform with Toyota and Subaru, became the first vehicle in the Japanese luxury brand line up to go all-electric. And now, the RX is making its push toward electrification.

Unlike the smaller RZ, which is all-electric, the RX is a plug-in, offering the best of both worlds for some, electrification plus gasoline. On a full charge, the peppy 304-horsepower RX can achieve upwards of 37 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in. When the gasoline engine kicks in, the RX plug-in is capable of achieving over 500 miles of non-stop driving, before needing to refuel and/or recharge.

We didn’t measure the actual mileage or fuel range during the week of our review. While the five-passenger crossover was in our possession, we didn’t have a need to refuel or recharge the vehicle because of the MPG. Moreover, we’re still waiting for the official EPA’s evaluation on fueleconomy.gov. As of now, the RX 450h has not been released.

Yet, at a starting price over $70,000, the RX 450h, the brand’s first plug-in, becomes the most expensive trim for the brand’s best-selling model. Its direct competitors are the Volvo XC60 Recharge and BMW X5 sdrive50e, which offers a 36 and 39-mile driving range, according to their official websites. Unlike the Lexus, the Volvo XC60 has a starting price under $60,000.

The price point of the RX 450h is more aligned with the BMW X5 xdrive50e, which seems is in the $70k range.  We can only imagine the price point of the RX once the model becomes all-electric.

Outside of the electrification, the fifth-generation RX, which debuted during the 2023 model year, mirrors that of the plug-in model. The plug-in model, with its firm ride, was outfitted with the RX’s luxury package, 21-inch wheels, parking assist features and a long list of safety driving aids.

Like with the 2023 RX, the plug-in requires a subscription to access the navigation. Furthermore, the fussy infotainment system in the Lexus requires one to use the inconsistent and sometimes frustrating voice activated assistant to access programs and alter the temperature.

Will consumers be willing to make the price climb to get their hands on a RX plug-in or will they steer toward some of the electrified or hybrid competitors in and outside of the brand?

Plug-In Competition: BMW X5 xDrive50e and Volvo XC60 Recharge

Fully Electrified Models: Genesis Electrified GV70 and Mercedes-Benz EQE

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