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2022 Lexus RX450h Review: When More of the Same is a Good Thing

This luxury cruiser knows its place, and does what it’s designed to do very, very well Automotive columnist: , Updated:

2022 Lexus RX 450h, front
2022 Lexus RX 450h, front
Photo: D.Heyman

Auto123 reviews the 2022 Lexus RX450h.

While vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V rightfully get much of the credit for ushering in the crossover era, the Lexus RX Series deserves acknowledgement for ushering in the luxury CUV era, along with the likes of the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class.

For 2022 there are some slight changes, namely a couple of new colours (the Nori Green seen here is not one of them), as well slightly different chassis tuning – different bushings, hollowed-out stabilizer bars and re-tuned shock. Is that enough to keep the RX, always a popular model in the segment, really competitive?

In terms of styling, the RX is still a pretty angular-looking thing punctuated by a grille design that, even when you take into account the madness that is the Genesis GV80’s front-end, remains incredibly unique and is properly eye-catching. Because my tester doesn’t have the F Sport treatment, the grille isn’t completely blacked-out, which is actually a more aggressive look than the silver/black grille I have, thought the 3D effect it offers is cool.

Do I prefer it? Not so sure as part of me thinks if you’re going to go this crazy, go all the way, but this is a classier look overall. The head- and taillight lenses, meanwhile, are aggressive without being overly in-yer-face – the Angel Eye items seen on the Acura RDX, for example, are a much more aggressive take. My Executive trim tester features tri-beam LED lights, including the foglights and DRLs. The wheels and paint, meanwhile, are fine if unspectacular., 100% online, shop for your next car, buy online and get it delivered to you anywhere in Quebec!

2022 Lexus RX 450h, interior
2022 Lexus RX 450h, interior
Photo: D.Heyman

The interior
Inside, my RX’s caramel interior with contrasting black accents is a good take. Light brown interiors can really be hit or miss, but Lexus has done well here and it provides good contrast to the exterior paint.

The details are great, too, for instance the patented analogue clock just below the infotainment display is always nice to glance at and while the gauge cluster is analogue, the fonts are clear and legible and the TFT display between the two is a nice touch. I was also surprised to find that I actually liked the piano-black sections of the perfectly-sized wheel rim; usually, piano black bugs me as it attracts dust and finger smudges like it’s going out of style, but it works here, even though your hands are all over it, all the time.     

The infotainment display is a great big widescreen affair, but I much prefer the way it presents itself in Apple CarPlay mode than in the native mode, because the Toyota/Lexus infotainment interface is a bore to look at and the touchpad used to move the cursor around is very hit-and-miss.

Luckily, it’s also a touchscreen display – but you need long arms. Its quite wide at 12.3-inch and though they did move the display closer to the driver after a 2020 facelift, it’s still a really long reach for the driver, especially if – like myself – you have to move the seat back to accommodate longer legs.

I also don’t love the backup camera. It’s nice that it’s a split-screen affair so you can have both a rear-view and top-down view, but the resolution could be better, that’s for sure. Other luxury models have far clearer – we’re talking OLED level, here – displays than this.

It’s strange that the display is such a reach away because the dash is deep to the point that the windshield seems acres away – that’s what can happen with such a steeply-raked windscreen. The display is perched right on the edge of it, but it’s not enough to bring it close enough.

Lexus RX 450h 2022, first row of seats
Lexus RX 450h 2022, first row of seats
Photo: D.Heyman

That’s not to say I don’t like the interior overall. Other than the reach to the display, the driver seating position is a good one and the seats are very, very comfortable both front and back (this isn’t the L model, so it has just two rows of seating), and come heated and cooled up front and heated in the rear. The climate controls are made up of traditional buttons as opposed to a touch panel (huzzah!) which means they’re much easier to operate while on the move and the cabin is ensconcing yet airy all at once, both front and back.

In addition to adding the special headlights, the $14,050 Executive Package my tester benefited from adds wireless charging, panoramic moonroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, power-tilt and telescoping steering wheel, HUD, premium leather seating, 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio, intuitive park assist (which doesn’t allow the SUV to park itself but adds extra sensors to help you complete the task, though it will automatically apply the brakes for you), paddle shifters and power adjusting heated wing mirrors.

All of that’s well and good, but it seems strange that functions like Apple CarPlay are found here, when that feature is becoming standard on crossovers and cars with a much smaller cost of entry than the $60,250 the RX 450h commands at base.

As equipped, meanwhile, you’re looking at $74,300 before taxes for my tester. Which, when compared with competition in the form of the Acura RDX and Genesis GV80 is actually a very fair price and one of the strengths of the RX 450h package, and one of the big reasons the model is so attractive to buyers.

Lexus RX 450h 2022, profil
Lexus RX 450h 2022, profil
Photo: D.Boshouwers

Another draw for the RX – and this is probably the bigger of the two – is that once you’re sitting in its and drive off, you immediately just feel right. The SUV runs incredibly quietly, the seating is super comfy as mentioned, and you feel the benefits of the newly-tuned chassis as soon as you pull away. Even at slow or middling speeds, the RX wafts gamely over common urban road imperfections. It’s an almost intangible feeling that you get, but you know that this here’s a crossover that’s pulled its boots on nice and tight.

Of course, a lot of that quietness has to do with the fact that the “h” in my tester’s name designates it as a hybrid model, capable of cruising in EV mode for short periods. Know, however, that “short” means exactly that - as soon as you try accelerating quickly, EV mode is deactivated as you’re scolded by a little message in the gauge cluster. EV mode is more for driving in low-load moments, and you’ll spend most of your time with both EV and gas power engaged.

So doing, you can expect fuel consumption figures in the low 10s, which is fine for a big, heavy luxurious crossover like this. You can let the system do the work itself, or press a button to activate EV ode which, if enough juice is available, will keep it in EV mode for longer than the computer nannies would allow otherwise.

Power is rated at 308 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque (a figure that can vary depending on which aspects of the powertrain you’re employing), which is fine for easy cruising but will start to sound just a little stressed if you’re accelerating up a mountain hill for a pass. What’s more, the gas engine can sound just a little harsh when strained, which is obviously at odds with the rest of the RX450h experience. You can flip between drive modes to change things, including a Sport setting, but I have a feeling most will keep it in Eco mode and be done with it, because that’s really what this is about: keep it comfortable, keep it efficient. Also helping on the efficiency side – but less so on the NVH side – is the CVT transmission. This is no ordinary CVT, however, as first gear is a traditional gear, providing a little boost of acceleration.

2022 Lexus RX 450h, three-quarters front
2022 Lexus RX 450h, three-quarters front
Photo: D.Heyman

Even with a few years under its belt, the RX450h is still a proper luxury cruiser. It does what it’s designed to very well, and it stays in its lane, literally thanks to electronic assistance) and figuratively in that it knows what it’s meant to be and sticks to that. It’s luxurious both in appointment and ride, it looks the part and adds the bonus of hybridization which, for many, is a big bonus indeed.

We like

Fantastic ride and handling
Well priced
Hybrid a bonus
We like less
Some ergonomic issues
Native infotainment is a bore
Could use more torque
The competition

Acura MDX
Audi Q7
Buick Enclave
Cadillac XT6
Genesis GV80
Infiniti QX60
Lincoln Nautilus
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Porsche Cayenne
Volvo XC90

2022 Lexus RX 450h, rear
2022 Lexus RX 450h, rear
Photo: D.Heyman

Road Tests and Reviews

2022 Lexus RX
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2022 Lexus RX 450h pictures