Lexus RX 450hL review
Want a premium SUV with lots of seats, but never venture out of town? Check out the Lexus RX 450hL.
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on January 25, 2019

What are you driving?

The new extended version of the fourth-generation Lexus RX, called the RX 450hL. That little 'h' confirms that it's still a hybrid-only model line-up and this larger version shares the same 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and two electric motors with its five-seat sibling. That's right, the RX L is a seven-seat, four-wheel-drive SUV. The frontal styling is unchanged - and as distinctive as ever - and the wheelbase is also the same. However, there's a 110mm stretch in the bodywork behind the rear wheels to accommodate the extra row of seats. The new tailgate is more upright as well, and the overall height has increased by 15mm. All this adds a considerable 100kg to the weight and blunts performance and efficiency a tad.

Prices start at €82,450, for the RX 450hL Luxury, which represents a €4,400 premium over the equivalent five-seat version (that is offered in a lower-spec grade as well, costing less again). Highlights of this specification include 20-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control, satnav, three-zone climate control, heated and electrically adjusted front seats and leather upholstery. The third row of seats fold away electrically, too, as standard.

If you fancy even more whistles and bells, the RX 450hL AWD Premium costs €92,550. It gets upgraded LED headlights, unique 20-inch wheels, an upgraded Mark Levinson sound system, head-up display, heating for the rear seats, upgraded front seats and more luxurious leather.

Other large SUVs in this price space include the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes GLE, Range Rover Sport, Volkswagen Touareg and Volvo XC90.

Name its best bits

The extra versatility of the RX 450hL appeals. Not only does it come with an extra two seats, the middle row can slide fore and aft by 150mm so you can divide up the available space as you see fit. And, if you don't need the back seats, they fold down flat at the touch of a button, creating a huge boot.

Other than that, it's worth reiterating how cultured this car's V6 petrol engine is, meaning it doesn't matter if the CVT gearbox holds it higher revs when accelerating, for example. To be fair, it's super-quiet most of the time and far more refined than most diesel SUV alternatives. It makes a lot of sense for those that don't venture outside city limits, though if you drive prudently, it's almost as economical as a diesel car of this size at a cruise.

Anything that bugs you?

I expected there to be more room inside, to be honest, but those extra rear seats are only of use (even to children) when the middle row is moved forward, meaning that this is not a car for a big family of tall teenagers.

And why have you given it this rating?

While the RX 450hL isn't quite the full-sized MPV in a sharp suit some might expect, it comes with an appealing mix of distinctive style, unimpeachable interior quality and engineering integrity, plus a future-proofed powertrain that is at home in an urban situation and yet perfectly capable of long distance, too. For those that want to move away from diesel power for their large luxury SUV, it makes for a tempting choice.

What do the rest of the team think?

Lexus has done a good job in not altering the look of the RX too much to accommodate the third row of seats. However, they remain too limited in terms of the passenger space they provide to be of any real use. The driving experience, however, is quiet, refined and comfortable and the hybrid system is ideally suited to those sticking to urban commuting.

Dave Humphreys - Road Test Editor

It's hard not to like the Lexus RX 450hL, to be honest. It's big, stylish (well, I like the way it looks anyway) and has a truly gorgeous - and sumptuously comfortable - cabin. The weak link is actually the rear seating - the extra seats are just too tight to be of much real use, and struggle, I feel, to justify the extra cost over the five-seat version.

Neil Briscoe - Editor-at-Large


Tech Specs

Model testedLexus RX 450hL AWD Luxury
Pricingstarts at €82,450 as tested
Engine3.5-litre V6 petrol assisted by electric motors
TransmissionCVT automatic, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, seven-seat SUV
CO2 emissions136g/km (Band B2, €280 per annum)
Combined economy47.9mpg (5.9 litres/100km)
Top speed180km/h
0-100km/h8.0 seconds
Power262hp at 6,000rpm for engine; 313hp system maximum
Torque335Nm at 4,600rpm for engine
Boot space211 litres (all seats up); 652 litres (third-row seats down); 1,656 litres (all rear seats down)
SafetyEuro NCAP rating for Lexus RX
Rivals to the Lexus RX