Lexus RX L 450h review

The Lexus RX L 450h adds an extra two seats and a larger boot to make the car even more appealing to company-car drivers.

£50,995 - £61,995
Hybrid

Pros

  • Seven-seat practicality
  • Smooth and refined
  • High-quality interior

Cons

  • A bit bland to drive
  • Poor infotainment system
  • Space is limited in seven-seat mode

When Lexus launched the RX in 1998 – under the name Toyota Harrier in Japan – it created one of the world’s first premium crossovers. It went on to enjoy considerable success, especially in the USA, and some 2.7 million units have been sold worldwide across four generations.

As a luxury SUV, the Lexus RX competes with the likes of the BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Audi Q7, but the RX L offers an extra couple of seats, giving it the edge over many of its rivals.

The RX L 450h is a ‘self-charging hybrid’, with a pair of electric motors on hand to improve fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions and deliver a couple of miles of zero-emission driving in short bursts. Unlike some of its plug-in hybrid rivals, there are no charging cables and no chance of completing your daily commute in electric mode – unless you live a mile from your office.

The seven-seat RX L is available with one powertrain: a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine mated to a pair of electric motors – one on the front and one on the rear axle. Total output is 308bhp, delivering a 0-62mph time of eight seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

There are three trim levels: SE, Luxury and Premier. All are well equipped, offering a comprehensive safety package, four driving modes, triple-zone climate control and an electric tailgate. At £60,000, the flagship Premier model might seem expensive, but the additional safety kit, Mark Levinson sound system and an enhanced feeling of luxury make it hard to ignore.

The RX L is 110mm longer than the standard RX, with the extra length found in the bodywork at the back. At 5,000mm, the RX L 450h is the same length as the Range Rover, but the ‘origami’ design language makes it one of the most striking family SUVs on the market.

From the front to the rear wheels, the design is the same as the standard RX, but the steeper angle of the tailgate window creates the extra space required for the third row of seats. Lexus told us that the RX L was designed with the US market in mind, yet still expects the seven-seat version to account for a third of all RX sales in the UK.

Lexus claims that children will be comfortable in the third row of seats and that’s true, up to a point. It’s a tight squeeze back there, even for small children, although the cup-holders and independent air-conditioning controls will help on long journeys.

The 60:40 split-folding middle bench has been raised to make room for the third-row passengers, but for adequate legroom you must slide the bench forward to an extent that hampers the space in the second row. It’s a sacrifice some families will be prepared to make, but the RX L 450h remains a 5+2 SUV rather than a true seven-seater in the style of the Volvo XC90.

Fold the split-folding third row down – which is done electronically by a pair of buttons – and families are treated to 495 litres of boot space – up from 453 litres in the standard RX. Space is adequate, then, but not a patch on the 451 litres offered by the XC90 with all seven seats in place. Similarly, the Audi Q7 offers 770 litres in five-seat mode.

Further forward, the interior is well appointed and luxurious, but let down by the occasional cheap plastic and poor infotainment system. The sat nav looks and feels dated, while the joystick control mechanism is odd and awkward. But the overall quality shines through, with a sense that everything is built to last. 

The RX L 450h drives well, but is at its best at a leisurely pace and when covering long distances. At 2.2 tonnes, there’s an awful lot of weight to carry around, and while the hybrid system makes for smooth progress and adequate performance, this isn’t an SUV to be hurried.

The Lexus RX L 450h stands out in the luxury SUV sector, and this longer version will appeal to families in need of the extra seats or a larger boot. Given the company’s excellent reliability record, it’s likely to deliver years of fault-free driving.

For a more detailed look at the Lexus RX L 450h, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.