2016 Lexus RX 450h AWD F Sport
Starting price - $ 57,045
Price as tested - $ 60,015
The newly redesigned Lexus RX 450h AWD F Sport was first revealed in 2015. Since then, there has been a lot of talk regarding the fresh new look. Since the first crossover model was revealed in 1998, Lexus has really set the bar high for the luxury crossover market. Four generations later, the Lexus RX has become one of the top selling vehicles in its class. Lexus was sure to provide everything that one needs for everyday driving, from performance to traveling with a family. Further enhancing the experience is the hybrid motor, which has increased efficiency and reliability since the first one was produced in 2005.
At first look, you can certainly recognize the new styling Lexus has introduced during the redesign of its lineup. From the IS to the RX, the massive grill has become an instant identifier of the newer Lexus models. The RX received a facelift in its redesign, as well as 5” in additional body length. We were able to review the F Sport model, which has additional features to contribute to the upgraded performance look, such as 20” aluminum alloy wheels. It also has a tighter suspension than the traditional model, but I don’t really think it makes a huge difference. The F-Sport designation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s faster, just has a sportier look and badging. Perhaps most noticeable, the grill on the F-sport model is different. The standard models have a straight grill where the F-Sport model has the honeycomb look. The front has a lower front defuser and small aero trim along the edge. The back, since this is a hybrid the exhaust is slightly hidden. On non-hybrid models you’ll have a dual chrome tip exiting the back.
The interior received a massive make over, for which I give big applause. In previous models, I was never too thrilled about the small dash screen being hidden far back into the dash. Immediately I noticed bigger 12.3” monitor that is way more visible than previous models. The dash has been lowered giving a cleaner look than a bulky rounded off dash. Sitting in the driver’s seat is so much better...you really feel like you’re in a sports car rather than an SUV. It really wraps around the driver with all everyday needed controls right at your fingertips. Everything looks easy to navigate through and flows very well. The center console might be my favorite part of the interior.
To control the display, Lexus moved away from the mouse pad and returned to the control mouse. I personally like it better than the pad, my wife absolutely hates it. Where your palm would normally rest, on both sides of the mouse you have an enter button to quickly accept setting changes. There is also a small compartment where you can store keys, chapstick, a stick of gum, etc. One of the coolest features is in the cup holders. Don’t you hate when the cup holders are too shallow for a water bottle and it is always in danger of tipping over? Well now you can adjust the depth of the cup holder to match the beverage you have with a touch of a button. Really creative. Lexus still has the signature grandfather time clock on center dash but also added a digital clock on the driver’s instrument panel. Really, everything is completely redesigned. Depending on model you get, you will have your heated and cold seat options just in front of the shifter. If you take a look at a close up of the driver’s seat, you’ll think you are seeing a picture of the RC sports coupe interior.
As I mentioned earlier, the vehicle was stretched out by 5”, which means the already roomy back seat of the previous model RX models just got bigger. You can have the front seats all the way back and still fit a tall person in the back. I am 6’ tall and sitting in back I still had about 4-5 inches from my knees to the back of the seat. The back seat still reclines and slides forward. You do have an option to add motorized back seats so it will fold down and up automatically. Cool, but I don’t think it’s really needed (and it’s slow). Having the extra room in the back seat is so nice, especially with kids as there is no more sacrificing front seat leg room to accommodate massive infant or convertible car seats. The back really feels gigantic with the leg and head room, and a large cargo area. Though you lose a bit of room towards the rear with the way the body curves, it’s still larger than a BMW X3 or Mercedes GLX. You also have option to add two monitors to the back of the front seats for an additional $2,000. I don’t recommend it if you plan to use an infant seat as the back of the infant seat is perfectly leveled to the screen and can possibly damage it. Otherwise, you are all set. It’s a pretty large monitor and you can easy navigate through the on screen settings.
I live in downtown Chicago. So being a hybrid, I was really curious to see how it will do in the stop and go traffic we have 24/7. Most hybrids don’t do anywhere close to what the advertised mpg ratings are. This Lexus is equipped with a 3.5L 24 valve DOHC V6. The combination of the engine and electric motor produces 309 horsepower. Lexus advertises 30mpg in city and 28 mpg on highway giving you an average of 30mpg. I was averaging 26mpg in the city and about 29mpg on highway. I have to say I was impressed with the mpg I was getting in the city from a big heavy SUV. I was driving it pretty aggressively and it still gave me that average. You have 4 power options you can choose from. Eco, normal, Super & Super+. Nothing too crazy but it’s nice to have the option to have the power to your liking.
The RX 450h AWD drove great throughout the wonderful roads that Chicago has to offer. Being an F-Sport model, it is equipped with a tighter suspension and low profile tires, but honestly it was still a smooth ride. The turning ratio is average being an AWD vehicle. This is an electronic AWD, meaning this vehicle is designed for inclement weather and not for off roading. Most of the power is towards the front wheels, but you can still tow up to 3,000 pounds. It’s really not a car designed to be a workhorse but it’s definitely enough to haul your wave runners, motorcycles and small trailers. The cabin is well sealed and really reduces a lot of the outside noise. I really like the heads up display for the driver. One of my favorite features is the 360-degree view of your surroundings on the dash display. It is great for parking and maneuvering in small areas. I have seen various models with this feature but I really like it on this one. It also has all your basic needs with blind spot warning, park assist, brake assist and my favorite proximity cruise control, something my wife not a fan off.
Overall, in the past I don’t think we would have considered purchasing an RX, but after having spent time with this one we have changed our minds and were sad to give it back. I like that you really don’t feel like you’re driving a cross over. It feels and looks very sporty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stopped asking me questions about it. Everywhere I drove people would point and just stare. I liked everything about it, though ideally it would have the addition of a power inverter to plug in a 2 or 3 prong plug, rear heated seats and more aux charging plugs. This model could also use a rear passenger climate control. Being the 4th generation I am sure eventually they may add these options. Oh, and last I can’t forget mentioning about the massive panoramic sunroof. Not only does it have a massive glass roof, but you can have the sunroof in tilt mode and still have half the sunroof covered by the shade, preventing sun getting to the kids in the back seat. Big plus!!! Thank you Lexus. Little things like that are what I look for when having children on board. Who doesn’t like a sleeping child during long trips? Please make your way to your nearest Lexus dealership if you’re in the market for a cross over. You won’t be disappointed on the new models. I’d like to thank Lexus USA for the opportunity to review this vehicle.
Photographs taken by Chris Chavez Photography