Buyer's Guide

2021 Lexus Rx
Select a Different Model (15 Available): 350 AWD
Fuel Economy $ 19 / 26 mpg
Cargo (Std/Max) 16/33 cu.ft.
Seating (Std/Max) 5/5
Horsepower 295@6,300
See All Specs
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer
2021 Lexus RX MODEL OVERVIEW

Pros

  • Comfortable, nicely appointed interior
  • Strong and efficient hybrid powertrain
  • Many standard active-safety features

Cons

  • F Sport suspension is stiff; not sporty
  • Slow-responding eight-speed automatic
  • Available third row is uselessly cramped

The Lexus RX has nearly as many angles and creases as it does horsepower. Radical styling helps it stand out in a crowded segment, but it's tuned for sedate cruising more than driver involvement. Still, the segment might not exist without the RX. The original RX, which was introduced for 1999, was the first SUV built using unibody architecture based on a car's chassis—the fundamental format for all of today's crossovers. The current fourth-generation RX is available with two or three rows of seats and an available hybrid powertrain.

What's New

  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert becomes standard on all trims
  • Power-folding, auto-dimming side mirrors are now included
  • Wireless charging pad is added to the options list
  • New caramel-colored upholstery replaces last year's brown
  • Limited-production Black Line Special Edition trim package offered

What We Think

Few vehicles match the Lexus RX in dissonance between styling and performance. Its edgy looks are eye-catching and modern, but the RX doesn't like to be pushed. The F Sport package's stiffer suspension worsens the ride without commensurate handling improvements. Even so, it's still comfortable enough in everyday driving scenarios.

Comfort is enhanced in the RX 450h hybrid, which allows for gracefully smooth driving. At the same time, its electrified powertrain feels more peppy than the standard V-6. Better responses and improved fuel economy make us think the RX 450h is the pick of the lineup if you are OK with the price premium that's about $3,000 above FWD RX 350s.

Interior comfort may be the RX's highlight. Soft-touch surfaces abound, and there's plenty of cubbies for daily carry items. The first two rows are spacious, though the L model's third row is cramped to the point of uselessness. Lexus has addressed its maddening trackpad-controlled infotainment by switching to touchscreen displays, but ease of use could still be improved.

Aided by Lexus' known reliability, the RX presents a strong value among luxury crossovers. It looks far more exciting than it is to drive, but drivers who seek a comfortable SUV with hybrid efficiency could do worse than the RX.

Performance and Fuel Economy

A 3.5-liter V-6 produces 295 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque in the RX 350, or 290 hp and 263 lb-ft in the RX 350L. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends that output to the front wheels; AWD is optional. In MotorTrend testing, an AWD RX 350 accelerated to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, while a FWD RX 350L did the same in 7.5 seconds. For the RX 350, EPA-rated fuel economy is 20/27 mpg city/highway with FWD, or 19/26 with AWD. For the RX 350L, it's 19/26 or 18/25 mpg, respectively.

The RX 450h and RX 450hL also have a 3.5-liter V-6, but it's supplemented by an electric motor for a combined output of 308 hp. These models use a CVT automatic with standard AWD. We last tested one hitting 60 in 7.0 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy is 31/28 mpg for the RX 450h, or 29/28 mpg for the RX 450hL.

Safety

When tested by the NHTSA for 2020, the RX earned a five-star overall safety rating, the highest possible score. RX models equipped with the available triple-beam LED headlights earned 2020 Top Safety Pick designation from the NHTSA.

For 2021, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert become standard equipment. Active safety and driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and automatic high-beams are also included.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

In the RX, cargo space measures 16.0 cubic feet behind the second row, or 32.6 cubic feet with the second row folded down. In the RX L models, there are 6.2 cubic feet behind the third row, 23.0 cubic feet with the third row folded, and 58.5 cubic feet with the second row folded, as well.

Front-row headroom measures 39.4 inches in the RX, which compares to 40.7 inches in the BMW X5. Second-row headroom is 39.1 inches in the RX, a bit less than the X5's 39.4 inches. Front-row legroom is 44.1 inches in the Lexus, much more than the 39.8 inches in the BMW. Second-row legroom is 38.0 inches in the RX, a bit more than 37.4 inches in the X5.

RX L models have similar measurements in the first and second rows but add a third-row seat providing 34.8 inches of headroom and 23.5 inches of legroom.

Technology

As standard the RX includes an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and Bluetooth connectivity. An available 12.3-inch display adds built-in navigation. After updates to the 2020 model, the larger screen is just over 5 inches closer to the driver and has touchscreen functionality. All models include six USB ports throughout the cabin. Features including a wireless charging pad, head-up display, and 360-degree view camera system are available. A nine-speaker audio system is standard and can be replaced by a 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium setup.

What Is Included in the F Sport Package?

Just because the RX is a comfort-oriented SUV doesn't mean it can't look cool. That's what the RX F Sport package is for. It adds performance-inspired touches to help the RX look more like, well, something it's not—a sporty SUV. On the exterior, these include more aggressive front and rear bumpers, black side mirror caps, and 20-inch multi-spoke wheels. Inside, sport seats, aluminum trim, ambient lighting, and metal pedals are fitted.

Although the F Sport's engine is unchanged, its suspension dampers are tuned for a tighter feel. Additionally, an available handling package adds adaptive suspension and recalibrated steering and a more lenient stability control system. A cold-air intake and sound enhancement help add some character. All RX F Sport models also have a repositioned tachometer that could theoretically aid your line of sight if you were to, say, take your RX on a racetrack.

Key Competitors:

2021 LEXUS RX SPECIFICATIONS
OVERVIEW
FEATURES
WARRANTY/RECALL
SAFETY
REBATES
Engine Name
Engine: V6 3.5 Liter
Transmission Name
Transmission, Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence (ECVT-i
Trim
350 AWD
Class
Premium Mid-Size Utility
Horsepower
295@6,300
Standard MPG
19/26
Body Style
SUV/Crossover
Drivetrain
AWD
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
5/5
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
Unlimited
Maintenance Warranty Months
none
Corrosion Warranty Months
72
Powertrain Warranty Miles
70,000
Full Warranty Miles
50,000
Powertrain Warranty Months
72
Full Warranty Months
48
Roadside Assistance Miles
unlimited
Maintenance Warranty Miles
N/R
Roadside Assistance Months
48
IIHS Best Pick
0
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$1000 Lexus announces a Bonus Cash on select models for eligible current owners. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 03-01-2021
$2500 Lexus announces a Retail Cash on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 03-01-2021
$0 0.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Lexus announces special APR financing on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 03-01-2021
$0 1.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Lexus announces special APR financing on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 03-01-2021
$1000 Lexus announces a College Graduate Reward Program on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 03-01-2021
$1000 Lexus announces Bonus Cash on select models for eligible Military personnel. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 03-01-2021
$1750 Lexus announces a Lease Cash on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 03-01-2021