2016 Lexus RX 450h Pairs Lexus Luxury with Hybrid Performance

2016 Lexus RX 450h

The RX 450h was totally remodeled for the 2016 model year and it shows. Styling is much less in your face, but still polarizing. As with all Lexus vehicles, the interior is superb, but the drivability of the 2016 RX 450h is much improved over the previous model.

The manufacturer says

An Atkinson-cycle V6 is paired with Lexus Hybrid Drive to deliver 308 total system horsepower* and control without compromise.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Lexus
  • Year, Model: 2016 RX 450h
  • Class, Type: Luxury SUV
  • Propulsion system: V6 and EV
  • Base Price: $53,035
  • MSRP as tested: $64,610
  • Availability: Now

Overview

Toyota has, without question, mastered the hybrid-electric powertrain. Their engine, transmission, and electric motor pairings set standards for the industry. The 2016 Lexus RX 450h is an excellent example of that mastery, blending the efficiency of a hybrid with the fun drive of a top-shelf crossover.

That doesn’t mean it’s not without faults, but they are focused on two things: acceleration and the infotainment interface. The former comes because, as a hybrid, efficiency is still Lexus’ primary goal with the powertrain. Buyers more interested in peppy takeoffs and fast freeway passes should be looking at the gasoline option (RX 350), not the hybrid. The latter is endemic to all Lexus models, which use the Remote Touch infotainment interface. It’s by far the worst in the business with terrible user friendliness and distracting menu interaction.

The 2016 RX 450h is otherwise very well done. On the exterior, the looks are polarizing, to be sure, but have an almost concept car feel about them that really grabs the eye. This is definitely a unique-looking vehicle that won’t be mistaken for something else. Lexus is working hard to differentiate itself from not only the competition, but the Toyota penchant for “boring is good.” That really shows here and it’s very likable.

Inside, the RX 450h is very well-appointed and comfortable. That also fits the Lexus expectation. Cargo space was compromised in the RX to make for more rear passenger room, but we feel that’s a good tradeoff given the intended market for this midsize luxury crossover. Despite the sleek, sports-car-like exterior look, the RX 450h has excellent interior headroom and legroom.

A few revisions were made to improve power output for the RX 450h over the previous-generation, but fuel economy is still the primary goal. A 3.5-liter V6 is mated to a transmission that includes two electric motor/generators. An additional motor is added to power the rear wheels, eliminating the need for a driveshaft in all-wheel drive models. This is a setup also seen in the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid.

In the 2016 RX 450h, that setup equates to 30 mpg combined, with 31 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The numbers are almost identical with AWD, going to 30 mpg combined (30/28). That’s a lot of economy for this segment.

As with most Lexus models, there are few trim options for the RX 450h. It’s sold very well-equipped as a base model with only the F-Sport option (AWD-only) with some styling trim additions and larger wheels. Options are packaged in the Luxury, Tow, and Safety System + packages. These add respective technology and driver aid tech to the deal.

What we like

Much less “in your face” exterior design.

Excellent interior with an extremely quiet ride.

What we don't

Horrible infotainment interface.

Slow acceleration.

Conclusions

After a week in the 2016 Lexus RX 450h, we were impressed. This luxury crossover is very well-balanced with a great ride quality, good handling, wonderful luxury, and stellar fuel economy. We still think that the Lexus infotainment system is the worst on the market, but we didn’t mind the sluggish acceleration given the MPG payoff it comes with. In all, the 2016 RX 450h is a great luxury crossover.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The RX 450h was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, we put a total of about 200 miles on the vehicle.

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