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Lexus RX 500h (2022 - )

That was when the very first RX was launched and now, more than two decades later, we are driving the latest fifth-generation model.

Starting price:
£74,950

Why we love it:
  • Fastest RX to date with emphasis on performance
  • Beautifully refined cabin packed with tech
  • Still delivers impressive efficiency
Where it could be better:
  • Driver assistance aids beep rather a lot
  • Some competitors offer more dynamic handling
  • Over-complicated infotainment system with lots of sub menus
Secure your test drive today
Request a Lexus RX test drive

Introduction

Lexus RX 500h

There’s no denying the fact – we are SUV bonkers and Lexus proudly lays claim to being the company that introduced the world to the first of these popular vehicles back in 1999.

That was when the very first RX was launched and now, more than two decades later, we are driving the latest fifth-generation model. In the years between, the RX has clocked up 3.5 million sales globally and the UK has accounted for 57,000 of them.

We have recently seen the RX 350h, the new self-charging hybrid electric model, followed swiftly by the RX 450h+ which is the first plug-in hybrid version of the car. Now we get the RX 500h and it also has plenty to shout about.

That’s because the RX 500h is the company’s first performance-focused turbocharged hybrid with six-speed automatic transmission and Direct4 all-wheel drive torque control. While other RX models have a variety of trim levels, the RX 500h is available exclusively as an F Sport model (with or without a Takumi Pack) and can be easily identified by a number of exclusive styling traits both inside and out.

Lexus RX 500h

When Lexus looked to developing its fifth-generation five-door RX, designers were given a strict brief. The car needed a stronger identity with dynamic styling that reflects its handling ability. And the end result is a sharply-styled model that looks muscular without appearing aggressive and captures the attention of any passer-by.

Blacked out rear pillars give the floating roof effect a stronger three-dimensional look and the car features a large spindle grille and slim headlights. The test car also boasted lots of F Sport-specific design traits, including dedicated 10-spoke 21-inch alloy wheels with matt black finish, black roof rails and door mirrors, F Sport front and rear bumpers, black F Sport badging and additional black stainless-steel mouldings on the doors and bumpers.

The interior is beautifully designed with Dark Rose leather sports seats featuring Ultrasuede bolsters and these seats are power adjusted and can be heated or ventilated. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is also powered and can be heated. With F Sport badging throughout, along with soft-touch surfaces and the finest material, this is a perfect example of Lexus craftsmanship.

On-board tech is plentiful with the main focal point being a 14-inch multimedia infotainment touchscreen with clear graphics. This is the nerve centre of the car and offers access to the Lexus cloud-based navigation system, 12-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and plenty more besides.

Other features include a colour head-up display, 360-degree panoramic view monitor and a voice assistant that can be summoned by saying ‘Hey Lexus’ and this will help with tasks such as finding a new destination, making a phone call and changing the radio station.

On The Road

Lexus RX 500h

Handling & Performance

The RX 500h is being viewed as a game-changer for Lexus setting it apart from any hybrid model that has gone before. That’s because the focus is has shifted from efficiency to performance.

It features a 2.4-litre turbo petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission, integrated front control unit, hybrid battery and 76kW rear e-axle. Sounds complicated, but the total output is 366bhp with 550Nm of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph sprint time of just 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 130mph.

So, fair to say it’s pretty quick then. And another plus feature is the ‘proper’ six-speed automatic gearbox, replacing the CVT boxes usually favoured by Lexus. With paddles, the driver has extra control of gear shifting and there are drive modes to alter the handling. These are accessed via the touchscreen which is a bit of a drawback compared to a physical switch and they are called Normal, Eco, Sport and Custom. Sport is the most fun!

The car also features Direct4, an intelligent all-wheel drive system that uses a separate electric motor and inverter to balance the power and torque between the front and rear axles. This, in turn, delivers improved handling, stability and driving dynamics at higher speeds. And it means there is less body sway too which is always a plus factor. For any real geeks out there, there is a graphic display that shows which wheels the torque is being directed to.

Lexus is a company renowned for developing luxury cruising cars and, despite being a performance model, the RX 500h is still beautifully refined when put to the test. It eats up motorway miles for fun while occupants are protected from any outside noise intrusion thanks to the insulated cabin.

It boasts excellent grip and bundles of instant pace when fizzing down twisting country lanes and the elevated seating offers a great view across the hedgerows.

And despite the RX 500h feeling quite large when driving around town purely because of its size, the superb driver visibility is a major plus point, especially if the vehicle is used on the school run with children, cyclists and other motorists darting out from all angles.

Lexus RX 500h

Space & Practicality

The five-door Lexus RX is a larger-than-life family SUV that is big on character and very big in size. It’s hard to miss with such bold dimensions stretching 4,890mm in length, 1,920mm across (excluding mirrors) and 1,695mm tall. 

Although the fifth-generation RX is exactly the same length as its predecessor, the wheelbase has increased by 60mm to 2,850mm and that results in extra space for passengers along with a larger boot.

There’s ample room for five occupants to sit comfortably and, with the RX 500h being billed as a full-sized SUV, it needs to cover all the demands of family holidays. It does just that with its large boot accessed via a powered tailgate. This can accommodate 612 litres of luggage, a limit that increases significantly with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And there is a hidden compartment beneath the boot floor.

In addition, the RX can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to two tonnes and the 500h version also adds the reassurance of the all-wheel drive torque system.

Throughout the cabin there are numerous convenient and practical storage compartments, including a locking glovebox, a deep side-hinged central cubby that can be opened by the driver or passenger, seat back pockets, wide door bins with space to store a water bottle, cup holders with adjustable heights and some covered trays.

Wide opening rear doors offer easy access to child seats and there are Isofix fixtures to the outer seats. And special mention to the e-Latch electronic door release system that is linked to the blind spot monitor and prevents the door from being opened if a cyclist or car is detected. It can be deactivated in an emergency though.

Ownership

Lexus RX 500h

Running Costs

The Lexus RX self-charging hybrid line-up starts at £59,950 for the 350h Premium Pack model. But we are concentrating on the two high performance RX 500h versions in F Sport, as tested, which costs £74,950 and F Sport with Takumi Pack priced at £79,950.

The turbocharged hybrid with Direct4 all-wheel drive can deliver a combined 34.0-35.3mpg with carbon emissions of 182-183g/km. And that CO2 figure means quite a hefty first-year road tax bill of £1,040 dropping to the standard fee for hybrids of £170 after 12 months. Until the regulations change in 2025, owners of hybrids still benefit from a £10 reduction compared to the VED costs for standard petrol and diesel cars.

However, because the car has a price-tag that exceeds £40k it falls into the government’s premium car category which results in an added charge of £390 for five years after year one.

Anyone hoping to secure this RX as a company car will discover the high carbon emissions figure results in a less-than-attractive Benefit in Kind rating of 37 per cent, and the car as tested sits in insurance group 46.

On the up side, Toyota and Lexus recently introduced a refreshed warranty scheme. Although the vehicle is sold with a fairly standard three-year, 60,000-mile package, it can easily be extended free of charge to 10 years or 100,000 miles so long as the car is serviced regularly at an authorised Lexus workshop. And the warranty policy is also transferable if the model is sold on.

Verdict

Lexus RX 500h

Lexus has always developed cars that deliver on every count when it comes to luxury, elegance and sophistication. But this RX 500h proves there can also be an edge factored into the mix. The performance and handling are really impressive in a car that still oozes charm and premium quality.

Secure your test drive today
Request a Lexus RX test drive
By Maxine Ashford
Apr 06, 2023

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