So, the decision has been made to purchase a Lexus RX model. The question then becomes – which one of the midsize sport utility vehicles do you want?
Lexus doesn’t make the decision an easy one. There’s the RX 350 for folks who want a traditional gas-only SUV. There’s also the RX 450h, a hybrid that has some appealing qualities. One more SUV to place in the mix is the RX 450hl. The letter L refers to extended length, in this case enough for a third row. It’s the only RX model with an available third row that increases overall seating to six or seven people.
Our test model was the 2020 Lexus RX 450hl. Upon delivery we immediately checked out the third row and promptly pushed a couple of convenient rear buttons and it disappeared to the floor. Like far too many third rows, this one is tiny, can transport kids only, and leaves a meager 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Due to the insufficient third row, we recommend the RX 450h.
Regardless of which RX one chooses, one thing is for certain – the purchase of an attractive, well-equipped SUV. All the RX models are sharp looking, offer a good ride, solid performance, very good fuel economy, and have their share of upscale amenities that one expects from a luxury brand.
There is competition; Lexus doesn’t own the luxury midsize SUV segment. But the RX has been around since 1998 and its popularity continues, evidenced by total sales of 111,64 last year. The rivals include the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Acura RDX and BMW X5.
One major change for 2020 that will receive applause is dumping the hard-to-maneuver mouse and adding the more user-friendly touchscreen infotainment controls. Trying to drive and work the center console mouse was a major distraction. The touchscreen is now 5.5-inches closer to the driver and has readily accessible controls for both climate and audio. Also, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard.
The RX 450hl features an elegantly-styled cabin. It has a sizable 12.3-inch dash display (there’s a new optional 12.3-inch touchscreen), considerable storage areas, a top-shelf audio system, good overall space, and comfort in the first two rows of seating.
The lone engine is a 3.5-liter, V6 engine that combines with the electric motors to produce 308 horsepower. We found the 450hL more than capable performance-wise. It was never lacking in powering up sizeable grades or in passing situations. So, we were a bit surprised to learn that it only went 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds.
At a Glance – 2020 Lexus RX 450hl
- Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 308 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 28-29 mpg
- Price estimate: $50,600 to $56,600
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited; corrosion: 6 years/unlimited
Although the 450hL carries a little more weight than other RX models, the handling is excellent and so is the braking power. Giving the driver more piece of mind is the standard safety features that include forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and emergency communications. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are options.
Besides the secure driving acumen, the vehicle’s fuel economy is another major plus. There aren’t a lot of luxury midsize crossover SUVs matching the fuel economy of the RX 450hL, which gets 28-29 mpg. With a fuel tank holding 17.2 gallons, the 450hL can travel approximately 500 miles before needing to refuel.
If one overlooks the inadequate third row, the 2020 RX 450hL can be a good choice because it possesses many positive aspects, including handling, quality interior, fuel economy and attractive styling.
Weidel on Wheels is featured regularly on www.tahoeskiworld.com. Auto writer Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.