The 2016 Lexus RX lineup offers two ways of quite frugal highway driving. Yet the RX 450h hybrid models are far more fuel-efficient in the city.
The RX 350 now has a more efficient V-6 with direct injection plus a variable intake system that enables lean, Atkinson-cycle operation. It’s rated at 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined with front-wheel drive, or 19/26/22 mpg with all-wheel drive. The new 8-speed automatic transmission that’s standard throughout the lineup helps with that, as it offers a wider span of gear ratios than the former 6-speed.
Meanwhile, RX 450h hybrid models achieve 31/30/30 mpg with front-wheel drive or 30/28/30 mpg with all-wheel drive, according to the EPA.
In either model, if you click the Drive Mode Select knob at the center console (Normal or Eco in standard models or Normal, Eco, Customize, Sport S, and Sport S+ in F Sport models) over to Eco, you’ll get a mode that softens throttle response, reduces air conditioning operation, and reduces fan airflow in Auto mode—all things that should help save fuel.
We’ve seen high real-world mileage in hybrid models if you can use a lot of restraint; it’s a system that responds well to smooth inputs and lower speeds (there’s an EV mode for quiet, short-distance electric-only operation, too).
Curiously, gasoline models don’t include engine stop-start, a fuel-saving feature than many rivals to the RX now include.