2019 Lexus RX Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
October 9, 2018

The 2019 Lexus RX remains the luxury crossover SUV sales standard for its design, comfort, and features.

When it comes to the midsize luxury crossover SUV sales charts, it’s the 2019 Lexus RX and everyone else. What began as a smooth, reliable foil to the German competitive set has become edgier in recent years, at least as far as its design is concerned, and Lexus has decided to stay on track after adding an RX with a third row seat last year. The 2019 Lexus RX remains the sales champion, and is more versatile than ever.

The RX is still refreshingly bold and eye-catching, though not as polished as years gone by. We’ve given it 6.8 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Love it or hate it, the giant “spindle” grille is here to stay, as is the RX’s much more angular body styling. The cabin is a touch more reserved, but features interesting curves and lines to break up monotony, as well as a few color choices for more visual intrigue.

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A 295-horsepower V-6 is the standard engine choice, with either front- or all-wheel drive delivered by an 8-speed automatic transmission. The F Sport package adds a bit of character to the exhaust note and pumps the noise into the cabin, something an original RX owner likely would have never expected. The RX 450h hybrid has a lower output V-6 with battery assistance and motors that power the rear wheels for standard all-wheel drive. The RX is more intriguing on a curvy road than before, but still can’t quite hang with more sprightly competition.

The regular RX 350 and 450h seat five comfortably, especially in the front seats, while the rear seats recline slightly for even more comfort. The RX 350L and RX 450hL add a third row seat for family buyers, though that row is best suited for children. Interior trimmings are not as upscale as some competitors, though real wood and metal accents are a nice touch depending on the trim.

All RX models have standard forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and rearview cameras, though the front-wheel drive model receives only four stars from the NHTSA while the all-wheel drive model earns five.

The RX also comes equipped with synthetic leather and power seats as standard, but many have leather, an upgraded infotainment system (unfortunately without Apple CarPlay), and even rear-seat entertainment.

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2019 Lexus RX

Styling

The 2019 Lexus RX polarizes with its angular design, and we’re still not convinced it was the right move.

With the 2019 RX, Lexus has tried to shake off its conservative past. The striking design gives us pause, earning 6 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Gone are the egg-like Lexus RXs of yore, and here to stay is the angular, angry jet-like design with its intricate details. It remains unique, but not necessarily in a good way, as many of the older and more reserved buyers of former models have turned to competitors with subtler styling. Sharp angles, a floating roof effect, and nearly constant design flourishes adorn the exterior from tip to tail.

The cabin is not as brash as the sheetmetal would suggest, but still provides plenty of visual intrigue, especially with a contrasting upholstery color like the red leather available on the F Sport model. A swoopy center console curves towards the driver and puts an optional massive infotainment screen up on pedestal front and center, while metallic and real wood trims on some models remind passengers this is a luxury SUV, not just a rolling modern art sculpture.

Opting for the F Sport trim adds more visual aggression inside and out, with lower body cladding and more aggressive-looking seats available in different colors, making the base RX look positively pedestrian in comparison.

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2019 Lexus RX

Performance

Despite angry looks, the 2019 Lexus RX is no aggressive performer, but is bolstered by its thrifty hybrid model and strong V-6 acceleration.

The 2019 Lexus RX is not the sports car in SUV clothing its design suggests, but it gets the job done. With a supple ride and good acceleration, we rate it at  7 out of 10 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 RX comes in two powertrain flavors, both powered by V-6s but one aided by batteries and electric motors. With front- or all-wheel drive, the RX 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, running an Atkinson combustion cycle that saves on fuel but slightly throttles power. It accelerates strongly with the help of an 8-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters on the F Sport).hough the all-wheel drive version is heavier, it’s quicker off the line thanks to the ability to shift 50 percent of available power to the rear wheels.

The F Sport treatment also adds intrigue by pumping intake noise into the cabin to simulate a throaty exhaust burble, but this is still a quiet, comfortable SUV above all, The point of the effect is largely lost on us.

The RX 450h uses a similar V-6 and some batteries to provide hybrid fuel economy benefits, and two electric motors at the rear wheels give all hybrid RXs all-wheel drive capability. Using a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the RX 450h makes a respectable 259 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque.f you are looking for an electric performance boost, look elsewhere.

Both versions of the RX have a drive-mode selector that can change performance and character, with modes like Normal, Eco, and Sport, while the F Sport model has a custom mode along with Sport and Sport+

While the RX may evoke a sportier, more aggressive attitude with its angular looks, this is still a Lexus SUV.It’s geared for comfort over corner carving. The F Sport has adaptive dampers that stiffen the ride a bit, but even in that configuration it’s more plush than many competitors. Steering is light and turn-in is direct, though strangely, the steering provides more feel (albeit less heft) in Comfort mode than Sport.

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2019 Lexus RX

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Lexus RX is a library-quiet and comfortable SUV, aided by the option for a third row for family-conscious buyers.

Lexus has cultivated a reputation for library-quiet cars and crossovers with subdued materials over the years, and while that version of the 2019 Lexus RX does still exist, there’s more excitement to be found, too. We give the RX 9 out of 10 for its front and rear seat comfort, space, fit and finish. The comical third row on the RX L is enough to dial back a point, but our rating here is based on the standard 2019 RX. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Though it’s often overlooked, the RX sits at a perfect height for easy access: no climbing needed here. Front passengers are treated to massive amounts of space, and the soft seats are great for hours of driving. F Sport seats have larger bolsters, and Luxury models have 10-way power adjustment, ventilation, heat, and extendable thigh cushions.

Rear seat passengers will be similarly comfortable with reclining seat backs and a fold-down armrest, not to mention plenty of legroom. The rear seat of the RX 450h sits an inch higher thanks to the batteries beneath, so keep that in mind if your rear passengers are on the taller side.

With the RX 350L and 450hL, a third row gives this popular luxury crossover SUV some more family functionality, though the rear seats suited for children only. Don’t try stuffing an average height adult back there.

While the base model features synthetic leather, you’ll hardly be able to tell as it’s a convincing imitation of the real thing. Most RX models do get real leather, though, including a lipstick-red hue available on the F Sport that adds more visual flair than we ever thought possible of a Lexus SUV. More luxury-oriented trims use a matte bamboo or gray wood finish as well as metallic accents, and though the design is on the busy side, this is one of our favorite SUV interiors.

Thankfully, that textbook Lexus quiet cabin is as quiet as ever.The RX F Sport model pumps some engine noise into the cabin, even if the effect is largely lost.

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2019 Lexus RX

Safety

The 2019 Lexus RX is aided by strong standard safety technology, but discrepancies in crash test scores are concerning.

Though standard safety tech is a plus, the 2019 Lexus RX still has crash test score discrepancies that are cause for concern. We give it a 8 out of 10 for safety, with a few caveats. It earns points for its standard active safety tech, strong marks from the IIHS, and, with all-wheel drive, a five-star federal rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The IIHS gave the 2018 version of the RX a Top Safety Pick award and its scores are fairly straightforward, but those from the federal government tell a different story.

Front-wheel-drive RX models only get four stars overall, as do the long-wheelbase RX 350L and 450hL in either drivetrain. The all-wheel-drive RX 350 is the only version to achieve five stars overall, though it receives only four stars in frontal crash tests like every other RX.

Thankfully, active safety features like forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking are standard, as well as active lane control, automatic high beams, and even adaptive cruise control. Strangely, while a rearview camera is standard, blind-spot monitors are optional, as well as a surround-view camera system.

Outward visibility is only OK in the RX, thanks to a chunky rear D-pillar that blocks some of the view over your shoulders.

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2019 Lexus RX

Features

The 2019 Lexus RX is well-equipped, and offers plenty of optional features for those who want the finer things.

There’s a reason the Lexus RX has long been the luxury crossover sales king, and much of it has to do with features and value, adding more standard features over the years and even more a-la-carte options. We’ve given it 7 out of 10 for its wide range of options with a special nod to the brand’s excellent service reputation and good warranty. It’s short on some features we think should be standard in 2019, namely Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, however, and we’re not fans of its infotainment controller. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All RX 350 models come with power features, synthetic leather, upholstery 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, power front seats, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, o. Stepping up to the Premium package adds wood trim, roof rails, and real leather, while the Luxury package throws everything in the book at the RX, including heated and ventilated front seats with upgraded leather and 20-inch wheels. The touchscreen can also be upgraded to a massive 12.3-inch unit, and there’s a super wide rear entertainment display system that can run two videos at once side-by-side for indecisive families.

Adding the F Sport package gets you sport suspension, more responsive steering, styling flourishes, unique wheels, and sport seats.

Options include a panoramic roof, Mark Levinson audio, and a head-up display among other a-la-carte features. The standard audio and infotainment system includes nine speakers, Bluetooth with audi streaming, and USB ports, while the Levinson stereo sounds excellent with 835 watts of power and 15 speakers.

We’re not fans of the touchpad infotainment controller, however, as slow reaction times and imprecise operation make navigating the system a pain.

The RX 450h is optioned like a Premium RX 350, and includes options for a panoramic roof, heated and ventilated seats, navigation, and blind spot monitors.

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2019 Lexus RX

Fuel Economy

While the hybrid posts impressive fuel economy, the 2019 Lexus RX 350 is firmly middle-of-the-road.

The 2019 Lexus RX is relatively thrifty in any combination and downright miserly as a hybrid.We give it 4 out of 10 for fuel economy overall, but note that the hybrid RX 450h would be rated at 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Thanks to six different configurations, there’s a range of fuel economies to consider.. The base RX 350 front-wheel drive manages 20 mpg city, 27 highway, and 23 combined, while those numbers drop one each to 19/26/22 mpg for the all-wheel drive version. The lengthened, front-wheel-drive RX 350L gets identical numbers to the all-wheel drive shorter model, while adding all-wheel drive to the longer RX drops figures further to 18/25/21 mpg.

Hybrid RXs naturally fare better even with all-wheel drive as standard, and the regular wheelbase RX 450h is rated at 31/28/30 mpg while the 450hL is rated at 29/28/29 mpg.

There’s an Eco drive mode fitted to every RX that helps cut climate control output and soften throttle response, and the hybrid model is best driven with some restraint for peak results.

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$43,570
MSRP based on RX 350 FWD
 
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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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