2012 Lexus RX Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Lexus RX Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.4

Reviewers say that the 2012 Lexus RX 450h has ample passing power and that the transition from electric to gas power is surprisingly seamless. Plus, the RX has a buttery-smooth ride that coddles passengers.

  • “The engine stop/start is imperceptible, and the brakes have a surprisingly natural feel, unlike the grabby, nonlinear system of previous RX hybrids we've driven, including our long-term-test 2006 RX400h." -- Car and Driver
  • "The compliant suspension and plentiful sound insulation ably isolate passengers from the outside world. The hybrid powertrain is also pretty silent, though at full throttle the V6 does make a surprising amount of noise." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Lexus RX Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine as well as two electric-drive motors. Altogether, the powertrain makes 295 horsepower. Like most other hybrids, the RX has the ability to drive exclusively with either its gasoline engine or its electric motors, though going on electric power alone only works at low speeds for short distances. Test drivers say it has plenty of power and that its continuously variable transmission allows for good acceleration.

As to be expected, fuel economy is the RX Hybrid’s high point. According to the EPA, the RX Hybrid achieves 30/28 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive and 32/28 with front-wheel drive. These figures beat out nearly every other SUV on the market.

  • "RX450h also has impressive thrust and outstanding passing punch. Its CVT transmission is responsive. The well-integrated hybrid/electric powertrain exhibits very little of the surging and bogging typical of hybrid vehicles.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Shoppers looking for a supremely smooth ride should look no further than this Lexus. Test drivers make it clear that the Lexus RX 450h is tuned exclusively for comfort, which means that it’s not very fun to drive. Buyers who want a seriously sporty five-seat SUV should take a closer look at competitors like the Acura MDX and the BMW X5.

  • "Agile handling is not the RX's forte, but both RX 350 and 450h are competent enough on twisty roads. They exhibit moderate cornering lean but secure grip. The Sports Package provides slightly sharper moves. Brakes are strong, with a smooth, progressive pedal feel.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The softly sprung suspension never feels uncontrolled, but it's far from athletic." -- Edmunds
  • "As for handling, even with the Sport suspension package, the RX450h rolls like a tugboat off Cape Hatteras. This is a tall, heavy vehicle, with the suspension dial set on ‘Xanax.' No corner carving here." -- Los Angeles Times

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