2016 Lexus RX Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Lexus RX Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.1

The redesigned 2016 Lexus RX 450h has enough power for most driving situations and provides a comfortable, smooth ride, according to critics. They note that some rivals are more athletic, and some complain that the transition between electric and gasoline power is noisy. The 450h is among the class leaders in fuel economy.

  • "Smooth, solid and quiet. If it isn't exactly fast, the 2016 RX is lively enough to occasionally encourage its driver to push." -- AutoWeek
  • "If you want an RX with the highest fuel economy, the 450h delivers it without sacrificing power, acceleration or cargo space." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Driving dynamics of this crossover have improved a bit in all models, but it still offers that cushy smooth ride with little roll and bounce its customers favor. For drivers who want a sportier driving experience and better handling, the F Sport model is there for the taking." -- Forbes
  • "As with the previous RX 450h, our test-drive of the 2016 model revealed it to be one of the better hybrid applications on the market." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid comes standard with a continuously variable transmission, which is operated like an automatic, and a 3.5-liter V6 engine that combines with two (in FWD models) or three (in AWD models) electric motors to produce 308 horsepower. Lexus estimates that the RX 450h earns 30/28 mpg city/highway in all-wheel drive models and 31/30 mpg in front-wheel drive models, both of which are among the best ratings in the class.

Test drivers say that the RX 450h is quicker than expected and has decent acceleration. Some critics think that the transition between electric and gasoline power is harmonious, but others say that it is abrupt and noisy.

  • "The gas-electric RX 450h hybrid uses the same Atkinson-cycle V-6 and dual electric motors as before. It's a smooth setup that Toyota has perfected over the years, and fuel economy remains right around 30 mpg, which is impressive considering the hybrid model's hefty curb weight of 4,600-4,700 pounds -- about 350 pounds more than the RX 350. The hybrid's instantaneous torque makes it feel a bit quicker than the standard V-6, meaning the newly available F Sport hybrid is less of a contradiction than you might think." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The transitions among electric, gasoline and combined driving modes are as smooth and seamless as you'll find." -- Edmunds
  • "While many people still equate 'hybrid' with 'slow,' the Lexus RX 450h is actually just as quick as its gasoline-only sibling. You'll get up to speed on that freeway on-ramp just fine. The rest of the RX hybrid's manners are equally impressive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Perhaps it's the supremely quiet cabin in the RX 450h, but we can't remember another Lexus hybrid with such a noticeable gasoline/electric transition. The way the gasoline engine kicks isn't a deal-breaker, but the abruptness stands out against an otherwise smooth experience." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The 2016 RX 450h comes with standard all-wheel drive, and front-wheel drive is available. Test drivers report that the vehicle feels heavy at times, particularly going around turns. They add that the steering feels imprecise. Some critics say that the brake pedal could offer more feel. They also note that the available F Sport trim aims to provide a more athletic feel, but its performance is not noticeably different than the base model’s.

  • "The only real disappointment is the artificial, vague feel of the brake pedal; even after decades of building hybrids, Toyota still struggles to achieve progressive pedal response with regenerative braking." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Saw at the wheel a few times and you can feel the extra weight want to keep going against the direction of the steering. The hybrid understeers more readily, even with AWD. If the in-dash power distribution display can be trusted, the RX 450h seems as willing to electrically power up its back wheels, but it doesn't achieve the same levels of rear torque as the RX 350." -- AutoWeek
  • "Both the RX 350 and RX 450h can be had with an F Sport trim aimed at changing the driving experience to something more appealing to buyers of German luxury cars. The F Sport trim doesn't get any more power; its changes are limited to suspension tuning, a special transmission shift program, increased steering effort and feedback, and some appearance items inside and out. Unfortunately, all this doesn't translate into a more capable vehicle. It's still just as heavy as the base model and features significant understeer and body roll. It may feel sportier, but the F Sport changes haven't improved the RX's actual abilities." -- Cars.com

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