With extravagant vehicles flooding the luxury automotive world, no one does it more durably than Lexus. Under the Toyota umbrella, Lexus has been consistently making some of the world’s most luxurious, reliable, and classy vehicles. As automakers claw their way into going above and beyond, Lexus chooses to take the classically-advanced approach, and the 2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport AWD is exactly that. The RX 450h F Sport continues to improve, but is it the best hybrid 2022 SUV you can get for the price-tag, or is it missing a few beats?
2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport AWD
- All Wheel Drive
- Adaptive Variable Suspension w/Handling Package
- Dual High-Torque Electric Drive Motor Generators
- VVT-i Enhances Low-End Torque
- Extremely Comfortable Cabin
- Smooth, Luxurious Ride
- Great Electronically-Controlled CVT
- Impressive Fuel Consumption for its Class
- Aggressive F Sport Styling
- Interior Becoming Outdated
- Brakes Feel Spongy
- Steering Lacks Raw Feel
- Performance Doesn't Match Aggressive Looks
When it comes to reputation, Lexus will always hold the gold. In 1989, Lexus took the luxury world by surprise when they released their LS400. During an era when BMW and Mercedes-Benz were in full control of the luxury segment, no one expected Japan to produce something so high in quality for its time. It didn’t take long for the LS to outsell BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, and any competitor that tried. Over-built and over-engineered, the German competitors had to buy their very own LS400s to find out how the Japanese automaker can sell such magnificent machine at that low of a price.
Leading up to the LS400 release, Lexus spent $1 billion building 450 prototypes, driving them for over 1.5 million miles, and hiring thousands of top automotive engineers to ensure their launch is a hit. As a result, Lexus put themselves as the top competitor in their segment, and more importantly, they made a statement! Lexus continued to build on its investment and reputation, and in 1998, the RX was born. Now, 24 years later, we sit behind the wheel of the 2022 RX 400h F Sport to see how far Lexus has come.
RX 450h F Sport AWD Powertrain
The RX 450h packs one of Lexus’ most popular engines: the 3.5-liter V6 engine. The six-cylinder engine balances between power and fuel economy using a dual Variable Valve Timing system, allowing it to change its timing based on the driver’s input. The “h” at the end of its title gives this vehicle two electric motors, one in the front and one in the rear. Together, they offer instant torque at all four wheels, a combined 30mpg, and 308 horsepower to enjoy. If you opt for the F Sport with the Handling Package, you will get the much-needed Adaptive Variable Suspension system. This allows the RX’s suspension to adapt to road conditions through 650 levels of damping. The damping switches from soft and comfortable, to stiff and rough when road conditions require the least amount of body lean, and everything in between. The engine works collaboratively with an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters. On paper, the 2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport AWD seems to promise a lot, but how does it do on the road?
A Look At The RX 450h F Sport Exterior
There isn’t much to hate about the RX 450h F Sport looks. Lexus has done a phenomenal job with unifying their styling across their model lineups. The aggressive, overly-large grille gives the RX 450h F Sport a distinct look. The large mesh grille works artistically well with the two vents along its sides. The sharp triple-beam LED headlights complete the aggressive styling touches in the front. The unique Celestial Blue paint color gives this hybrid SUV a trendy look that should appeal to a much wider market. In addition to the grille and front bumper, the F Sport trim also adds F Sport badging and 20-inch Dark Graphite wheels. All in all, the exterior is classy, aggressive, and stylish. The question becomes: does the RX 450h drive as aggressively as it looks?
Advanced Cabin With Classic Cues
There aren’t many vehicles out there with seats as comfortable as Lexus’ models. The RX is no different. The seats are comfortable enough to compete with your living room’s furniture, yet hold you in place when you decide to put it in Sport+ mode and carve up some canyons. In the RX 450h F Sport, the available 12.3-inch screen is not only a pleasure to look at, it’s also well-placed above the dashboard. The placement of the screen allowed Lexus’ designers to keep the iconic analog clock, and place two oversized air conditioner vents in the center. The RX’s infotainment system is Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa compatible. Despite having Apple CarPlay, it is a major let-down that it’s not wireless. If it’s available by BMW, it should be available by Lexus. You can navigate through the large screen using your fingers, and a remote touchpad is also available. While the touchpad makes your car feel like a laptop, it feels like an overkill and takes up too much space. If you’re coming from a small vehicle and feel intimidated by an SUV, the panoramic view monitor will be your best friend. Four cameras around the vehicle provide a 360-degree view around the car. This makes parking in the smallest of spots feel like a breeze. All in all, the interior of the Lexus RX 450h is simple, classy, comfortable, and extremely quiet.
RX 450h AWD: First Drive
Getting behind the wheel of the 2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport AWD is an absolute pleasure. The seats are extremely comfortable with more than enough visibility all around you. In spite of the six-cylinder engine and two electric motors, the RX is a heavy car, making acceleration just above average. While we wouldn’t classify it as slow, eventually you will wish for a bit more performance. However, the RX 450h is not designed for the drag strip. Comfort, however, is where it lives, and this ride delivers with ease. The electric continuously variable transmission offers smooth acceleration, without the laziness often associated with CVTs. This is definitely one of the better continuously variable transmissions out there. The impressive smoothness of the transmission, however, turns boring when you start using the paddle shifters. The use of the paddle shifters makes the SUV feel lazy and slow.
The adaptive suspension offers a spongy, comfortable ride. It’s smooth enough that you don’t feel the road, but stiffens up enough to boost your confidence around quicker turns. Don’t expect a sports car stiffens, however, the RX 450h never completely loses the luxurious, soft feel. The brakes also feel a bit spongy, this time it’s not a compliment. The brake pedal has to travel long and soft before you feel confident enough in its stopping abilities. However, once you drive the hybrid for a few days, you start learning how far you need to press the brakes before you get that blitz of assurance. Our press car had an Electric Power Steering. While losing the pump is much more efficient and allows for additional steering tuning, the electric power steering takes away from the raw driving feel, especially when turning at slow speeds. After driving the RX for a week, we averaged 25 mpg on mixed highway/city driving, most of which are on the more spirited end. All in all, the Lexus RX 450h F Sport AWD is as comfortable as it gets, offers decent performance, and comes with all the bells and whistles you may need. The question arises, who is this hybrid SUV right for?
The Bottom Line: Is The RX 450h The Whole Package Or Missing A Beat?
The 2022 Lexus RX 450h F Sport AWD is not the quickest, least expensive, or most advanced; but it’s definitely as close to the complete package as you can get in its segment. Lexus’ reliability reputation is responsible for this claim. When compared to BMW, Mercedes, or most SUVs in the luxury segment, the durability and longevity of Lexus will give it the edge. If we compare it to Honda or Toyota, the luxurious aspect will give it the edge. In the end, this is a great SUV for the daily-driver looking to feel safe and comfortable, all while doing it in style and without the need for countless stops at the gas station. With a price tag of $51,500 (Hybrid F Sport), however, the RX has a lot of competition. If durability, safety, and comfort are more important to you than having the top performer in your segment, then this is the vehicle for you.