2021 Lexus RX 450h hybrid offers stylish design, strong safety features Featured

Posted On Sunday, 12 December 2021 17:19 Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
The 2021 Lexus RX 450h is a stylish midsize luxury SUV with excellent safety features. The 2021 Lexus RX 450h is a stylish midsize luxury SUV with excellent safety features. Photo courtesy of Lexus

EVs and hybrids are increasingly becoming the norm, and Lexus has been a leader in that realm in the luxury sector, long having offerings to boost fuel economy and eco-friendliness.

Their RX model debuted its hybrid model way back in 2006, and it’s still going strong — even as new plug-in and electric models start to take off and grow in popularity.

To keep people on board with their 2021 model, Lexus adds more standard features — including safety features such as Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and convenience items such as power folding mirrors.

Upscale but not over-the-top with its plushness, the RX450h walks a fine line in terms of blending a focus on sleek design with a tech-savvy approach that incorporates the latest technology — aiming for a best of all worlds when it comes to looks and utility.

I recently tested a 2021 Lexus RX 450h, and I’m back with a full report. Read on to see how it compares to its lofty competition in the luxury realm.


The 2021 Lexus RX 450h hybrid features a stylish and bold exterior design, particularly the front grille, which is unique in the segment, and its distinct lines and shape. Some more traditional carbuyers won’t like the styling and think it’s too much, but I was a fan, and it’s clear they are aiming at a younger demographic. Whatever your thoughts on the styling, it screams luxury upon first sight, without being overly ostentatious.

Exterior features include Bi-LED headlamps, LED Taillamps, illuminated door handles, and daytime running lights, as well as rain-sensing wipers. One option to enhance the exterior is the Black Line special edition, which features a black grille surround, 20-inch black wheels and blue stitch interior.

The bold approach of Lexus with their SUV design contrasts with more traditional approaches by some of its rivals, a calculated risk but one I like, as you really need to stand out in this segment.

Moving inside, as usual Lexus delivers a true luxury feel in its design, and all materials used on the interior look and feel high-class. There is also an ample amount of headroom and legroom inside the vehicle, which seats 5 adults comfortably.

The vehicle features power NuLuxe-trimmed front seats, power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, reclining/sliding 40/20/40 split rear seat, auto-dimming rear view mirror with HomeLink garage door opener, and more.

Some options include both heated and ventilated front seats, plus a heated F Sport steering wheel.

The F Sport features on my test vehicle (mainly just for appearance and convenience), included: 20-inch wheels, F Sport steering wheel/shift knob/badges/bumpers/grille and seats, LED ambient illumination, aluminum trim, driver seat/outer mirror memory, and a stainless steel rear door garnish.

I was a fan of all these updates except for the F Sport seating, whose tight and curved design felt uncomfortable for me when I was driving.


The 2021 Lexus RX 450h features a 3.5-liter V6 engine with Lexus Hybrid Drive, including three electric motors. Total output is 308 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque, and the transmission is an electronically controlled CVT (with paddle shifters if you prefer to take control of shifting).

All Wheel Drive is standard on the RX 450h, and there is also Drive Mode Select (EV, Eco, Normal and Sport are the available modes).

Is the overall driving experience in the RX 450h a thrill? No. In fact it’s pretty average for the segment, with other luxury hybrid/plug-in hybrid offerings generally topping the 450h in terms of overall performance quality and enjoyment for the driver.

Even in Sport mode, there's little to be excited about in terms of the drive quality. Handling, power, braking, acceleration and raw speed are adequate, but not extraordinary.

But in a way, that’s not a surprise, considering the alternatives are often much more pricey than the RX 450h. The competition drives better, but is also more expensive. Decide what’s more important to you and proceed accordingly. Is it worth the extra cost to you to get that improved driving experience?

On the plus side, RX 450h is a very quiet ride, and well-insulated so you get very limited noise intrusion from the roadways.


As per usual, technology is a bit of a mixed bag in the RX450h.

It centers around a Lexus Multimedia system that has an 8-inch touchscreen and a remote touchpad, as well as 6 USB ports. There’s also a 4.2-inch color multi-information display, and the system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa.

SiriusXM satellite radio is included (a 3-month free trial before you must subscribe), and options include a wireless phone charger, larger 12.3-inch screen including a navigation system, and a Mark Levinson 15-speaker premium audio system.

Voice commands work very well on the 450h, for music, navigation and phone calls, with the vehicle understanding all my commands on the first attempt.

It’s good to see there is a working touchscreen now, but the mousepad control should be removed completely. I never wanted to use it due to its sensitivity and level of difficulty vs. the competition, which tend to use dials or other easier-to-manage controls in the center console.

Regarding safety, there’s no surprise that Lexus delivers in spades, as it has for many years. 

Key safety features include a tire pressure monitoring system, 10 airbags, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Technology.

The Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is another highlight, delivering a bevy of features including: Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic radar Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist. All these features worked well without being too intrusive or overbearing/obnoxious like some systems can be.

Safety options include a color Head-Up Display, touch-free power rear door with kick sensor, and Intuitive Parking Assist with Panoramic View.

Additional safety features include Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. And as expected, its 5-star ratings nearly all-around in government crash testing provide peace of mind for families focused on safety.


The official fuel mileage numbers on the 2021 Lexus RX 450h are 31 city/28 highway/30 combined. My real-world fuel economy numbers were more lackluster, though, only reaching the mid-20s. This was disappointing to see, and may lead some potential buyers toward rival hybrid (and plug-in hybrid) SUV options.


My test vehicle was on the higher end of the pricing scale for the 2021 Lexus 450h, and priced just over $59,000. The price starts around $51K for the F Sport version, and $48K for the base model. There are three total trim levels offered on the 450h, the base version and two varieties of the F Sport version.

Compared to its primary competition from Volvo, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the segment of midsize luxury hybrid SUVs, the Lexus actually comes out on the lower end pricewise, with some competitors topping the price range of the RX450h by up to $20K or more.

All things being relative, the 2021 Lexus 450h is a relatively affordable luxury hybrid, especially when you factor in Toyota/Lexus’ traditional reliability for extended years.


The RX is one of Lexus’s most popular vehicles, and this hybrid version is yet one more option that fans of the Lexus brand have if they want to opt for something more eco-friendly that is also boldly designed and lives up to Lexus’ stringent safety standards.

It’s not going to provide the most thrilling driving experience in the Lexus lineup, but it remains a strong choice for families looking for a luxury SUV.


AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Lexus RX 450h F Sport
  • Price as tested: $59,380
  • Best feature: Safety features, sharp exterior design    
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury SUV buyers seeking a safe, stylish and eco-friendly ride, who aren’t focused on power
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Search Reviews by Make

AutoTechReviews  is your home for In-depth reviews of the latest cars, trucks, and SUVs; information on all the emerging vehicle technology; and breaking news from the world of NASCAR and other motorsports.