2024 Lexus RX450h+ is the Sumptuous Electric Crossover that Travels Near and Far

A well-respected automotive journalist recently went on a rant about plug-in hybrids.  To his point, they’re not efficient.  When running as an EV, they must tote around an unnecessary gas engine.  And, when running in gas mode, it’s lugging heavy batteries.  I’m all in with his logic…until I have to plug in somewhere away from my garage.  While I may like owning a Tesla Model Y, Cadillac Lyriq, or Genesis GV60, it might be easier to own a Lexus RX450h+ plug-in hybrid.

Evolved Lexus Style

Let’s pause for a moment to remember the RX pretty-much invented luxury crossovers in the late ‘90s, and when Lexus joined its corporate parent Toyota in offering hybrids, the RX was one of the first to gain batteries for compact car fuel economy.  Like its powertrain, design has evolved progressively over the generations.

If you parked the original RX next to this one, you’d recognize similar high arching profiles, but a large monochrome spindle grille, 21” wheels, accentuated bodylines, and floating roof add distinction today.  Squinty LED taillamps and thin-line taillamps underlining LEXUS lettering across the power-opened hatch connect the RX to other Lexus crossovers.

Lush interiors are a Lexus hallmark, and the RX450h impresses with sueded swaths on the dash and doors, sueded leather seats, and a wood-and-leather steering wheel.  Light woodgrain trim lends lend an airy atmosphere.  Add to that heated/ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats for carnal luxuries that extend to the panoramic glass moonroof and drenching Mark Levinson audio system.  The RX is a serene place to travel.

It also has all of the latest technology.  A 14” touchscreen intuitively conjures conjure navigation, phone, radio, and media.  Thank Lexus the decrepit joy-mouse has been retired.  Wireless connections through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus wireless console charging add convenience.

Safety starts with a head-up display but also includes adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross path detection with auto brake.  Blind spot warning, lane tracing, and safe exit assist go further.  It’s all great, but I could do without the constant beeping and buzzing as I no longer require a nagging mother and auto brake was a pain when backing past a bush to my home charger.  Wouldn’t have it!

Go-anywhere Hybrid Powertrain

So, what about that powertrain?  Plug it into a 240v “Level 2” charger to get 37 miles electric range, after which the 2.5-liter gasoline engine fires up to form the basis of a normal hybrid.  Total system rates 304 horsepower.  Employing the full range of batteries, motors, and gasoline engine, delivers 83-MPGe.  Off the grid, expect 35-MPG combined.  All-wheel-drive keeps this energy display moving no matter the weather.

I spent an entire week driving the RX450h and didn’t burn a drop of gasoline.  I commuted to work, ran errands, dropped my daughter at school, and carried her to piano lessons.  With chargers at home and work, it was easy to plug and play.  Acceleration is anything but brisk, and the suspension can be a bit firm, but it’s all fine for daily jaunts.  And, had I decided to drive to, say Alaska, I could have done so without looking for another plug.

It makes no sense to use two unique powertrains for one vehicle, but until we have reliable chargers, plug-in hybrids like the RX450h+ are super convenient.  The fact this crossover does it with all the style and luxury expected from a Lexus makes it all the better.  While the RX starts at a reasonable $49,950, our 450h+ comes to a lofty $76,505.  At that price, compare against the Volvo XC90 Recharge, Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e, and BMW X5 xDrive50e.

Storm Forward!

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