2020 Lexus RX 450hL AWD Luxury Three-Row SUV 

Lexus recently loaned us a RX 450hL AWD Luxury for a week long drive test.  Our test vehicle came in their new Nori Green Pearl color with a Noble Brown interior.  Our test vehicle was the top-of-the-line Luxury trim level and loaded with a number of packages including seriously bold 20-inch Superchrome Wheels. 

In just a few words – sharp looking, comfortable cabin, good ride, luxury amenities, latest technology and great fuel economy in a mid-size luxury SUV.

A bit of definition is in order regarding this vehicle for those who struggle a bit with the Lexus model identification system. The RX 450hL is essentially the RX 350 – only equipped with a hybrid power train.  Features and amenities are similar trim for trim RX 350 and RX 450h.  Both are offered as a standard two-row SUV and an extended length three-row (the ‘L’ designation).  RX 350 are both FWD and AWD while the RX 450h models are AWD drive only.

For 2020, the RX line of mid-size SUV’s received a number of styling updates along with more technology, functional features and amenities

Some of those elements include a refreshed signature grille featuring ‘L-Motif’ Gloss Black interlocking blocks, an updated Lexus Multimedia System, added in-car connected applications from Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, available 12.3 centerstack split-screen high resolution media display, enhanced Remote Track Pad system controller and additional USB charging/connectivity ports.

Other elements included revised (stiffer) suspension elements for improved ride dynamics and more safety features including Enhanced Pre-Collision, Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.

2020 Lexus RX 450hL AWD as Tested

The 2020 Lexus RX 450hL comes in two trims – a premium base at MSRP $50,460 and the very nice Luxury, MSRP $56,460. 

Luxury Trim Level

Allready well-appointed and equipped as the RX 450h, the RX 450hL Luxury level trim – makes it even better.

Elements include a Tilt and Slide Moonroof,  Heated and Ventilated Front Seats and Heated Rear Seats, 12-way Power Adjustable front seating, Semi-Aniline Leather interior trim, LED Ambient Interior with Illuminated Door Sills, Manual Rear Door Sunshades, Heated Wood and Leather Steering Wheel, Sapele Laser Cut Woods with Aluminum accents and the 20-inch Superchrome Machine-Finish Alloy Wheels.

Plus Packages

Making it even better yet, Lexus added the following package elements:

  • Adaptive Triple-Beam LED Headlamps, Cornering Lamps, Front LED Turn Signals and Fog Lamps – $1,775
  • 12.3-inch Navigation System integrated with Mark Levinson 15-speaker Audio System – $3,365
  • Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Park Assist, Panoramic View Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Braking – $1,865.
  • Cold Weather Package – Windshield Wiper Deicer and Auto-Leveling Headlamps with Washer $100.
  • Color Head Up Display – $600
  • Touch-Free Power Rear Hatch with Kick Sensor – $150

With delivery of $1,025, our 2020 Lexus RX 450hL arrived in the garage for $65,340.

Powertrain

The RX 450hL is powered by the Lexus Hybrid Drive System that pairs the 3.5L V6 gasoline engine with a high torque electric drive motor generator for the front axle – delivering front-wheel drive full time. A second electric drive motor at the rear axle provides independent additional drive performance as necessary for acceleration and traction control.

The 3.5L V6 produces 259 horsepower and 247 lb.-ft. of torque. The front-wheel driver motor delivers 167 horsepower with the rear drive motor producing 67 horsepower. Combined – the Drive System delivers 308 horsepower.

Fuel economy for the RX 450hL is rated at 29/28 mpg City/Highway and 29 mpg combined. 

Exterior

The RX 450h has revised front and rear fascia’s, a refreshed signature grille with interlocking ‘L-Motif’ blocks in gloss Black, slimmer LED headlamps and LED tail lamps with “L-Motif’ across the top and inverted across the bottom.

Other features of note include LED Daytime Running Lights and Door Handle Courtesy Lights, Aluminum Roof Rails, Power Folding Heated Side Mirrors and Rain Sensing Wipers.

Technology and Driver Assist

Of note is the enhanced Lexus Multimedia System and the Lexus Enform App Suite 2.0 w/Amazon Alexa integration, Wi-Fi and the Lexus Enform Remote Connectivity compatible with Smartphone, Smartwatch or other Google enabled devices.  

Interior

The cabin of our RX 450hL – seriously premium looking in Noble Brown – ‘popped’ with its Gray Sapele Wood and Aluminum trim.  All materials are luxurious to both the eye and touch with stylish integration of textures – set off by the wood and metal accents.

The LX 450hL seats six (2/2/2) with bucket seats front row, two Captain’s Chairs for the second row and a power folding row three.  Seating row one and two is very comfortable with plenty of head, leg, shoulder and hip room.  The third row is ‘small persons’ only space with less than 35-inches head and under 23-inches legroom. 

As noted, the extra four-inches of length in the ‘L’ – when adding, even a minimal, third row – leaves a pretty meager 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space.  Frankly, not needing a third row, we would keep the third-row folded flat for the additional cargo capacity.

Technology and Infotainment

Of particular note is the Multimedia system touchscreen now 5.5-inches closer to the driver with controls for both audio and climate controls readily accessible.

Key features on our test vehicle were the 12.3-inch high resolution, split screen multimedia display with Dynamic Voice Command and an enhanced trackpad controller. 

Other key elements include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with connectivity to all of their respective apps and features, SiriusXM, Bluetooth and more.

A note about the trackpad.  You either like it or you don’t.  For 2020, it is easier to use overall.  Still, it is more distracting than we would like – requiring hand/eye coordination between screen and pad while driving.  Too much time with eyes off the road for us.

Driver Assist and Safety

Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is standard. Including Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, it features Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Intelligent High Beam Headlights.

New features include bicyclist and low-light pedestrian detection, Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.

Cost / Savings Comparison RX 450hL AWD vs RX 350L AWD

Someone asked us why buy the hybrid at a price premium if the gasoline version is the same vehicle.  Is the fuel efficiency savings enough to justify? 

At the risk of being called ‘judgmental’, it is our view that buyers spending upwards of $60,000 for an SUV are not cost sensitive when it comes to fuel economy. For most folks, we think it will be a matter of ‘taste’ coupled with the quieter – even smoother operation of the hybrid powertrain. 

Mildly surprisingly, the upcharge from Luxury trim RX 350L AWD gasoline to RX 450hL AWD hybrid is just $1,760 ($54,700 / $56,460).  The rated fuel economy difference gasoline to hybrid is 8 mpg (21 mpg / 29 mpg).

Assuming 15,000 miles per year, fuel use would be 198 gallons less on the hybrid RX 450hL.  Both vehicles both use 95 octane fuel.  At $2.60/gallon – a RX 450hL will cost the owner $515 less to operate annually than the RX 350L.

For us, the small increased cost with the small fuel savings favors the RX 450hL AWD hybrid.

RX 450hL AWD Trims and Pricing

The three-row Lexus RX 450hL AWD is also available as a two-row – RX 450h AWD – with MSRP $46,750. F Sport and F Sport trim levels are also available on the RX 450h.

As noted, RX 450hL comes in two trims – a base at MSRP $50,460 and the Luxury (our test vehicle) with MSRP $56,460.

For more information on all of the Lexus RX 450h trim levels, go to  https://www.lexus.com/models/RX-hybrid.

KEY DATA (2020 Lexus RX 450hL AWD LUX)

  • Model:                         RX450hL AWD
  • Trim:                            Luxury  
  • Class:                          SUV       
  • Segment:                    Mid-Size              
  • Seating:                       6 (in three rows)             
  • MSRP:                         $56,460                             
  • As Tested:                   $65,340                             
  • Powertrain                 Lexus Hybrid Power System
  •                                    (3.5L Gas V6 + 2 Motor Generators)                                                              
  • Horsepower:             308 Combined                  
  • Transmission:            ECVT (Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable)    
  • Drive System:            Electric Front Wheel Drive / All-Wheel Drive        
  • (Independent Electric Drive Motor Generator rear axle)
  • Wheel size                  20-inch  (18-inch are standard)
  • Tow Capacity             3,500 pounds    
  • Fuel Economy            29/28 mpg City/Highway   29 mpg Combined      
  • Range:                        482 miles