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2024 Lexus RX 350h Hybrid Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
December 15, 2023
2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Ever since Lexus created the first luxury hybrid in 2006, many customers have been waiting for major fuel savings to materialize. You see, the 2006 Lexus RX 400h was a performance-focused hybrid — quicker than its gas-only counterpart, but only slightly more fuel-efficient and significantly more expensive. Lexus continued this trend in two subsequent redesigns, much to the chagrin of anyone who thought that saving money was the main point of a hybrid. 

These days, electric vehicles are all the rage for fuel-savers, and Lexus recently introduced an electric SUV called the RZ. But it also delivered the RX hybrid that many people have been waiting for since 2006: the Lexus RX 350h. Part of the RX lineup that was fully redesigned last year, the RX 350h settles for just-OK acceleration to achieve an incredible 36 mpg in EPA testing at a more reasonable price. For this review, we spent a week testing the new RX 350h to learn more about its pros and cons. Keep reading to find out whether it’s the right luxury SUV for you. 

No Extra Cost

The cheapest 2024 Lexus RX is the gasoline-only RX 350, which costs $48,600 with front-wheel drive and $50,200 with all-wheel drive. The RX 350h hybrid, sold only with all-wheel drive, starts at virtually the same price: $50,450. The RX 350 has some extra zip — its turbocharged four-cylinder makes 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, while the RX 350h makes a more modest 246 hp and 233 lb-ft of torque between its gas engine and two electric motors. But if you aren’t buying an RX to go fast, the hybrid becomes the natural choice. 

There’s also a spiritual successor to the old RX 450h, called the RX 500h. This turbocharged hybrid has an output of 366 hp and 406 lb-ft. Lexus rounds out the lineup with the RX 450h+, a plug-in hybrid with an estimated 37 miles of fully electric range before it needs its gas engine. But these models cost quite a bit extra, both due to their extra power and some extra standard features. The RX 500h starts at $62,450, and the RX 450h+ starts at $70,080. The RX 350h is the value winner of the RX lineup. 

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Finally Fantastic Mileage

At the heart of the 2024 Lexus RX 350h is the same technology that Toyota has been employing since the 2000 Prius. A 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine works with two electric motors, which assist with acceleration so the engine can work less hard and use less gas. These motors can also fully power the RX (with the engine switched off) when it’s coasting, cruising at a steady speed, or even accelerating gently.  

The result is an EPA-estimated 37 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 36 mpg combined. We averaged 37 mpg during our weeklong test. These figures trounce the old RX 450h’s 31 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined, or the 29 mpg we averaged in our RX 450h test car. And they’re even farther removed from the 28 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined that the RX hybrid managed in 2006. Meanwhile, the gas-only 2024 RX 350 manages 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined, and the performance-focused RX 500h hybrid hits 27 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. Just note that the hybrid’s fuel savings diminish the more time you spend cruising on the highway rather than slogging through stop-and-go traffic. 

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Easy Driving Manners

The RX 350h is a relaxing SUV to drive. It’s not a tautly tuned performance machine, but many drivers will prefer Lexus’s choice to prioritize a smooth and quiet ride. And it’s still decently agile, even if it doesn’t inspire you to go faster around a curve. Some premium SUVs feel more solid and composed, while the Lexus feels lighter and less substantial than the best Audi or BMW. But it’s comfortable without being queasy in corners. 

The biggest change is under the hood. Until last year, the RX hybrid used a silky V6 engine for its gas engine. Now, the RX 350h uses a four-cylinder that’s noisier and less powerful. It’s hardly slow, with a respectable 0-60 time of 7.4 seconds. But the engine produces more of a humming drone than an inspiring growl, and it makes a fair bit of noise under full throttle. Fortunately, we don’t expect most people would buy the RX 350h to win races anyway. Also, the rest of the RX line also uses four-cylinders these days, so you’re not giving up much aural quality by picking an RX 350h over a less-economical RX. 

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Gentler Styling, Too

When Lexus last redesigned the RX, back in 2016, it transformed a mild-mannered luxury crossover into a wild, aggressive new shape. The most recent RX isn’t such a radical departure from its predecessor. If anything, it edges back toward its calmer past. 

Still, this isn’t a box on wheels. The current RX’s grille continues to drop all the way to the bottom of the front end like its predecessor, but it no longer goes all the way to the hood. This means the grille is smaller and focuses your attention lower to the ground, which helps convey an overall impression of a ground-hugging sporty SUV. However, one of the old RX’s key design elements is carried over: a windowline that dips down to a sliver before meeting the rear windshield. And it continues to lean forward like an “SUV coupe.” The main visual difference between the RX 350h and other RX models is that you can’t get the RX 350h in the performance-themed F Sport trim level. 

2024 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2024 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Richly Finished Interior

The center of the RX 350h’s dashboard is a big new 9.8-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s included as standard equipment or the even bigger 14-inch touchscreen that’s available as an option. Unlike the old RX, these screens are built into the instrument panel rather than perched on top. This gives the whole dash a heavily digital feel, and the screens absorb some functions that were once operated by downscale-looking buttons. Other cabin materials have improved, too. 

However, this dazzle does complicate ergonomics, since you have to use the screen for more functions. And rather than split the jumbo screens into multiple simultaneous views — a section of GPS map next to a section of radio, for example — it just stretches each single view across a big area. We also found the steering wheel controls and the new electronic door locks to be needlessly complicated, and we wish Lexus would use more soothing tones for its warning chimes. But overall, the latest RX packs a visual punch and is easier to use than some luxury SUVs. 

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Comfortable Seating for Five

The 2024 Lexus RX 350h is comfortable five-seat mid-size SUV. The backseat is roomy enough for adults, thickly cushioned, and mounted high enough off the floor to provide leg support for even tall passengers. And the front seats are comfortable while you’re driving and easy to slide in and out of. Because there’s no RX 350h F Sport, this hybrid doesn’t provide a choice of seats like other RX models. The F Sport has more aggressively bolstered sports seats that some folks will love for their extra support, but others will find too confining and disruptive. (We’re fans of the F Sport seats, but we know many prospective buyers are not.) 

Note that there’s no longer a seven-seat RX. Lexus has shifted that role to a bigger new model called the TX, which lacks an equivalent to the RX 350h. To get a TX hybrid, you’d need to spend big bucks for the TX 500h performance model or the TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid. Alternatively, you can find a similar powertrain to the RX 350h+’s in three three-row Toyotas: the Highlander and Grand Highlander crossover SUVs and the Sienna minivan. 

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Decent Cargo Hold

The RX 350h has a quoted 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seat. That’s not huge for a mid-size SUV; a compact Toyota RAV4 has more room. But many luxury SUVs have less cargo space, sacrificing some room for flashier style. The RX’s capacity is about the same as the BMW X5 hybrid and more than a Volvo XC60 hybrid. Lexus quotes a tiny 46.9 cubic feet with the rear seat folded, but we’re confident that’s a quirk of how the company chose to measure its capacity. The RX has a lot more real-world space than the subcompact SUVs and economy hatchbacks that typically post such a small number. 

The RX’s cargo capacity is also greatly improved over the previous-generation RX, which held a minuscule 18 cubic feet behind its second row in standard form and only 22 cubic feet even in its extended-length RX L variant. Credit a lower floor and better-shaped roof for the improved space, which Lexus achieved without compromising the RX’s dramatic forward-leaning shape. 

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Economical Alternatives

Lexus makes the only luxury-branded hybrid SUVs that don’t need a plug for the maximum efficiency, and the RX 350h sits right between the smaller NX 350h and the larger TX 500h. The RX has more passenger and cargo room than the less expensive NX, and it costs much less and gets far better mileage than the TX. Value-conscious shoppers could also consider the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid and its mechanical cousin, the Kia Sorento Hybrid. They don’t make the same statement as a luxury-badged Lexus, and they come up a bit short of the RX 350h’s gas mileage. But these two mid-size crossovers have peppy engines, pleasant driving manners, and lots of features. 

Fellow luxury-branded hybrids would only make sense if you have access to a plug at home for overnight charging. If you do, one of our favorites is the Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge. It’s not as roomy as the RX 350h (it’s considered a compact SUV), but it’s not too cramped and it’s beautifully finished. Plus, it goes an EPA-estimated 35 miles using only electricity and 28 mpg afterward; we saw more than 40 miles per charge and 32 mpg afterward. Prices start at $57,900. Most larger luxury PHEVs, like the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, or Volvo XC90, cost $70,000 or more — like the plug-in RX 450h+.  

Lastly, many luxury SUVs have gone fully electric. There’s a lot of reason for this. In addition to their efficiency — if you charge at home, expect to spend less than half what you’d spend on the RX 350h’s gasoline — electric vehicles are also nearly silent. And their heavy batteries give them a solid feel and a lower center of gravity. If you can plug in at home and are comfortable with the idea of recharging every couple hundred miles, we’d recommend you check out models like the Audi Q4 e-tron, Genesis GV60, Tesla Model Y, and Lexus RZ 450e. 

2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2022 Volvo XC60 Recharge ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Simple Fuel-Saving Luxury

Even as recent generations have introduced sporty styling, the Lexus RX has long been about quiet comfort and reliability. The RX 350h is the perfect fit. It lets you use much less gasoline with no complications and few sacrifices — a couple of hundred dollars upfront and the loss of a few horsepower. You don’t need access to a plug like an electric car or a PHEV, and the RX 350h goes an EPA-estimated 619 miles per tank of gasoline. You treat it like a normal car, and as you drive to work in stop-and-go traffic, it cuts your fuel costs virtually in half.

We understand if you’d wish for a quieter engine. And like in all RX models, more cargo room and simpler controls would be welcome. But the RX 350h is our overall pick of the RX lineup, and it’s the one that stands most apart from the competition. If you’re interested in a five-seat luxury SUV and you don’t crave maximum performance or aren’t ready to try an EV lifestyle, the RX 350h belongs on your shopping list.

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・  Photo by Brady Holt

2023 Lexus RX 350h ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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