Kelley Blue Book: The 2021 Lexus RX excels in quality, reliability and value

United States
  • Comfortable ride
  • Luxurious interior
  • Strong resale and reliability
  • Numerous standard safety features
  • Hybrid version’s fuel economy
  • Not noticeably sporty
  • Small third-row seat
  • Styling is an acquired taste, if acquired at all
  • Lacking freshest digital instrumentation
What’s new this year?
  • Base RX 350 gains blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Power-folding/self-dimming side mirrors also standard
  • Wireless charging becomes available
  • Lexus Enform Remote is now complimentary for three years
  • The former Performance package for F Sport versions becomes the Handling package
  • F Sport now includes a moonroof and heated steering wheel
  • New Black Line Special Edition debuts with specific cosmetic additions
KBB editors’ overview

The 2021 Lexus RX 350 and hybrid RX 450h remain two of the most desirable luxury midsize SUV/crossovers. Not surprising, since the RX pretty much invented this vehicle class.

The 2021 Lexus RX


The current generation has a sumptuous interior and a choice of powertrains. However, newer and more technically sophisticated rivals such as the BMW BMW, -3.13% X5, Audi Q5, and the electric Tesla TSLA, -2.14% Model X, throw the RX’s need for an update into sharper relief.

Despite missing a few high-tech features like a digital instrument cluster and self-driving technology, the 2021 RX excels in the areas of quality, reliability, and resale. The hybrid trim achieves impressive fuel economy, while the extended-wheelbase L version adds a small but viable third-row seat, increasing capacity to seven.

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The RX is one of the smoother-riding members of the luxury SUV/crossover community. Although the F Sport version is intended to deliver a more athletic drive (it doesn’t add any more power), it’s no match for the muscle and handling found in the BMW X5, Jaguar F-Pace or Porsche POAHY, -2.63% Cayenne.

How much does the 2021 Lexus RX cost?

The front-drive RX 350 starts at $ 45,170. The RX 350 F Sport is $ 51,050, and the RX 450h comes in at $ 47,820.

Official 2021 pricing for the extended-wheelbase versions has the front-drive RX 350L with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $ 48,000, which is then subject to a $ 1,025 destination charge. All-wheel drive is an additional $ 1,400. The 2021 RX 450hL (with all-wheel drive as standard) is priced from $ 51,210.

Adding options will increase the bottom line quite quickly, but the Lexus RX still undercuts European rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, BMW X5, and Volvo VOLVF, -2.69% XC90. The RX is in line with the 3-row Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60, but above the starting price of the Lincoln Nautilus.

Check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new RX. Along with stellar reliability, the Lexus RX holds its value extremely well.

Driving the 2021 Lexus RX

Lexus knows that most buyers are looking for a smooth ride and a quiet interior. Which is why the RX continues to be a sales leader. With this primary mission to pamper and coddle, the 2021 Lexus RX 350 isn’t focused on aggressive cornering or breathtaking acceleration. Conversely, it’s not sloppy or slow.

Should the road begin to twist and turn, the RX remains stable and provides the driver with all the feedback necessary to enjoy the ride. Its well-shaped seats are supremely comfortable, permitting hours of fatigue-free driving. And the dash design, while a bit frenetic, is easy to use and understand.

For those who would like more agility in their ride, the RX 350 F Sport can come with adaptive dampers and an upgraded version of the company’s selectable driving modes. This adds a Sport S+ setting to increase steering feedback and sharpen throttle response.

Favorite features

Lexus safety system+ 2.0
This state-of-the-art array is standard on every 2021 Lexus RX. It brings valuable driver aids such as pre-collision warning with pedestrian/bicycle detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping/lane-departure assistance, road sign recognition, automatic high beams, and radar-based all-speed adaptive cruise control.

Adaptive variable suspension
As part of the F Sport’s upgraded Handling package, AVS monitors road conditions and adjusts the shock absorbers’ responses automatically for optimum performance. The system acts in mere milliseconds and gives the F Sport a real advantage over the standard RX’s cornering and steering abilities.

2021 Lexus RX interior

The cabin of the 2021 RX is full of upscale materials with superb fit and finish. The analog clock is an especially elegant touch. The overall design is distinct, but not as sophisticated or flowing as that of an Audi or a BMW.

All versions have a large infotainment screen operated by a console-mounted mouse-like controller that hasn’t been particularly well received. A 12.3-inch split-screen multimedia screen is part of an optional navigation package.

The seats are plush, and there is plenty of headroom and legroom in back. Cargo space is impressive, with over 18 cubic feet behind the rear seats and over 56 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

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The RX 350L offers seating for seven with a 3-seater bench in the second row. Captain’s chairs for the second row are optional in the RX 350 and standard in the RX 450hL, but they reduce the occupant count to six. The RX 350L’s power-folding 3rd-row bench is tight and best suited for small kids.

2021 Lexus RX exterior

It’s the grille, isn’t it? The elephant in the room of aesthetic sensibilities. Let’s be kind and call it bold. No one could describe the 2021 Lexus RX as classically beautiful, but it is distinctive. And the number of RX buyers tells us that many people like it. Or just don’t care that much.

The blacked-out rear pillars make the roof look like it’s floating, and the 20-inch alloy wheels of the F Sport variants ramp up the presence. The RX L models are only 4.3 inches longer than the standard 2-row RX, so it’s not easy to identify them quickly.

2021 Lexus RX standard features

The 2021 Lexus RX has plenty of standard equipment, including LED headlights, powered tailgate, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 10 air bags, power-adjustable steering wheel, simulated leather interior, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, garage door opener, 18-inch alloy wheels, plus the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 which includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, and lane departure alert.

The standard infotainment system includes an 8-inch screen, 9-speaker audio with USB, Bluetooth, auxiliary input, Apple AAPL, -0.77% CarPlay/Android Auto integration, Amazon AMZN, -2.81% Alexa compatibility, and Siri Eyes Free for iPhones.

Lexus Enform Safety Connect, complimentary for 10 years, includes an SOS button, roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, and stolen vehicle notification. Lexus Enform Remote (complimentary for three years) lets the RX owner lock or unlock the doors remotely, start the engine, adjust climate controls and even check the fuel level with a smart device or an Amazon Alexa-enabled device at home.

2021 Lexus RX options

All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional in the new RX 350 and standard in the RX 450h hybrid. This formula applies to the F Sport variants as well.

Extra equipment for a new RX includes leather upholstery, moonroof, heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, hands-free tailgate operation, navigation, 12.3-inch touchscreen, rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual screens, wireless charging, a head-up display, 360-degree camera system, and a fantastic-sounding 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

F Sport versions are eligible for the Handling package that adds the Sport S+ driving mode, adaptive variable suspension, plus model-specific front and rear fascias.

There’s also a towing-prep package with a heavy-duty radiator and oil coolers for the engine and transmission. A hitch receiver is available as an accessory, along with running boards and roof rack crossbars.

2021 Lexus RX engine

The RX 350 has a 3.5-liter V6 engine developing 295 horsepower. This engine runs on regular gasoline and, in standard form, drives the front wheels (FWD) through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Paddle shifters are mounted under the steering wheel. The extended-wheelbase RX 350L has the same configuration, but with five fewer horses due to its single exhaust pipe.

The hybrid 2021 RX 450h and RX 450hL have a less powerful version of the 3.5-liter V6. It’s paired with a battery-electric powertrain for a total system output of 308 horsepower. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard.

There were no official fuel consumption estimates from the EPA while compiling this review, but we don’t expect the 2021 RX to differ much (if at all) from its 2020 iteration.

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Last year, the 2-row version achieved 31 mpg in the city and the EPA-estimated driving range of 516 miles compared favorably to the 422 miles of the RX 350 with all-wheel drive. Premium gasoline is recommended.

Towing capacities of both the standard RX and the RX hybrid is 3,500 pounds.

3.5-liter V6 (RX 350, RX 350 F Sport)
295 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD), 19/26 mpg (AWD)

3.5-liter V6 (RX 350L, RX 350L F Sport)
290 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (FWD), 18/25 mpg (AWD)

3.5-liter V6 + 123-kW electric motor (RX 450h)
259 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (gasoline engine only)
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm (gasoline engine only)
Total system horsepower: 308
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/28 mpg (AWD)

3.5-liter V6 + 123-kW electric motor (RX 450hL)
259 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (gasoline engine only)
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm (gasoline engine only)
Total system horsepower: 308
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/28 mpg (AWD)

Which 2021 Lexus RX model is right for me?

2021 Lexus RX 350

Simulated leather upholstery
10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
Powered tailgate
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration
Power-adjustable steering column
Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

2021 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

20-inch alloy wheels
F Sport styling enhancements
Blackout mesh grille
Sport suspension
F Sport front seats

2021 Lexus RX 350L

Power-folding 3rd-row seat
Rear seat climate controls
8-inch infotainment touchscreen
9-speaker audio

2021 Lexus RX 450h

Hybrid powertrain
All-wheel drive
Vehicle Dynamic Integration Management
EV drive mode
Concealed exhaust

2021 Lexus RX 450h F Sport

20-inch alloy wheels
F Sport styling enhancements
Blackout mesh grille
Sport suspension

2021 Lexus RX 450hL

Power-folding 3rd-row seat
Rear seat climate controls
Second-row captain’s chairs

2021 Lexus RX safety technology

Pre-collision system with low-light pedestrian and daytime bicycle detection: As part of the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, the pre-collision system can not only detect and react to a preceding vehicle, it also can perceive bicycles in daylight. PCS can also detect pedestrians in low-light situations, like dusk or dawn.

All-speed dynamic radar cruise control: This system allows the RX to maintain a safe distance behind the traffic ahead, varying speed and even stopping the vehicle, then resuming forward motion when conditions allow.

Intuitive park assist and panoramic view monitor: Intuitive Park Assist employs sonar sensors to warn the driver if the RX is getting too close to another car or something like a wall or a tree. The 360-degree monitor is especially helpful at spotting objects outside the range of the side and rearview mirrors. These items are part of an options package.

People also ask

Does the 2021 Lexus RX have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay?

Yes. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability allows users to integrate their smartphones into the RX’s infotainment system. Amazon Alexa compatibility is also included.

Are Lexus vehicles expensive to maintain?

Not much more than a Toyota TM, -2.29%. According to the RepairPal website, Lexus owners spent, on average, $ 551 on maintenance costs in 2019. Toyota owners spent $ 441. This makes Lexus one of the least expensive luxury marques to own. Only Acura did better ($ 501). And it will be interesting to see how Genesis performs in this respect.

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Is the 2021 Lexus RX more expensive than similar SUVs from Audi and BMW?
Base prices for the Audi Q5 and RX 350 are pretty close, although the Q5’s standard engine is a turbocharged 4-cylinder as opposed to a V6. The BMW X5 costs a good deal more than the RX, but has more standard equipment. Prices for both German contenders rise quickly as options are added.

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