2021 Lexus RX

2021 Lexus RX
2021 Lexus RX Aft View 1
2021 Lexus RX Steering Wheel 1

2021 Lexus RX Test Drive Review: Great Cover, Sub-Par Read

Following on from a much-needed refresh in 2020, the Lexus RX seems to be resting on its laurels as the top-selling midsize SUV in the US. Available as a gas-powered or hybrid vehicle, the crossover relies on a V6 engine for most of its power - expect between 290 horsepower and 308 hp. While that may be enough for a sportier compact, the hefty midsize won't keep up with rivals like the BMW X5 or Acura MDX. It tries to make up for this with an opulently appointed cabin, loads of safety tech, and a third row of seats on the L-monikered models. But with shoddy handling and lackluster acceleration, it may have trouble keeping up with the competition going forward, both literally and figuratively. Still, it has remained eminently popular for a reason, so it definitely deserves a closer look before we prematurely shut the book on it.

Read in this review:

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New 2021 Lexus RX Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 RX?

There have only been minor updates for the new year, but since they fall primarily under the umbrella of safety features, they are well worth mentioning. From the base model up, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are now factory-installed, along with power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors. The previous Performance Package has been rebranded the Handling Package, while the optional Luxury Package now gets a Glazed Caramel interior instead of the previous Noble Brown. This hue has also been added as an option within the Premium Package. The wireless charging pad that comes standard on the upper trim levels is now offered to the base RX 350 and 450h, and, for 2021, a limited number of special edition Black Line models will be made available.

Pros and Cons

  • Gorgeous cabin
  • Smooth ride quality
  • Loads of standard tech
  • Good safety ratings
  • Competitive mpg in hybrid variants
  • Awkward infotainment interface
  • Less than stellar fuel economy
  • Lifeless driving experience
  • Tepid acceleration
  • Cramped available third row

What's the Price of the 2021 Lexus RX?

Hailing from the luxury wing of the Toyota brand, the price of the Lexus RX is set well above the more modest models from the standard collection. The base model RX 350 opens bidding at $45,070, while the 350L ups the ante to $47,900. The F Sport is actually a bit more expensive, despite having fewer standard features, priced at $48,550. The basic FWD can be traded out for AWD on each machine in exchange for an extra $1,400. The hybrid options are naturally more expensive to start with, and they each come equipped with AWD right off the bat. The trims remain the same, though, with the 450h, 450hL, and F Sport variant bearing pricing of $47,720, $51,110, and $51,200, respectively. Special editions include the RX 350 F Sport Black Line at $49,235 and the 450h version at $51,885. These prices are MSRP and do not include tax, registration, licensing, or the $1,025 destination fee.

Best Deals on 2021 Lexus RX

2021 Lexus RX Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
RX 350
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
RX 450h
3.5L V6 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
RX 350L
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
RX 350 F Sport
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
RX 350 F SPORT Black Line
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Lexus RX Trims and Specs

2021 RX Exterior

2021 Lexus RX Front View CarBuzz 2021 Lexus RX Rear View CarBuzz 2021 Lexus RX Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
2021 Lexus RX Front View
2021 Lexus RX Rear View
2021 Lexus RX Frontal Aspect
See All 2021 Lexus RX Exterior Photos


  • Length 192.5 in
  • Wheelbase 109.8 in
  • Height 67.7 in
  • Max Width 74.6 in
  • Front Width 64.4 in
  • Rear Width 64.0 in
  • Curb Weight 4,222.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Ultra White +$425
  • Eminent White Pearl +$425
  • Nebula Gray Pearl
  • Atomic Silver
  • Obsidian
  • Caviar
  • Nightfall Mica
  • Matador Red Mica
  • Celestial GF
  • Nori Green Pearl
  • Moonbeam Beige Metallic

2021 RX Performance

2021 Lexus RX Aft View CarBuzz 2021 Lexus RX Engine CarBuzz 2021 Lexus RX Wheel CarBuzz
2021 Lexus RX Aft View
2021 Lexus RX Engine
2021 Lexus RX Wheel

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    3.5L V6 Gas, 3.5L V6 Hybrid
  • Transmissions
    8-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

If you're looking for a relaxed SUV with good ride comfort, this may be the perfect fit for you. But, if you desire even a little excitement from your car, the RX will only disappoint. While it may be true that luxury SUVs err on the side of compliance, that is no reason for them to be utterly devoid of spirit - rivals like the BMW X5 prove as much. But, Lexus just could not seem to strike a balance between comfort and fun when it came to its midsize offering.

The steering is about as heavy as the high-rider, but since it offers absolutely no feedback, this is more of a downside than an opportunity for some enjoyment. In fact, it actually means that the crossover is less nimble around town than many of its budget competitors, like the Toyota Highlander. And, if you ever try to take a corner at speeds higher than a crawl, you had best know how to handle body roll, because there will be quite a bit.

But, if you are content to drive everywhere at a leisurely cruise, the RX does a good job of smoothing over any road imperfections. The larger wheels and stiffer suspension on the F Sport reduce comfort but add some much-needed control and composure. But don't let that fool you; it is still far from being a sports car. In any trim or configuration, the RX shines in everyday traffic and long freeway rides.

2021 RX Interior

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2021 Lexus RX Dashboard
2021 Lexus RX Steering Wheel
2021 Lexus RX Seat
See All 2021 Lexus RX Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 44.1 in
  • Front Head Room 39.4 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.1 in

2021 RX Trunk and Cargo Space

2021 Lexus RX Second-Row Seats CarBuzz 2021 Lexus RX Rear Seats Folded CarBuzz 2021 Lexus RX Maximum Cargo Space CarBuzz
2021 Lexus RX Second-Row Seats
2021 Lexus RX Rear Seats Folded
2021 Lexus RX Maximum Cargo Space

2021 RX Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    6 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    1 Years \ 10,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2021 Lexus RX A Good SUV?

Looking at public opinion alone, it would be hard to answer in the negative. The RX sells like hotcakes in the USA, so it must be doing something right. So, before we poke holes in the mass delusion, let us at least point out the vehicle's strengths.

The interior is practically flawless in terms of materials, build quality, and comfort, which adds up to a pleasant environment to enjoy your daily commute or for carpooling the kids to school. The numerous safety specs also ensure that doing so is remarkably safe, while the infotainment suite should keep everyone entertained. We'd like to say that it offers even more practicality as a three-row in the L-trim, but that would be a bald-faced lie.

And with that shot fired, let us not hold back any longer. The powertrain lacks any real fire, which goes perfectly in hand with the lifeless steering. There is absolutely no fun to be had with this SUV, even in F Sport guise. And, if you want even slightly reasonable mileage figures, you will have to go the hybrid route.

If you must have a new Lexus, the RX is acceptable if interior comfort and a refined ride quality are your main concerns, so long as you stick to the five-seater configurations. But there really are so many better choices out there, both in terms of fun and affordability. A few options that spring to mind are the Volvo XC90, the Acura MDX, and the Genesis GV80. We definitely suggest taking the GV80 for a test drive before you commit to an RX.

What Lexus RX Model Should I Buy?

Right off the bat, we'd suggest heading straight for one of the hybrid models. At this price point, they are not that much more expensive, and their fuel economy figures are appreciably better than the gasoline-only models. Impressive, in fact, for the size and heft of the RX. That said, you still have three options. The base RX 450h is certainly well-equipped, and you could still option on a few extras while keeping the final bill below $50k. Quite frankly, the F Sport Is just a waste, because the RX will never be a lively SUV and the increase in price does nothing to change that. The extra row of seats on the 450hL may tempt some buyers, but if you have children larger than toddlers, you won't get much use out of it. At the end of the day, the base-model RX hybrid with a few extras, such as climate-controlled front seats, the wireless charger, and perhaps the color head-up display, should more than satisfy most buyers' needs without asking more than the actual value it offers.

Check out other Lexus RX Styles

2021 Lexus RX Comparisons

Lexus NX Lexus
Toyota Highlander Toyota
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Lexus RX275 hp22/29 mpg$47,800
Lexus NX 203 hp26/33 mpg$38,605
Toyota Highlander 265 hp22/29 mpg$39,120

2021 Lexus RX vs Lexus NX

The smaller sibling to the RX, the NX has no delusions of being grander than it is. Bearing a price tag nearly $10k lower than the cost of the Lexus RX, it focuses on being the best compact it can be. As will most of the competition, it is outfitted with a four-pot - developing 235 hp and 258 lb-ft. And while these figures may be lower than those from the RX's V6, the smaller crossover makes the 0-60 mph sprint a lot faster. It is also more maneuverable around town but it suffers from a similarly unengaging driving experience. Inside, it is not quite as spacious, but it still works wonderfully as a five-seater and still beats the standard cargo capacity of the RX. With pretty much all the same tech, albeit with more limited upgrades to the infotainment, the Lexus NX is almost the same value for much less money. It also offers a hybrid option for those that want better fuel economy or a smaller environmental footprint.

See Lexus NX Review

2021 Lexus RX vs Toyota Highlander

Where the RX tries to fake it as a three-row SUV, at least on its top-trim, the Highlander was designed with this purpose in mind. So, while the Lexus can squeeze six people in when absolutely necessary, the Toyota can fit eight with slightly more ease. That is not to say the third row is spacious by any stretch of the imagination. In hybrid form, it more than doubles the 7.5 cubic feet of standard trunk space offered by the RX; fold down the rear-most seats and it blows it away with 48.4 cubic feet. Of course, the Highlander can't quite match the upscale interior of its premium cousin, but it comes so close that only a real nitpicker could complain. When you consider that it has a base price around $10,000 less than the Lexus, it is an impressive feat for how much you are paying. With better mileage figures and comparable safety features, the Hybrid Highlander seems to be the better choice of the two Japanese SUVs, even if it is just as dull to drive.

See Toyota Highlander Review
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