2015 Lexus RX 450h AWD – Luxurious SUV with Great Fuel Economy

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One of the interesting things about Tundraheadquarters.com is we aren’t afraid to talk about other vehicles and manufactures. While some truck sites just stick to their topic, we venture out at times and bring our readers different topics from time to time. In our view, truck guys are curious people by nature and want to learn more about other products. Case in point, we recently had the opportunity to drive around in a 2015 Lexus RX 450h AWD. While not technically a truck, we can certainly see the appeal of this vehicle.

2015 Lexus RX 450h AWD – Luxurious SUV with Great Fuel Economy

The 2015 Lexus RX 450h has almost an iconic styling to it these days.

Before we get too far, it is worth noting Lexus offers the RX 450h as part of the Lexus RX 350 lineup. This lineup consists of the base model, RX 350 F Sport, 450H and The Crafted Line. The big difference between the “trim” levels comes down to looks, performance and fuel economy. We have driven the Lexus RX 350 on numerous occasions and while the interior now looks dated, it is still one of the best luxury SUVs on the road. In fact, it has been Lexus’ best-selling model for quite some time and with its classic luxury styling, smooth ride and ample power, it is easy to see why.

For this review, our test model was a 2015 Lexus RX 450h all-wheel drive with optional comfort package, navigation and premium package.

Driving Impressions – Smooth and Comfortable

With our experience in the Lexus RX 350 and its 3.5L V6, our main objective was to see if there was any compromise switching to a hybrid setup. If there is a compromise in performance we couldn’t find any.

The lack of compromise is likely due to hybrid’s use of the 3.5L V6 as in the base model. Yep, no smaller engine here like it typical hybrid models.  With a similar engine, the big differences are the battery pack under the hood and a Continuously Variable Transmission. The base model uses a six-speed automatic.

These hybrid modifications to the base model results in slightly more expensive SUV – our test model was $58,315 while our RX 350 test model a few weeks ago rang up at $55,099.

2015 Lexus RX 450h AWD – Luxurious SUV with Great Fuel Economy

Lexus managed to squeeze a 3.5L V6 into the engine bay with a hybrid drive system.

While the price isn’t that different, the fuel economy is much better in the hybrid. The base RX 350 AWD is EPA rated to achieve 18/24/20 MPG city/highway/combined while the hybrid AWD nets 28/30/29 MPG city/highway/combined. Sure, it is the same old argument of return on investment, yet for about $3k you do get nearly 6 MPG better highway and 9 MPG better combined. In our minds, if you are in the $50k buying range, we would go hybrid.

During our time driving it, the Lexus RX 450h lived up to our expectations. It offers a very smooth ride over a variety of terrain with plenty of power when needed. This power is almost better than the base model since the battery pack can provide instantaneous energy transfer.  In fact, the RX 450h AWD goes 0-60 in 7.4 seconds which is .3 seconds faster than the RX 350 F Sport.

Overall, the 2015 Lexus RX 450h doesn’t offer any performance compromise versus the non-hybrid model. In fact, with its better fuel economy and similar performance, it is probably the wiser choice.

Exterior – Classic Luxury Styling

One of the interesting things for the Lexus RX lineup is the radical shift from the sleek, classic luxury styling they have been using for years to their new edgy designs. The entire lineup in fact is going this way with its hourglass shaped grilles.  It is a radical departure away from the BMW-like styling of old.

2015 Lexus RX 450h AWD – Luxurious SUV with Great Fuel Economy

This is the new 2016 Lexus RX 450h. The grille is quite the departure from the older styling. We wonder if buyers will be keen on it.

In our opinion, we really like the styling of the 2015 Lexus RX 450h. It is sleek and is what we think of with a luxury SUV. The front headlights with their LED accents are sharp looking at night and during the day while the rear is no-nonsense void of any strange character lines.

2015 Lexus RX 450h AWD – Luxurious SUV with Great Fuel Economy

It has such a nice finish to the rear design and we will be sad to see the 2015 styling go.

Overall, from front to back, the Lexus RX450h is a well put-together design that has sold Lexus a lot of vehicles.

Interior – Functional, yet Dated Interior

In this day and age, interiors are playing a larger role in car buying habits and this is especially the case in the Luxury SUV market. With increased competition and a slew of new competitors on the market, the 2015 Lexus RX 450h now looks dated. This isn’t to say it is bad, it just feels dated.

In order to explain the interior, I’ll put this in a way that Tundra fans will understand. The 2015 model is like the 2013 Toyota Tundra with its slightly older interior finishes. It is in need of interior upgrades like the 2014 Toyota Tundra. With the recent reveal of the 2016 Lexus RX 350, we can expect the hybrid model to get these upgrades.

2015 Lexus RX 450h AWD – Luxurious SUV with Great Fuel Economy

Nothing is wrong with this interior per se, but after sitting in other, newer Lexus products, it is in need of an update.

Buyers then will be presented with an interesting choice much like many Tundra buyers. Do you go with the older interior layout and save some money or buy the newer older? There is nothing technically wrong the interior since the important details like viewing the dash, reaching for knobs or driver visibility are all really good. It is just a choice between the 2016’s new and improved layout versus the old.

Overall, we thought the interior felt dated. Yet, we are a bit biased considering how many new vehicles we drive each year. There is nothing at all wrong with the 2015 Lexus RX 450h interior and if you are looking to save some money, you should snap up this model before the new one comes out.

No-Compromise Hybrid

In the end, the 2015 Lexus RX 450h is one of the few hybrid models we have driven that we give a thumbs up. There really aren’t any compromises made with performance between the models and the fuel economy is substantially better for only $3k more. Sure it is the same old “Ecodiesel-like” discussion, but in this case, it is a no-brainer.


Model: 2015 Lexus RX 450h

Engine: 3.5L V6 DOHC w/VVT Front Electric Drive Motors w/Lexus Hybrid Drive

Power: 295 HP

Transmission: Electronically Controlled Variable Transmission with Intelligence (ECVT-I)

0 – 60 mph: 7.4 seconds (AWD)

Top speed: 112 MPH


  • Comfort Package
  • 19-inch Aluminum Alloy Wheels with All-Season Tires
  • Xenon High Intensity Discharge Headlamps with LED foglamps
  • Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound
  • Navigation System with Voice Command
  • Intuitive Parking Assist
  • Premium Package w/Blind Spot Monitor System
  • Bamboo Wood Interior Trim & Steering Wheel

Price as tested: $58,315

Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com


RSSComments (5)

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  1. breathing borla says:

    meh, 58K buys way too much pick-up truck to even look at one of these

  2. bobeast says:

    60k for 3500# tow capacity? umm…..no

  3. Randy says:

    Thanks for the review; I learned a lot from this one.

    For just a few dollars more, you get a big improvement in MPGs and it appears to be well worth it and not give anything up in performance.

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