The 2019 Lexus RX is one of the most popular and indeed appealing luxury crossovers, representing a just-right mix of attributes. Its cabin is handsome and meticulously crafted. The driving experience is refined, composed and confidence-inspired. Comfort is high and noise levels are low. Plus, with several variants that include the RX 450h hybrid, the more dynamic F Sport and the lengthened RX L, there’s a little something for every luxury preference.
When you throw in the matter of pricing that undercuts most of its European competition, along with a reliability reputation that dwarfs them as well, you get a luxury car that’s significantly more sensible than most. Of course, relatively limited cargo space, some missing infotainment features and the frustrating Remote Touch interface do make it less of a complete package than is ideal, so doing comparison shopping is still a good idea.
What’s New for 2019?
There are no significant changes to the RX for 2019.
What We Like
Exemplary Lexus build quality; comfort and composed driving experience; efficient hybrid model; standard accident avoidance tech; sterling reliability reputation
What We Don’t
Frustrating Remote Touch tech interface; RX 350L’s laughable third-row seat; less cargo capacity than rival crossovers; no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
The RX 350 has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. Unusually, output lowers to 290 hp and 263 lb-ft with the RX 350L. An 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive (FWD) are standard, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is an option.
Fuel economy estimates are 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving for a FWD RX 350. These figures lower by 1 mpg each for the AWD RX 350, as well as for the FWD RX 350L. It dips 1 mpg further with the AWD RX 350L.
The RX 450h is a hybrid. It uses a different 3.5-liter V6, plus three electric motors for a combined output of 308 hp. Two of those motors are used to motivate the front and rear axles, respectively, creating a different sort of all-wheel drive that accomplishes the goal of improving poor weather traction but isn’t suited to more demanding tasks.
Fuel economy is 31 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined for the RX 450h. These lower to 29 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined with the RX 450h L. While significantly more efficient than the gas-only RX, the hybrid requires premium gasoline, which nearly wipes out any savings you’d see at the pump. As such, choosing the hybrid should be done to reduce your carbon footprint rather than saving money.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Lexus RX can seem like a gobbledygook of letters and numbers, so let’s break this code down. First, 350 equals the gas-only model while 450h is the hybrid. The letter L indicates the lengthened 3-row version that seats either six or seven depending on whether you get a second-row bench or two captain’s chairs. Without the L, the RX seats five people in two rows. FWD and AWD refer to front- and all-wheel drive. The F Sport is a sportier variant of the two-row model.
Standard equipment is largely consistent regardless of the model. The basic RX includes 18-in alloy wheels, a power liftgate, automatic LED headlights, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power front seats, "NuLuxe" simulated leather upholstery, a power-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cargo cover, an 8-in infotainment display controlled by a center console knob, Bluetooth, two USB ports and a 9-speaker audio system with a media player interface, CD player, HD radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Premium package adds a sunroof, automatic wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, driver memory settings and wood trim. The Luxury package includes those items plus 20-in wheels, upgraded leather upholstery, front seat lumbar adjustment, a heated steering wheel and rear door sunshades.
The RX 350 F Sport and RX 450h F Sport add to the base model 20-in wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, enhanced engine sounds, transmission paddles shifters, sportier exterior styling and interior trim, heated and ventilated front sport seats, unique leather upholstery, extra color choices and the Premium package contents. The Luxury package is not available, nor can you apply the F Sport to the L body style.
Available on every version is the Navigation package, which includes the Remote Touch interface (a 12.3-in central display, a joystick like center console controller), integrated navigation and a 12-speaker sound system.
Further option availability can depend on region, specifically in regards to certain options that can be available as either stand-alone items and/or within packages. These include blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning, a hands-free power liftgate, a choice of sunroofs (regular or panoramic), parking sensors, upgraded headlights, a power-folding second-row seat, the heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
The RX comes standard with an impressive amount of safety features beyond the usual stability control and airbags. Forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and emergency communications are all standard, while blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning can be added as an option. These are often optional on rival luxury SUVs.
In government crash tests, the 2019 RX received the best-possible 5-star rating for overall crash protection, including 4-star frontal and 5-star side crash ratings. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the best possible ratings for crash protection and prevention, as well as for its child seat LATCH anchors.
Behind the Wheel
Even in basic trim, the 2019 RX has composed handling and instills greater driver confidence than past RX generations. This is enhanced with the F Sport package thanks to sharper steering and an adaptive suspension that not only reduces body roll but also improves ride quality.
Regardless of variant, though, expect the RX to be a relaxing way to commute or take a road trip. It’s really quite lovely thanks to its comfortable and composed ride, tranquil cabin, smooth transmission and predictable power output. The RX 450h is prone to a bit of droning from its transmission like all Toyota/Lexus hybrids, but its power and fuel economy are hard to fault.
Inside, you’ll find one of the plushest and most meticulous interiors in the segment. From the handsome dash design to the buttery soft leather, the RX looks and feels special. Adding the Navigation package and its 12.3-in infotainment screen adds a dash of high-tech cool, but unfortunately it also adds the Remote Touch controller that’s a constant source of frustration and distraction. Make sure to try it out thoroughly during a test drive.
In terms of space, the RX’s second row is comfortable, spacious and easily capable of securing a rear-facing child seat with room to spare. Cargo space is unremarkable for the segment, however, due to the RX’s significantly raked roofline. Space behind the raised back seat is a relatively paltry 18.4 cu ft. or 56.3 cu ft. with the seat lowered. Opting for the lengthened L is a good idea if you want extra cargo space, as those figures expand to 34.1 cu ft. and 58.5 cu ft., respectively.
The RX L is not a good idea, however, if you’re seeking a 3-row crossover with a third row you can actually use. Anyone taller than five feet is unlikely to fit with any sort of comfort, meaning that even if the kids fit now, they won’t for long. Virtually every competitor is better.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Acura MDX — The RX’s closest competitor in terms of pricing and reliability reputation. It is 3-row only and available as a hybrid.
2019 Acura RDX — Though it technically belongs in a segment below, the RDX is so refined, well-equipped and spacious that it could definitely be compared to the RX. Read about the differences between RDX and MDX.
Used BMW X5 — Stronger performance than the RX, along with better handling and cornering capabilities, plus the cachet of the BMW name. But prices are a lot higher, so a used model might be the way to go.
Since the F Sport improves both handling and ride quality (plus a handful of worthwhile luxury extras), we think it’s actually the way to go — even if you don’t particularly care about getting something with "Sport" in its name. Now, choosing it does eliminate the lengthened L from consideration, but then its paltry amount of third-row space might do that any way.