2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport Review- How to Review a Good Car That You Kind of Hate

Fast Facts

2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6/three electric motors - one starter/generator, one at each axle (308 combined system horsepower @ 6,000 RPM, 247 lb-ft (not including hybrid drive) @ 4,800 RPM)
Electronically-controlled, continuously-variable automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
30 city / 28 highway / 30 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
7.5 city / 8.4 highway / 7.9 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$53,275 (U.S) / $60,250 (Canada)
As Tested
N/A (U.S.) / N/A (Canada)
Prices include $1,075 destination charge in the United States and $2,245 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2022 lexus rx450h awd f sport review how to review a good car that you kind of hate

I want to be perfectly honest with you guys — this is The Truth About Cars, after all — I didn’t like driving the 2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport. It’s not that the Lexus is a bad car, it’s that it’s not the right fit for me … and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

See that metallic running board? It’s a bit of a head-scratcher on the presumably sporty F Sport version of the Lexus, especially considering that this RX seems to ride a bit lower than the “F” versions. That said, my objection to these is far from philosophical: They hurt!

ON THE CONCEPT OF FITNESS

In the before time (read: Pre-COVID), I sold motorcycles. Scratch that. I sold a lot of motorcycles. Mostly Hondas and Kawasakis, but with more than a few Harley-Davidsons, Triumphs, etc. thrown in for good measure.

Part of the pitch, when you’re selling a motorcycle, is explaining to the customer that a motorcycle has to fit you in three ways. It has to fit you physically, it has to fit your lifestyle, and it has to fit your budget.

In terms of physical fit, you should be able to comfortably reach the pedals from the seat and comfortably reach the handlebars without straining your back or sitting in a “weird” position. That kind of thing. Translated into automotive terms, you should be able to get in and out of the car you’re considering without having the running board smack your leg every time you get in and out of the car.

I’m a bit under average height — about 5’7” — but that seems to put me in this weird limbo where I’m tall enough to not need a running board but not quite tall enough to step over it naturally, and I ended up whacking it every time I got in (ankle) or out (calf) of the RX. (It’s worth noting that my wife, a few inches taller and with longer legs, had no such issues.)

I do not fit, then — but this is supposed to be a review, so the show must go on.

ON THE SUBJECT OF STYLE

Moving on to the concept of lifestyle, a motorcycle has to fit not just your lifestyle, but your sense of style, too. It has to have a certain “feel” or “vibe” or whatever you want to call it — a Road Glide isn’t for everyone, and neither is a Gold Wing, even if the same rider may fit both in a similar way. And, while that’s hardly precise language, I’m sure you get the idea.

So, how would the Lexus fit my lifestyle? On paper, I feel like I’d be an ideal customer for the RX. I have a house in the suburbs and 2.5 (ish) kids. I like sporty wagons and SUVs. I like hybrid-y electrified things (that “h” in RX450h AWD F Sport stands for “hybrid,” by the way). I even like the loud, Grecian Water blue paint (it’s not too far removed from the Volvo Rebel Blue).

Despite that, I’m not confident that the Lexus fits my personal sense of style, especially when it comes to the interior … which, again, is nice. There is nothing objectively wrong with the RX450h AWD Sport’s interior (well, almost nothing — I’ll get to that in a minute). The leather is nice, the brushed aluminum works, and the heated/air-conditioned sport seats do the job.

That said, the whole interior feels very “Top Gun” to me. The center console is high, the styling angles everything towards the driver, and the myriad knobs and buttons and even the analog clock give off a “we think fighter jets are cool” sort of vibe that 100 percent did not speak to me…

… but that’s all subjective.

What I think might not be subjective is that “trackpad” in the center console that’s used to navigate the infotainment system.

That trackpad is my least favorite thing about a car, ever. I’d take a dozen whacks of the ankle from a misplaced running board to never have to use this thing again. And, sure, this version of the Lexus does also have a capacitive touch screen, but the screen is a fair reach away from the steering wheel, and the whole system requires significant “eyes off the road time” to navigate.

I found the infotainment system to be shockingly bad, with far too much attention paid to graphics about where the electricity was going and far too little paid to making the thing work like an iPhone or Android or anything else intuitive … but this is not a new feeling.

COINCIDENTALLY

Weirdly enough, I’ve driven a Lexus RX450h before. It was a long time ago, but Facebook reminded me that it was precisely eight years ago to the day

… and I wrote about that one, too, over at Gas2 (which has since been sold and repackaged as “enrg.io”). Re-reading that review for the first time in nearly a decade, I found this:

“For starters, using the center console-mounted mouse thing in the Lexus RX450h requires you to take your eyes off the road and focus on the infotainment screen. That’s because there’s no real haptic difference between the feeling of, say, changing the station, changing the volume, or switching over to the navi screen … which, it should be noted, you can do on the move. At any speed. Lexus is totally cool with someone barreling down the road with one hand on the wheel and both eyes focused on the infotainment screen that’s deep-set into the dash. It’s a terrible, terrible design decision, and single-handedly explains why almost everyone I know rates Lexus RX drivers as the worst on the road.”

Back then, the Lexus had a “mouse” and not a trackpad, but I remember it working pretty much the same way. And, as you could see, I hated it then, too.

It’s funny to look back on that eight-year-old Lexus interior and see things through 2022 eyes. The fact that the 2022 RX450h had significantly more buttons was a bit of a surprise, as it feels like just about every other premium car has followed Tesla into the “big iPad” school of automotive interior design.

I couldn’t get my head around this Lexus. It has aggressive styling both inside and out, but (with “just” 308 horsepower on tap) isn’t particularly fast. There are buttons and knobs and dials everywhere, along with the bonkers, laptop-like interface, and even a CD player … so Lexus was obviously trying. But what are they trying? Who is this car actually for?

That’s when the second big coincidence of this Lexus review came into play: My stepdad bought one. Really.

BOOM

To at least one gray-haired Floridian gentleman in his mid-seventies in particular, the 2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F-Sport seems like it was a perfect fit (he even bought a blue one, albeit the more subdued Nightfall Mica instead of the Grecian Water).

Physically, he appreciates the running boards: “I don’t need them now. But if I do need them, it’ll be nice to have them.”

And, coming from a strong of LS sedans, appreciates that the taller RX gives him, “a better view. People are driving really crazy these days.”

Stylistically, he thinks the heavily-styled F-Sport looks “sharp,” and he said he like that, “it doesn’t look like an old man’s car.”

He’s a long-time Lexus convert, having been a regular customer of Kendall Toyota in Miami since the mid-1990s, so he doesn’t really have any other frame of reference when it comes to the infotainment system, and when I asked him about the trackpad, he said, sincerely, “Well, how else would you do it?”

Now fully (rather than “semi”) retired, the Lexus RX450h AWD F-Sport even fits the guy’s budget (with a base price of $53,275, the RX450h AWD F-Sport easily stickers for something like $30K less than his most recent LS).

So, who is this Lexus really designed for? Apparently, it was designed for my dad — and probably thousands of Lexus customers like him, who will absolutely love it.

The CD player should have clued me in, now that I think about it.

Look, the Lexus RX450h AWD F-Sport isn’t for me. If you’ve read this far, that’s no surprise by now. But it is an objectively competent sub/urban runabout that is more than capable of both getting a young-ish family around Chicago and taking a retired boomer all over South Florida doing God knows what (I assume a P.F. Chang’s is involved, but I can’t prove that).

In the pros column, the RX was smooth, quiet, and solid — I have no doubt that Toyota’s storied long-term reliability has been baked into almost every part of the Lexus. Fuel economy, too, was phenomenal. Around the low-speed streets of my neighborhood, the Lexus rarely left EV mode, except for a few minutes here and there, seemingly to power the AC on the hottest days (I saw 109 on my Volvo’s dash display, it was a thing).

My trip average was closer to 40 mpg than the EPA-rated 31 mpg, without trying too hard to hypermile it (the Energy Monitor graphics are fun, and game-ify the drive, but are definitely a distraction).

In the cons column, there’s really nothing subjective. If the styling speaks to you, you like having buttons and knobs that do the thing you want to push and turn them to do, and you feel like the in-dash timepiece looks more classy than Casio, you should definitely consider snapping up one up … especially before the updated RX with its new, iPad-esque interior shows up in 2023.

What’s New for 2022

The 2022 Lexus RX450h is mildly refreshed.

Who Should Buy It

The author’s stepdad, the stylish suburban soccer parent.

[Images © 2022 Jo Borras/TTAC]

Comments
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  • BSttac BSttac on Jul 12, 2022

    Slow, fat, ugly, and uncompetitive, this is the perfect car for an American and sales numbers support this.

  • 2ACL 2ACL on Jul 13, 2022

    And, coming from a strong of LS sedans, appreciates that the taller RX gives him, “a better view. People are driving really crazy these days.” --- So how is a squishy upscale crossover with rear-quarter DLOs so compromised that the average motorist needs rear blind spot monitoring in order for it to be functionally viable a better answer to this predicament than an LS? Asking for a friend.

  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
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