2024 Lexus RX 450h+ half-steps into future

One of the most important vehicles in the Lexus lineup, the RX, finally plugs in. The 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid arrives on the scene with 37 miles of electric range from the Toyota RAV4 Prime’s powertrain, in a more eye-catching and softer-to-the-touch package. 

As I found in a recent drive of the RX 450h+, this translates to a luxurious crossover SUV with usable electric-only range, comfortable ride, and competitive technology.

But it’s not cheap; it’s not elegant; and Lexus’ tech foibles carry over from the standard RX and other models.

Here are the pros and cons of the 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ after spending a week plugging in and hauling the family around town. 

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

Pro: Lexus RX 450h+ provides all-wheel drive in electric only mode

Unlike the plug-in hybrid Volvo XC60, the Lexus RX 450+’s plug-in hybrid powertrain can be locked to stay in electric-only mode. Volvo’s system will automatically kick in the gas engine when the accelerator is mashed to the floor, but Lexus doesn’t engage the gas engine in EV only mode unless the juice runs out. The system also provides all-wheel-drive confidence in slippery situations. The Toyota RAV4 Prime’s plug-in hybrid powertrain has effectively been fitted to the RX 450h+ with a bunch of extra sound deadening. It features two motor-generators as part of a planetary drive system, plus a separate electric motor on the rear axle. Volvo’s system is rear-wheel drive when in electric-only mode because of the packaging of a single electric motor with the transmission. 

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

Con: Lexus RX 450h+ is expensive

The 2024 Lexus 450h+ costs $71,930 including a mandatory $1,350 destination charge. That’s $18,480 more than the RX Hybrid and $20,630 more than the base RX 350 because the plug-in only comes in the top Luxury trim. It would take longer than me calculating to make that premium up in fuel savings. My tester cost $76,505 and included adaptive LED headlights for $1,565; a Convenience Package costing $1,420 and adding a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist; and the worthwhile Mark Levinson sounds system upgrade for $1,160. That’s more than an electric 2025 Polestar 3 with over 300 miles of range. The value proposition here seems to short circuit in the grand scheme of the automotive marketplace.

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

Pro: Lexus RX 450h+ delivers quiet comfort

Every person that slid into my test RX, whether it was my parents or my kids, all commented on the fit, finish, materials, and comfort inside. My son loved the fact the rear seats were heated and cooled. My dad noted that the rear seatbacks power reclined and that was “nice.” The ride on the Bridgestone Alenza luxury tires was compliant, but more controlled than previous RXs, which could wallow and felt like riding a marshmallow. Like RXs of the past, the 450h+ is whisper-quiet in electric-only mode. When the gas 2.5-liter inline-4 does kick in it’s hushed and in the background.

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

Con: Lexus RX 450h+ lacks elegance

At worst the RX used to be inoffensive and blend into the background. That’s no longer the case. There’s no semblance of a bumper and the gaping grille overtakes the entire height of the front end. It all leads up to what feels like an overbite. My mother, who currently drives a third-generation RX, called it “ugly.” 

Inside the materials from the soft leather to the cloth-covered speaker grilles is nice, but my mother called it “busy” and disliked the swooping suede that leapt from the door panel onto the dashboard on the passenger side. She also asked me why the speaker grilles are covered in cloth. Trying my best to explain that’s how things used to be in Lexus vehicles and it felt luxurious she just shook her head. The rear end design is clean and matches that of the smaller NX.

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

Pro: Lexus RX 450h+ has usable electric range

The RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid has 37 miles of EPA-rated electric driving range. I didn’t see that. During my week with the plug-in RX I observed about 32 miles of electric driving range as the heating system sapped a bit of range with ambient temps in the low 20s early in the morning, reaching the mid-40s during the day. My mother was quick to note this would be enough range for her daily commute and would likely rarely use gas throughout the week. The U.S. Department of Transportation said the average American drives 37 miles a day as of 2021.

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

Con: Lexus RX 450h+ tech and controls are tolerable

Far from class leading, the RX 450+’s infotainment system and controls will be familiar to anyone having been in a recent Lexus. The 14.0-inch touchscreen houses basically all vehicle controls including climate and drive modes. It can’t split-screen to show infotainment and navigation at the same time, so hope you like a whole lot of whatever is being used including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. At least those two projection systems are wireless here. There are knobs on the screen to control the cabin temp, which are nice, but they are glued onto the screen itself. 

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

2024 Lexus RX 450h+

The unmarked touchpads on the steering wheel are straight out of the smaller NX. These touchpad and buttons each have dual functionality, changed by the window pane button, and indicated on the head-up display. The head-up display can’t easily be seen while wearing polarized sunglasses. Good luck. At least the volume buttons on the steering wheel are labeled and don’t change between functions. 

The plug-in hybrid RX 450h+ carries over all the foibles of the model lineup while doubling down on the quiet powertrains Lexus cemented its reputation on. The electric-only range is meaningful, it’s just a shame the package is priced as if Lexus doesn’t really want anyone to buy this thing.

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2024 Lexus RX 450h+

Base price: $71,930, including a $1,350 destination fee

Price as tested: $76,505

Drivetrain: 302-hp plug-in hybrid, AWD

EPA fuel economy: 35 mpg combined, 37 miles electric range

The hits: Smooth, quiet, usable electric range, AWD in EV mode

The misses: Expensive, lacks elegance, tolerable infotainment and controls