High-end looks and a superbly smooth ride quality help the 2021 Lexus RX live up to the Lexus' once lofty reputation for creating fine luxury rides. But the RX has some limitations that, like other Lexus vehicles, put it a few slots behind in the competition.
The 2021 Lexus RX now comes with standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, which is a good step in the right direction as most competitors are doing the same thing. You can also now get wireless charging on some of the higher trim levels. Just do not expect to see a whole lot of other changes to the RX.
Buyers will likely dig the 350 the most (in its standard two-row format or as the third-row 350L). However, the hybrid 450h is likely to garner attention from those wanting something more fuel-efficient. The RX comes off as being a relaxed and composed ride with a lot of comfort to be felt inside of its cabin. Even the sporty F Sport model makes the RX a bit exciting to drive.
While the RX looks sporty and has a lot of comfort, its fuel economy holds it back from being a strong contender in the luxury SUV segment. The standard 3.5-L V6 is a gas guzzler compared to many of the RX's rivals. The 450h actually does quite well though, so those looking to spend less at the pump might want to go the hybrid route on the RX. But that does mean a bigger price tag upfront.
Is the 2021 Lexus RX the right vehicle for you? There are some important things to know before making the decision to buy. Read on to learn what is new for the model year, which styles and trim levels are available, how the RX drives, and what to expect from its fuel economy.
What's New For 2021?
There are only two changes worth mentioning on the 2021 Lexus RX. The first is the standardization of the blind spot monitoring system across the system, to which rear cross traffic alert is also equipped. The other addition is the wireless charging pad that is available on the higher trims.
You can get the 2021 Lexus RX as a two- or third-row SUV. And, of course, you can opt to get a hybrid powertrain if you want.
The 2021 Lexus RX is available in your choice between two trim levels: the Base and the F Sport. The Base trim level is powered by the same 3.5-L V6 engine as the F Sport, which creates a power output of 295 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. This engine gets paired up with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive comes standard although all-wheel drive is an option on either trim level.
As far as features go, the Base trim is fairly well-equipped. It comes with LED headlights on the front fascia and rides atop 18-inch wheels. Inside, there is a leather-wrapped steering wheel, front seats that are power-adjustable, windshield wipers with rain-sensing capability, push button start with the keyless ignition system, and a dual-zone automatic climate control system. Integration with Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay is also standard.
The Lexus Safety System + 2.0 comes equipped on the Base as well. This gives the RX a number of driver aids, ranging from forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking to lane departure warning and lane keep assist. New this year is a standard blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is also included.
Options for the Base are numerous too. You can equip it with an upgraded navigation system (which comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen display), rear seats that are power-folding, heated and ventilated front seats, a towing package on the AWD models, and a heads-up display.
The F Sport adds unique styling to the front grille, badges, and rear bumper. It also equips 20-inch wheels, an F Sport steering wheel, F Sport dampers on the front and rear, and aluminum interior trim. The optional Handling package adds a heated steering wheel, adaptive suspension, and heated and ventilated front sport seats.
The 2021 Lexus RX is not exactly oriented for a sporty performance, even on the F Sport. It can get up to speed on the highway and pass other vehicles with enough ease, but you will likely want AWD added on for better traction. The F Sport package helps reduce the amount of body roll with its adaptive suspension, although handling is a sour spot for the RX. The brakes modulate well under pressure and in everyday driving, and the transmission makes smooth shifts between gears.
Comfort is where Lexus gets it right. The RX has a quiet, well-insulated cabin and seats that are packed with comfort. A lot of the buttons inside of the cabin are large, which makes them easy to find and use. Taller individuals will have no issue fitting into the front or second row of seats, although the optional third row can feel a tad small.
The infotainment system is in dire need of an overhaul. The touchpad controller is downright aggravating, and it takes too much concentration away from the road for the driver to adeptly use it while driving.
Fuel economy is slightly lagging behind in the competition. Both the 350 and 450h do get somewhere around 31 mpg combined, which is not too shabby but not exactly stellar. The 350L, of course, gets less, coming in at 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway on the FWD models.
The 2021 Lexus RX is more budget-friendly than some of its luxury rivals. While aspects of its driving performance are unrefined, on the whole, the RX delivers a respectable performance. Lexus is clearly working to catch up to its competitors this year.
Formula for Calculating Dealer Cost:
Total Dealer Cost - Rebate and Incentive + Taxes / Licensing Fees = True Dealer Cost. (You can get rebates and incentives here.)
Note: All Lexus RX MSRP, invoice and dealer cost dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.
A note about rebates: Most rebates are subtracted from the "on the road" figure. In most cases, you can have the rebate if you are arranging your own financing or you are paying cash. If you decide to use the manufacturer’s low interest financing, you do not usually get the rebate. Ask your dealer for details.