10 Reasons the Lexus RX 450h Plug-in Hybrid is Worth the Splurge

37 miles of electric driving, suede, open pore wood and the best tech Lexus has to offer will keep this SUV ahead of its time for a long time to come.

The 2024 Lexus 450H Phev
The 2024 Lexus 450h PHEV. Photo: Scotty ReissCredit: Scotty Reiss

It’s Top of the Line and Electric, But That’s Only Part of the Luxury

The real luxury of electric cars is skipping stops at the gas station — unless you really just need snacks or a soda.

We tend to think of luxury as cushy leather seats, a quiet ride and confidence to thrill-inducing performance. I’d add to that reliability and leading-edge technology that make the purchase one you don’t have to repeat every few years in order to have the best thing on the market. Add to that a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain that delivers a solid 35 MPG from the gas-only motor and an additional 37 miles of all-electric driving.

All that describes the Lexus RX 450h PHEV, which is priced from $70,580, the most expensive in the RX lineup.

Related: There’s a new Lexus RX Hybrid SUV for 2023, and It’s Everything a Makeover Should Be

The View Of The Front Cabin In The 2024 Lexus 450H Phev

The view of the front cabin in the 2024 Lexus 450h PHEV. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The PHEV Lexus RX is Finally Here

We’ve been waiting for this one for a while: the PHEV version of the RX. Redesigned a few years ago, Lexus finally gave the RX what it so sorely needed: a modern, updated interior design and technology that matches its competitors. While we loved the leather seats and design of the RX before its makeover, its controls and functions felt clunky and outdated when compared to midsize SUVs from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Lincoln and Infiniti. Lexus fans were true blue, though, and now, they are rewarded with a mid-size 5-passenger SUV that misses almost nothing in its execution.

Here are the top things that make the Lexus RX 450h PHEV worth the money.

Related: The Lexus GX 550 Cradles You in Luxury, On or Off-Road

The Command Center With The Elegant Gear Selector And Ev Controls

The command center with the elegant gear selector and EV controls. Photo: Scotty Reiss

1. It Saves You Time and Money Every Day

If you drive mostly on electric you’ll almost never buy gas, which is a luxury in itself, even if it doesn’t pay for itself. And, you can choose when to use your electric power; I chose to use it for my first 37 miles each day; when the battery depleted, the hybrid engine kicked in.

During my week with the Lexus RX 450h I drove more than 200 miles but only used about two gallons of gas; the needle on the gas gauge barely moved. I charged it at night at a standard 110V household charger and easily replenished the battery.

And then, I could chose to hold the electric power entirely and use it later, or pop on EV Auto mode to allow the system to decide when to use electric and when not to.

2.The PHEV is Powerful

This version has a nice amount of power, at 304 HP. This is more than the 275 HP standard engine and the 246 HP gas-only hybrid, but not as much as the 366 hybrid F Sport model. I felt completely confident merging onto the highway and even had a bit more fun when in Sport mode, though I have to confess, I mostly drove in Eco to maximize fuel efficiency. I do find not going to the gas station to be a huge luxury.

The Head Up Display Is So Vibrant

The head up display is so vibrant. Photo: Scotty Reiss

3. That Head Up Display

It’s a must-have on this car. First, it’s wide, it’s bright and has subtle color variations that indicate different functions. Turn on the adaptive cruise control and you’ll see the lane departure system in green, the follow distance in blue and other details, such as speed and the position of cars around you in white. Controls for what you see can be customized on the multimedia screen and you can turn things on or off using the touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel.

The system takes some time to become second nature, but it will and it’s very, very cool.

Rear Controls For Back Seat Passengers Include Heated Seats

Rear controls for back seat passengers include heated seats. Photo: Scotty Reiss

4. The Interior Is a Cloud of Privilege

With leather and sueded seating, dashboard lining and door panel inserts, accented by wood other hard surfaces, the interior feels very much like the exclusive place it should. You can get these interior features on other models, too; this is the top of the line interior.

Ambient Lighting In The 2024 Lexus Rx 450H Phev

Ambient lighting in the 2024 Lexus RX 450H PHEV

5. It Does Party Tricks

The Lexus RX 450h can park itself. This is something that some automakers are phasing out, but once you learn to use it, you might actually find it more helpful than not. I actually really like to use it, especially for  backing into a parking spot flawlessly, something that I often like to do but find it difficult to see all the way around the car all at once the way the car’s sensors and cameras can.

You can also have fun with the ambient lighting, which is adjustable and colorful. I really loved being able to play with this.

I Was Sad To Leave These Door Latches Behind

I was sad to leave these door latches behind. Photo: Scotty Reiss

6. All the Extras Are Standard

Power door handles, ambient lighting, heated rear seats, auto hold, heated and vented front seats with knee heaters, HUD with touch sensitive steering wheel controls, a 14” touch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Lexus strove to innovate some of these features, such as the front seat knee heaters that come on when you turn on the heated front seats, and the powered door latches, which may have been my favorite feature of all in this car. It took me weeks (weeks!) to forget the lovely ease of just pushing a button and then giving the door a little nudge to open it. It became clear that the process of tugging a handle one way and then pushing the door the other way takes a lot of needless effort!

7. Hey Lexus Voice Assistance

I fell in love with this feature the first time I learned about it. Once you’ve turned on the wake word (under vehicle settings/voice) you can simply ask for what you want: Hey Lexus, set the cabin temperature; Hey Lexus, change the radio station; Hey Lexus, take me to Starbucks. This is a standard feature but some details may require a subscription to enhanced maps or other services.

The Profile Of 2024 Lexus 450H Phev Is Sleek And Familiar

The profile of 2024 Lexus 450h PHEV is sleek and familiar. Photo: Scotty Reiss

8. This is the Most Evolved Lexus RX Ever

The redesign certainly updated a lot of the look, materials and function of the RX, but the 450h goes beyond, with electric driving, the ability to hold the charge if you’d like to use it later, or not at all, and the ability to move back and forth between EV and sport mode. So you get what you want when you want it.

I Really Did Love The Puddle Light In The 2024 Lexus 450H Phev

I really did love the puddle light in the 2024 Lexus 450h PHEV. Photo: Scotty Reiss

9. The Few Extras Are Worth It, and Not Pricey

Even though nearly every feature is standard, there are a few extras that enhance the experience. And they are worth it; these are not super expensive and don’t drive the overall price up very much. Our test model added a puddle light ( $175), power rear lift gate with kick-motion sensor ($150), digital key and digital rear view mirror package ($475) a surround view camera and traffic jam assist package ($1,420) and automatic park assist ($480). With destination of $1,350 the final price on our test model came to about $75,190, so not a huge bump from the MSRP.

Rear Seats With Our Car Seats Installed

Rear seats with our car seats installed. There was ample room for rear facing seats – if you’re willing to put car seats in a car this luxe. Photo: Scotty Reiss

10. This Car Will Be Ahead of its Time For a Long Time to Come

That’s a function of the design, which is still all Lexus RX in its front face, grille and headlights, familiar rear end with a new taillight bar and its silhouette. But inside, the user technology and safety tech are advanced and in my experience, pretty flawless. Everything was easy to use and quite reliable. And, the extras are all extra. I came to really love the knee heaters, the electric door latches and the panoramic sunroof. Even the interior details of brown leather and suede — in hues of brown, which are not my favorite color combination — swayed me. Every minute in this car felt so good.

The Lexus RX 450h PHEV has 61 more HP and costs about $9,000 more than RX 350h hybrid, which has most of the same standard features; the difference is power and powertrain. But when you go all out for a top of the line luxury car, the last thing you want are compromises, and the RX 450h is short on those. Unless you like spending your time at the gas station, which of course you still can. Maybe just to show off your plush new Lexus RX.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss