Review: 2013 Lexus RX 450h AWD – Responsible Opulence

2013 lexus rx 450h crossover suv luxury hybrid black
2013 Lexus RX 450h

We already know that the Lexus RX is the market leader in the five passenger luxury crossover segment.  The 2013 RX 450h takes all the strengths of the RX-line and adds class-leading fuel economy.  Is this the perfect luxury utility vehicle, or does it still have a few nicks in its armor?  Lets look and find out.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Lexus RX 450h $47,300 $64,339 295/
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: LEASE IT! 30/28 Combined 29 Combined 28.1

First Impressions

This test vehicle was equipped with $6,135 Luxury Package and it shows the moment you open the door.  It welcomes you in with lit up Lexus door sills and cuddles you in supple Semi-aniline leather seats.  You can tell that this crossover is dialed in on luxury and comfort.


2013 lexus rx 450h rear entertainment system
I would not recommend this rear entertainment system. Screens don’t tilt and this adds nearly $5,000 to bottom line.

The only ways to tell the RX 450h from the rest of the RX-line are the all LED headlights and subtle Hybrid badges on the sides.  The 450 also has unique 18 inch wheels, but these do not stand out from the crowd.  On the inside, the Hybrid does not change what already made the RX so successful.  Interior volume or utility is not compromised by the addition of electric motors and a battery pack.  Up front, you will find the well-known Lexus Hybrid drive system display and the “EV-mode” button on the center console.


You may think that the RX 450h uses an identical power system to that on the Lexus GS 450h.  This is not completely true.  While both use an Atkinson-cycle 3.5 liter V6 plus electric motors, the RX 450h makes 43 fewer horsepower than the sporty GS Hybrid.  The RX Hybrid is laser focused on fuel economy and at EPA rated 29 MPG combined – it nails it!  The RX also uses a clever exhaust heat recovery system to further improve emissions and also let the car warm up quicker.

Since the RX Hybrid is laden with two electric motors and battery pack, this is not an overly fast machine.  It does have better full-throttle pickup off the line, thanks to electricity.  And at 7.4 seconds 0-60 MPH as rated by Lexus – it is the quickest RX by 0.3 seconds.  However, it is not the quickest vehicle among its competitors and its acceleration is not as impressive as in the GS 450h.  I wonder what it would be like with additional 43 horses?


Lexus did not mess with success in this department.  The 450h is just as comfortable as any other RX and it may be the quietest of them all.  It’s simply serene when running in electric mode.  You can tell this Lexus is tuned for comfort, not sport.  It soaks up all road surfaces with ease, but does have some lean in corners.  Steering feel is adequate but as not as precise and well weighted as some of its performance oriented opponents.

2013 lexus rx 450h rear tail


Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft Cargo Volume Cu-Ft
2013 Lexus RX 450h $47,300 30/29 295/ 40.0
2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid $50,900 24/30 245/354 29.1
2013 BMW X5 Diesel $56,700  19/26 265/425  23.2
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel $40,295 21/28 240/420  36.3
2013 Mercedes Benz ML Diesel $51,250  20/28  240/455  38.2
2013 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid $69,850 20/24 380/428 20.5
2013 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid $62,055 20/24 380/428 32.1

The competitive field is filled with Diesel and Hybrid machines.  None of them can touch the Lexus on overall fuel efficiency.  And the Lexus has a relatively low starting price, and the largest cargo capacity with all seats in place.  However, the 450h cannot even come close to the monstrous torque numbers of the Diesels and the Cayenne/Touareg platform mates (Lexus is down 85 HP).  Clearly, the competition is focused on high performance, off-road ability, and towing.  While the RX 450h happily trumps them all with 29 MPG combined rating (I averaged 28.1 MPG after a week of mixed driving on my standard routes.)

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Lexus RX 450h a Lease It!

You might be saying.  Wait a minute – I read your RX 350 and RX 350 F-Sport reviews and you mention that the RX 450h is a Buy It!  I can explain.  The Lease It! rating here simply has to do with the $64,339 sticker price of the test vehicle.  Perhaps, I am not in the right demographic, but I don’t think the RX 450h is a good value at nearly $65K.  I can fix this very easily.  I would subtract the $4,920 dual screen rear entertainment system and a couple of other options to bring the bottom line closer to $55,000.  And at this price point – this is a BUY IT! all day long.  You will not find another vehicle this versatile and comfortable that can flirt with 30 MPGs.

Please enjoy this “classic” TFLcar video review of the 2012 Lexus RX 450h:

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.