A Mission of LUV: Driving the 2018 Lexus RX 450hL and Helping the Children [Review]

2018 Lexus RX 450hL - Mission: LUV
Mission: LUV – Wave 1 [Left: Arv Voss]

What is Mission: LUV?

Lexus has been giving back to communities through its philanthropic efforts for the past 29 years, helping several nonprofit organizations around the country. As an exercise in continuing that legacy, the Lexus communications team thought up “LEXUS Mission: LUV”, which involved journalist teams assigning journalists as “agents” to procure items that would benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. Each team of agents was given an assignment packet and futuristic-looking pen with recorded instructions as well as a $500 prepaid debit card. With that, we were tasked with buying supplies that would be donated toward helping the children.

Following a walk-around presentation of Lexus’s lineup of Luxury Utility Vehicles, each Agent team was assigned a car to drive to specific retail stores. Along a pre-determined drive route, we were to purchase suggested items on a shopping list. The suggested items were slated for use in after school and summer camp programs in the 13 clubs located in the Metro Phoenix area. Any balance left over on the Rewards charge card would be donated directly to the charity.

Lexus Mission LUV Loot
A Lexus GX bursting with “loot” for local children’s charities.

Accepting the mission

My agent team consisted of my wife and myself. We were given an assigned drive route starting from our “base of operations” – the Arizona Biltmore hotel. From there, we were to stop along the drive route at Michaels and Best Buy retail outlets. The items we purchased included for the mission included a variety of art supplies and an Xbox Star Wars Pro with an extra controller. We may have been a bit ambitious, as we exceeded our card total. However, Lexus did cover the difference.

2018 Lexus RX 450hL
[Photo: Lexus]

The car: 2018 Lexus RX 450hL

We were assigned a 2018 Lexus RX 450hL hybrid with all-wheel drive. Three-row RX L models join the existing two-row, five-seat RX versions that continue for 2018. Lexus starts this model off at $54,555. However, the final tag rises to $55,550 after adding destination charges. Lexus did not fit any optional equipment to this particular car. In addition to all the features, such as Lexus Enform Safety Connect, you also get 10 years of complimentary Service Connect functionality. That provides vehicle health and maintenance reports to you and your dealer.

The Lexus Hybrid Drive system 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators, producing a total of 308 combined system horsepower. So far as the all-wheel drive system’s concerned, the 2018 Lexus RX 450hL uses its rear-mounted electric motor to drive the rear wheels when you need extra traction. The RX 450hL also allows you to drive in EV mode for short distances.

Lexus extended the new RX L models 4.3 inches overall at the rear, while using a steeper tailgate to add third-row headroom. Access to the third row is fairly easy, thanks to a lever that folds and slides the second-row seats forward. Front strut and rear double-wishbone type suspension systems ensure agility and exemplary ride compliance over virtually all types of surfaces.

Lexus designed the third row to offer the same comfort and luxury as in the middle row. The positioning of the second row is slightly higher than the third row, creating more foot room for rear passengers. A tri-zone climate control system gives third-row passengers separate heating and air conditioning vents, and for convenience, a power-folding third-row seat and power tailgate are both standard.

2018 Lexus RX 450hL
Lexus RX L models add a third row of seats to accommodate two extra passengers. [Photo: Lexus]

Comfort and Convenience Features

The cabin in the 2018 Lexus RX 450hL is nicely finished, including comfortable seats and wood trim (in Premium and Luxury Packages) that curves gently up from the center console toward the glove box. An available full-color Heads-Up Display projects key information on the windshield to help the driver focus on the road. An available Luxury package offers more comfort and aesthetic features. With that package, Lexus gives you semi-aniline trimmed seats, LED ambient lighting, manual rear door sunshades, laser-cut wood and aluminum trim, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a heated steering wheel.

The Navigation Package upgrades to a 12.3-inch split-screen multimedia display and a 12-speaker premium audio system. If that’s not enough, the 2018 Lexus RX 450hL is also available with an 835-watt, 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system.

The standard Lexus Safety System+ includes a plethora of driver assist systems. There’s a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent High Beams and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Braking are also available. If you’re looking for even more tech, a 360-degree camera system is optional.

2018 Lexus RX 450hL: Arabian riding exhibition
Catching some interesting exhibits along the Mission:LUV route.

Mission successful?

The 2018 Lexus RX 450hL stands out as a first-class mode of family transportation. With its third row, it’s more practical than its two-row stablemate. In the acceleration department, the car delivers a satisfying response to “lead-footing”. It’s no sports car, mind you, but it performs well, given what it is. It’s competent in the handling department, with well-weighted steering feel. Not only that, but the 2018 Lexus RX 450hL’s ride quality is comfortable and the cabin’s ambience is truly luxurious.

Most importantly, our “LUV” machine proved to be a great means to accomplish our mission of delivering supplies to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. The overall experience was rewarding, both on terms of the vehicle and the mission. To see more on the RX 450hL, check out Roman’s mission below!


On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $54,555
Price as Tested:
Engine: Hybrid Power System: Series/Parallel system with gas engine and electric motors.

Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6 w/ VVT-iW and port fuel injection.

Front electric motor: Permanent Magnet synchronous motor drives front wheels, regenerative braking – max voltage AC 650V – 165 hp

Rear electric motor: Permanent Magnet synchronous motor drives rear wheels, regenerative braking – max voltage AC 650V – 67 hp

Hybrid Battery Pack: Sealed Nickel Metal Hydride – 288V nominal voltage / 37 kW power output.

Drivetrain (Layout): Front gas engine with hybrid transaxle and front and rear electric drive motors, electric all-wheel drive.
Horsepower: Engine: 259 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Combined: 308 total system horsepower

Torque: 247 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm (not including hybrid drive)
Transmission: Electronically controlled CVT, planetary unit for gear reduction.
Suspension: Front: MacPherson Strut with coil springs, Gas-pressurized shock absorbers, advanced valving and stabilizer bar.

Rear: Multilink with gas-pressurized shock absorbers, advanced valving and stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS, and EBD.
Tires: Goodyear Eagle Touring 235/45 R18 98V mounted on 5 large silver spoke separated by 5-small angled silver spokes with painted inner surfaces.
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): Not currently available


Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 196.9 inches
Width: 74.6 inches
Height: 67.7 inches
Turning Circle: 22.6 feet
Curb Weight 4,905 pounds