EXPERT REVIEW

2024 Lexus RX 450h+ PHEV Quick Spin: When You’re Not Ready for a Full EV

lexus rx 450h2B 2024 03 exterior profile scaled jpg 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry
Photo of Aaron Bragman
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

There’s a legitimate argument to be made that electric vehicles are not right for everyone. Maybe you have nowhere to charge at home, maybe you’ve heard horror stories about the state of public charging, with broken fast chargers and long lines, or maybe you take lots of long road trips and just don’t want the hassle of stopping to charge. But maybe you also like the idea of having an electric car — motoring without emissions and paying less for every commute. In that case, a plug-in hybrid might be exactly what you need.

Related: Is the Redesigned 2023 Lexus RX a Good SUV? 5 Things We Like, 5 Things We Don’t

lexus rx 450h2B 2024 06 exterior rear badge scaled jpg 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

That’s what we have here. The latest and greatest mid-size luxury SUV from Lexus is the RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid — “h” for hybrid, “+” for plug-in (in Lexus speak). The 450h+ has a much bigger battery than the hybrid RX 350h and can drive for an extended range at higher speeds in all-electric mode, but it also has a gasoline engine so it can keep going when the battery is depleted. 

We took a brief spin in the new ’24 RX 450h+ at an event in Austin, Texas, for the launch of the new 2024 Lexus TX SUV. We didn’t get much all-electric driving time, thanks to the battery already being depleted when we got into the SUV, but we were still able to get a good impression of what it’s like to drive.

lexus rx 450h2B 2024 04 exterior profile charge port scaled jpg 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Special Equipment

The RX 450h+ uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s mated to Toyota’s proven continuously variable automatic transmission hybrid drivetrain. Instead of the nickel-metal-hydride battery that’s found in the non-plug-in RX hybrid, it uses a lithium-ion battery pack and is able to go up to 37 miles on electric power alone, according to EPA estimates. 

The gas engine alone puts out 180 horsepower and 168 pounds-feet of torque, but with one stab at the go-pedal in the RX 450h+ you’ll quickly realize that system torque is considerably more than that. Lexus hasn’t said what the system’s combined torque is, but total system output is 304 hp. Lexus says this SUV can jet from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, so given it has a curb weight of 4,750 pounds, you know it has to be putting out a healthy amount of torque.

lexus rx 450h2B 2024 08 interior engine scaled jpg 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Related Video:

Latest news

mclaren-artura-spider-2025-exterior-oem-03

2025 McLaren Artura Spider: Stop, Drop, Open Up Top

honda-pilot-black-edition-2025-exterior-oem-03

Back In Black: 2025 Honda Pilot Capped by New Black Edition, Priced from $41,295

16Hyundai_Elantra_OEM.jpg

Hyundai Recalls Over 186,000 Elantras for Emergency Trunk Latches

My brief 30-minute stint in the RX 450h+ started off in gas-electric hybrid mode, not electric-only mode, because the battery had been drained by multiple test drives prior to my own. Although the battery is meant to be charged using a Level 2 charging system — and can do so in about 2.5 hours thanks to its onboard 6.6-kilowatt charger (DC fast charging is not available) — it also has a charge mode in which the engine will run both to provide propulsion and to charge the battery. I used this mode when I got in the RX, and after a 15-mile drive to a turnaround point, the gauge cluster meter told me I’d built up a couple of miles of electric range. I then switched it into EV Mode and drove back to the starting point.

In hybrid mode, the RX drives like most Toyota-based hybrids – smooth and quiet, with gasoline-to-electric transitions that are silky smooth and unobtrusive. Toyota and Lexus are the original masters of this kind of powertrain, and it shows in just how refined and lovely they are to drive today. And when you switch it into EV Mode, it only gets better. 

lexus rx 450h2B 2024 05 exterior rear angle scaled jpg 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

You won’t find full-power acceleration in the RX 450h+’s EV Mode, but it’s still plenty quick for around-town driving and the twisty hills I negotiated in the hills west of Austin. EV Mode is a mostly normal driving experience, just without any powertrain noise — which to me only makes a luxury vehicle feel even more luxurious. This is the same powertrain you’ll find in the smaller Lexus NX 450h+ plug-in hybrid, but the RX has a bit more weight to cart around than that compact SUV. Accordingly, it’s a tick slower to 60 mph, according to Lexus, arriving in 6.2 seconds instead of the NX’s 6 seconds flat. 

That said, acceleration numbers aren’t all that relevant here; nobody’s ripping off 0-60 sprints in the RX 450h+ – that’s not the purpose of the thing. It’s instead meant to be a comfortable, luxurious bridge between a normal hybrid vehicle that gets good fuel economy and a full electric vehicle, which doesn’t use gas at all. With 37 miles of driving range, the RX 450h+ provides something of the best of both worlds – enough electric range for many users’ daily commute, plus good fuel economy after the battery is depleted. (The RX 450h+ is rated 36/33/35 mpg city/highway/combined). If your commute is less than 37 miles round trip and you have somewhere to plug in at home, you could theoretically commute every day without gasoline but still have a gas engine right there for longer trips. No range or charging anxiety in sight.

lexus rx 450h2B 2024 10 interior front row scaled jpg 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Standard RX

The rest of the RX 450h+ is pretty much your standard RX SUV, albeit at the top-level Luxury trim. Other RX trim levels include base, Premium, Premium+, and F Sport. This means that the interior features in the RX 450h+ are the nicest combinations of leather and wood you can get in an RX, and there are a ton of amenities — and the sticker price reflects that. The cheapest RX you can get is a base RX 350 with front-wheel drive, which starts at $49,950 (all prices include destination fee). The RX 450h+ Luxury AWD that I tested starts at $70,080, and the as-tested price was $75,330. That’s a lot for any mid-size luxury SUV, but it does represent the pinnacle of the RX’s offerings. 

The RX is one of the best-selling mid-size luxury crossover SUVs on the market, and it’s often credited as the one that created the class. Lexus has kept it fresh, with new technology, a proliferation of powertrains that run from gas to hybrid to plug-in hybrid, and styling that’s in keeping with the brand’s motif without being too weird. The price of an RX 450h+ is steep, but for the right buyer it’s going to be the sweet spot between electric drive indulgence and RX familiarity. 

lexus rx 450h2B 2024 13 interior center stack display scaled jpg 2024 Lexus RX 450h+ | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

More From Cars.com:

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Latest news

mclaren-artura-spider-2025-exterior-oem-03

2025 McLaren Artura Spider: Stop, Drop, Open Up Top

honda-pilot-black-edition-2025-exterior-oem-03

Back In Black: 2025 Honda Pilot Capped by New Black Edition, Priced from $41,295

16Hyundai_Elantra_OEM.jpg

Hyundai Recalls Over 186,000 Elantras for Emergency Trunk Latches