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2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport Review – How to rate a good car that you kind of hate?

2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport Review - How to rate a good car that you kind of hate?

2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6/three electric motors – one starter/generator, one on each axle (308 hp combined system @ 6,000 rpm, 247 lb-ft (excluding hybrid drive) @ 4,800 rpm)

Electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission; four wheel drive

30 City / 28 Highway / 30 Combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

7.5 city / 8.4 highway / 7.9 combined. (NRCan rating, L/100km)

Base price: $53,275 (US) / $60,250 (Canada)

As tested: N/A (US) / N/A (Canada)

Prices include $1,075 destination surcharge in the United States and $2,245 for freight, PDI and A/C tax in Canada and cannot be directly compared due to cross-border equipment differences.

I want to be completely honest with you – this is The Truth About carsAfter all – I didn’t enjoy driving the 2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F Sport. It’s not that the Lexus is a bad car, it’s that it isn’t right for it me … and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

See that metal footboard? It’s a bit of a head scratch on the presumably sporty F Sport version of the Lexus, especially considering that this RX seems to ride a bit lower than the “F” versions. That said, my objection to these is far from philosophical: they hurt!

ABOUT THE FITNESS CONCEPT

In the early days (read: Pre-COVID) I sold motorcycles. Scratch that. I sold a lot of motorcycles. Mostly Hondas and Kawasakis, but with more than a few Harley-Davidsons, Triumphs, etc thrown in for good measure.

Part of the pitch, when you’re selling a motorcycle, is explaining to the customer that a motorcycle should suit you in three ways. It has to fit you physically, it has to fit your lifestyle and it has to fit your budget.

In terms of physical fitness, you should be able to comfortably reach the pedals from the seat and comfortably reach the steering wheel without straining your back or being in a “weird” position. Those kind of things. Translated into car terms, you should be able to get in and out of the car you are considering without the footboard banging against your leg every time you get in and out of the car.

I’m a little below average height – about 5’7″ – but that seems to put me in this weird limbo where I’m tall enough not to need a footboard, but not tall enough to step over it of course, and I ended up with it every time I got in (ankle) or out (calf) of the RX.(It’s worth noting that my wife, who is a few inches taller and with longer legs, had no such issues.)

So I don’t pass – but this has to be a review so the show has to go on.

ON THE SUBJECT OF STYLE

Moving on to the concept of lifestyle, a motorcycle should not only fit your lifestyle, but also your sense of style. It has to have a certain “feel” or “vibe” or whatever you want to call it – a Road Glide isn’t for everyone, and neither is a Gold Wing, even if the same rider fits both the same way. And while that’s hardly precise language, I’m sure you get the idea.

So, how would the Lexus fit my lifestyle? On paper, I feel like an ideal customer for the RX. I have a house in the suburbs and 2.5(ish) kids. I like sports cars and SUVs. I like things hybrid and electrified (that ‘h’ in the RX450h AWD F Sport stands for ‘hybrid’, by the way). I even like the loud Grecian Water blue paint (it’s not too far from the Volvo Rebel Blue).

Despite this, I’m not sure the Lexus fits my personal sense of style, especially when it comes to the interior… which, again, is beautiful. There is objectively nothing wrong with the interior of the RX450h AWD Sport (well, almost nothing – I’ll get to that in a moment). The leather is beautiful, the brushed aluminum works and the heated/air-conditioned sports seats do their job.

That said, the whole interior feels very “Top Gun” to me. The center console is high, the styling points everything towards the driver, and the myriad knobs and knobs and even the analog clock give off a “we think fighter jets are cool” kind of vibe that 100 percent didn’t speak to me…

… but that’s all subjective.

What I think may not be subjective is that “trackpad” in the center console used to navigate the infotainment system.

That trackpad is my least favorite thing about a car, ever. I’d take a dozen blows to the ankle from a misplaced footboard never to have to use this thing again. And of course, this version of the Lexus also has a capacitive touchscreen, but the screen is fairly far from the steering wheel, and the whole system requires significant “eyes of the road” to navigate.

I found the infotainment system shockingly bad, with way too much focus on graphics about where the electricity was going and way too little to make the thing work like an iPhone or Android or anything else intuitive… but this isn’t a new feeling.

BY CHANCE

Oddly enough, I’ve driven a Lexus RX450h before. It’s been a long time, but Facebook reminded me that it was exactly eight years ago to the day

…and I wrote about that at Gas2 (which has since been sold and repackaged as “enrg.io”). When I reread that review for the first time in nearly a decade, i liked this

“For starters, when you use the mouse in the center console in the Lexus RX450h, you have to take your eyes off the road and focus on the infotainment screen. That’s because there’s no real haptic difference between the feel of, say, changing the station, changing the volume, or switching to the navigation screen… which, it should be noted, you can do on the go. At any speed. Lexus is totally cool with someone running down the road with one hand on the wheel and both eyes on the infotainment screen that sits deep in the dash. It’s a terrible, terrible design decision, and single-handedly explains why almost everyone I know rates Lexus RX drivers as the worst on the road

Back then, the Lexus had a “mouse” not a trackpad, but I remember it working pretty much the same way. And as you could see, I hated it then too.

It’s funny looking back at that eight-year-old Lexus interior and seeing things through the eyes of 2022. The fact that the 2022 RX450h had significantly more buttons came as a bit of a surprise, because it feels like just about every other premium car Tesla has followed to the “big iPad” school of automotive interior design.

I couldn’t get my head around this Lexus. It has aggressive styling both inside and out, but (with “only” 308 horsepower on tap) isn’t particularly fast. There are buttons and knobs and dials everywhere, along with the wacky, laptop-esque interface and even a CD player… so Lexus was clearly trying. But what do they try? Who is this car anyway? in front of

Then came the second big coincidence of this Lexus review: my stepdad bought one. Really.

TREE

Especially for at least one gray-haired Floridian gentleman in his mid-seventies, the 2022 Lexus RX450h AWD F-Sport seems to fit the bill perfectly (he even bought a blue, albeit the more subdued Nightfall Mica instead of the Greek Water).

He appreciates the running boards physically: “I don’t need them now. But if I need them, it’ll be nice to have them.”

And, coming from a strong point of the LS sedans, appreciates that the larger RX “gives it a better view. People drive really crazy these days.”

Stylistically, he thinks the heavily styled F-Sport looks “sharp,” and he said he liked that, “it doesn’t look like an old man’s car.”

He’s a long-time Lexus convert and has been a regular at Kendall Toyota in Miami since the mid-1990s, so he doesn’t really have any other frame of reference when it comes to the infotainment system, and when I asked him about the trackpad , he said sincerely, “Well, how? otherwise would you do it?”

Now fully (rather than “semi”) retired, the Lexus RX450h AWD F-Sport fits even the man’s budget (at a base price of $53,275, the RX450h AWD F-Sport easily sticks for something like $30K less than his most recent LS).

So, who is this Lexus really designed for? Apparently it was designed for my dad – and probably thousands of Lexus customers like him, who will absolutely love it.

The CD player should have informed me, now that I think about it.

Look, the Lexus RX450h AWD F-Sport is not for me. If you’ve read this far, it should come as no surprise. But it’s an objectively competent suburban runabout who is more than capable of both getting a young family around Chicago and a retired boomer all over South Florida doing God knows what (I assume there’s a PF Chang’s involved, but I can’t prove that).

In the pros column, the RX was smooth, quiet and solid – I have no doubt that Toyota’s legendary long-term reliability is baked into almost every part of the Lexus. The fuel consumption was also phenomenal. On the low-speed streets of my neighborhood, the Lexus rarely left EV mode except for a few minutes here and there, seemingly to power the AC on the hottest days (I saw 109 on the dashboard of my Volvo, the used to be a thing).

My travel average was closer to 40 mpg than the EPA-rated 31 mpg without too much effort to hypermile it (the Energy Monitor graphics are fun and game-ify the ride, but its Surely a distraction).

In the cons column there is really nothing subjective. If the styling appeals to you, you like knobs and knobs that do what you want to push and turn, and you feel like the in-dash timepiece looks more stylish than Casio, you should definitely consider refurbishing one…especially before the updated RX with its new iPad-like interior comes out in 2023.

What’s new for 2022

The 2022 Lexus RX450h has been slightly refreshed.

Who should buy it?

The author’s stepfather, the stylish suburban football parent.

[Images © 2022 Jo Borras/TTAC]

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