Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
Comfortable and luxurious, the 2018 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid continue to dominate the midsize-luxury-SUV segment, competing with models like the Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Audi Q5 and Cadillac XT5. This year Lexus has finally added a slightly larger 3-row version, but the last row is very tight on space.
You'll Like The 2018 Lexus RX If...
The 2018 Lexus RX is smooth, quiet and comfortable with a luxurious interior and a long list of safety features. If fuel economy is a high priority, the RX 450h hybrid is a class leader, and the sporty F Sport models handle well and are fun to drive. All RXs enjoy excellent resale values.
You May Not Like The 2018 Lexus RX If...
If understated style is more your taste, the RX’s aggressive look and massive grille might not be for you. The new 3-row Lexus RX is still best suited for five passengers, as its third row is very tight. If you regularly need a third row, opt for a larger SUV.
The big news for the 2018 Lexus RX lineup are the new 3-row, extended-length RX 350L and RX 450hL models. Other updates include an available blind-spot monitor and sunroof on the RX 350 base model and the RX 450h hybrid. Navigation and rear cross-traffic alert are also now available on the hybrid along with a new Premium Package. Lexus’ Enform Safety Connect system is now complimentary for 10 years.
We expect a lot from a Lexus interior, and the 2018 RX delivers with upscale materials, exacting fit and finish and attractive modern design. The analog clock is an elegant touch. All models offer a large multimedia screen which is operated by a console-mounted mouse-like controller some may find frustrating to use. The seats are plush, and there is plenty of head- and legroom in back. Beware of rear blind spots from the narrow roof design. Cargo space is impressive, with over 18 cubic feet behind the rear seats and over 56 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The new RX 350L has standard seating for seven with a 3-across 2nd-row bench. Optional on that model and standard on the RX 450hL are 2nd-row captain’s chairs that reduce total passenger count to six. While a 3-row Lexus RX has been much anticipated, the result is a letdown if you need the last row for all but the most occasional use. Space is extremely tight, even for children. One positive is slightly more cargo room with the rear seats folded.
Lexus doesn’t do boring anymore. The brand has moved away from its attractive but stoic styling and now creates some of the most daring and dynamic shapes on the road. With its gaping “spindle” grille, high beltline and futuristic hard edges, the 2018 Lexus RX isn’t classically beautiful, but you’re not going to lose it in the Target parking lot. More important, no one is going to confuse it for a minivan. The F Sport’s larger 20-inch wheels give the RX an aggressive stance, and the SUV’s blacked-out C-pillar behind its rear windows gives its roof a unique floating appearance. The RX L models are 4.3 inches longer, and Lexus’ designers have done a good job hiding the extra length. It will take a keen eye to tell the difference from the standard model.
The 2018 Lexus RX 350 remains a luxury SUV that places an emphasis on comfort and confidence over blistering performance. The ride is smooth and the interior is quiet, isolating you from the harsh world outside its leather-lined interior. This is an SUV you can drive for hours with little fatigue. We’re not saying the Lexus can’t handle tight turns or twisting back roads, but if you’re seeking razor-sharp reflexes, a step up to the F Sport trim is in order. Equipped with Lexus’ selectable drive-mode system, the F Sport adds a Sport S+ setting that increases steering feedback and quickens throttle response. The RX’s V6 is both powerful and impressively smooth, matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission that should be the standard by which all automatics are judged. The RX 450h hybrid combines an electric motor with the V6 delivering even more horsepower and torque with superior fuel economy. For the most part the new 3-row RX 350L drives much like the standard version, but its increased size and weight make it feel heftier in turns and a touch slower off the line.
The 2018 Lexus RX 350 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $45,000 for a FWD model. AWD costs an additional $1,400, while the Lexus RX 350 F Sport begins at about $50,000. Hybrid Lexus RX 450h models cost around $54,000. The priciest Lexus RX is the 450h F Sport, which starts near $58,000. The new 3-row Lexus RX 350L begins at $48,665, while the 3-row Lexus RX 450hL hybrid starts at $51,615. Adding options to any model can increase the bottom line by thousands. At these prices, the Lexus continues to significantly undercut German rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5. It is in line with the 3-row Acura MDX, and above the starting prices of the Lincoln MKX, Volvo XC60 and Infiniti QX50. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new RX. In addition to having a stellar track record in reliability, the Lexus RX has a tradition of holding its value extremely well.
The Lexus RX has always been well-equipped, and the latest model is no different. Even a base RX comes with a power tailgate, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a faux-leather interior, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, a HomeLink garage-door opener, 18-inch wheels, and the Lexus Safety System+ with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, auto high beams and lane-departure alert. The standard infotainment system includes an 8-inch command screen, 9-speaker audio with USB, Bluetooth, Micro SD card slot and auxiliary input, and Siri Eyes Free for Apple iPhones. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, however, remain unavailable for the Lexus RX.
All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on the new RX 350 and standard on the RX 450h hybrid. F Sport models come with front-wheel drive (FWD) as standard, but can also be had with all-wheel drive. Other options include leather seating, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, a touch-free tailgate, navigation, a larger 12.3-inch screen, and a fantastic-sounding 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. F Sport models add 20-inch wheels, paddle shifters, adaptive variable suspension, and unique front and rear fascias. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual screens, a Heads-Up Display and a Panoramic View Monitor, which gives you a 360-degree view of the SUV’s surroundings, are also available.
LEXUS SAFETY SYSTEM+The Lexus Safety System+ is standard on all 2018 Lexus RX models. The state-of-the-art system includes Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam Headlamps (IHB) and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. PANORAMIC VIEW MONITORThis clever safety system takes the rearview camera to the extreme. It uses four cameras mounted on the front, sides and rear of the Lexus RX to create a bird’s-eye 360-degree view of the SUV on its large 12-inch monitor. It makes parking and backing safer and stress-free.
Under the Hood
The 2018 RX 350 uses Lexus’ tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and strong fuel economy for its class. Unlike some luxury SUV rivals, this one runs just fine on regular 87-octane unleaded gasoline. The V6 works with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, which gets paddle shifters on the F Sport. The RX 350L uses the same V6 but has slightly less power (290 horsepower) due to a single exhaust vs. the standard model’s dual exhaust setup. The most efficient Lexus RX remains the 450h hybrid, which delivers class-leading fuel economy. It pairs the 3.5-liter V6 with a battery-electric powertrain, an electronic continuously variable automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. No plugging in is required, and it gets its best mileage in the city, but premium gasoline is recommended. The 2018 RX 450h and the RX 450hL both have a total output of 308 horsepower, and the 2-row model delivers up to 31 mpg in the city. The Lexus RX’s towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.3.5-liter V6 (RX 350)295 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD), 19/26 mpg (AWD)3.5-liter V6 (RX 350L)290 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (FWD), 18/25 mpg (AWD)3.5-liter V6 + 123-kW electric motor (RX 450h)259 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (gasoline engine only)Total system horsepower: 308247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm (gasoline engine only)EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/28 mpg (AWD)3.5-liter V6 + 123-kW electric motor (RX 450hL)259 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (gasoline engine only)Total system horsepower: 308247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm (gasoline engine only)EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/28 mpg (AWD)
Comfortable and luxurious, the 2018 Lexus RX continues to dominate the midsize-luxury-SUV segment. Two standard models are available, the V6-powered RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid, which is a fuel-economy class leader. New this year is a 3-row variant that can seat up to seven passengers. Lexus also offers the desirable RX F Sport for those who want a sportier driving experience and a more aggressive appearance. F Sport models get a sport-tuned suspension, larger wheels and tires, an in-your-face mesh grille, sport seats and an electronic gauge cluster with additional instrumentation. The new Lexus RX seats five comfortably and delivers a smooth ride, quiet interior and legendary Lexus reliability. It also leads the class with traditionally high resale value. Its long list of competitors includes the Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Audi Q5 and Cadillac XT5.