2024 Lexus RX500h Cranks Up Its Luxury Game, Not Its Dynamics

By February 26, 2024Lexus
2024 Lexus RX500

The 2024 Lexus RX500h evolves in the same way as a pontoon boat. No matter how sophisticated pontoons have become, they’re still, inherently, a pontoon. Don’t expect it to suddenly transform into a wake surfing craft because it was never meant to be that. That’s precisely the feeling I had after spending a week’s time with the new RX. I was expecting way too much from it. I wanted it to be a BMW, or a Genesis. At the end of the day, you can’t hide the fact that it’s first and foremost, a Lexus, which comes with its share of checklist criteria, one of which isn’t driving dynamics. These things were always meant to be as smooth, comfortable and reliable as possible, and that’s precisely what Lexus is delivering here.

2024 Lexus RX500h Review: At Least It Wasn’t Pink

2024 Lexus RX500Mind you, it’s rather embarrassing to see how Lexus is actually trying to make the RX feel cool. My tester had a seriously vadered out look with its Nebula Grey color, blacked out grill, mirrors, wheels and roof. Heck, Lexus will even sell you one in Copper (which leans to pink). I mean, that’s the raddest thing to come out of the automotive industry since the return of Teal. Indeed, Toyota and Lexus no longer want to be associated with boring, and with the 2024 Lexus RX500h, it’s certainly working. At least, from the exterior, it is.2024 Lexus RX500hIt also has considerably more personality than before. The old RX looked like a very classy Toyota RAV4, while this looks stanced, swoopy, aggressive and somewhat futuristic, while still being easily recognizable as a Lexus SUV. I quite like it!2024 Lexus RX500hThe RX now comes is a wide range of different versions, either powered by a turbocharged engine, a hybrid and even a plug-in hybrid. This one, the RX500h, is the top tog of the non plug-in hybrid lineup. It’s comprised of a hybridized turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Total combined horsepower walks all over the old V6 at 367 horsepower and a mountain-cracking 406 lb-ft of combined torque. One of the two electric motors assisting the internal combustion engine (ICE), sits directly on the rear axle, which grants the RX500h all-wheel drive. In this configuration, the RX will, according to Lexus, hit 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Like I said: no longer boring.2024 Lexus RX500hPricing for this top-spec Lexus RX is, not cheap. Really not cheap. The thing kicks off at $81,100 here in Canada for Christ’s sake. The one I was driving, due to a few options, like the $6,300 F Sport Performance 3 package, stickered at a staggering $89,738, including freight. Holy smokes!

Definitely Not A German-Fighter

2024 Lexus RX500hSo, sure, the 2024 Lexus RX500h is definitely well put together, hyper luxurious, comfortable and, like all Lexus products, feels like it’ll last forever. I’ll get back to all that in a bit. But 90 grand for this posh Toyota does feel like a steep incline, especially considering that in this price bracket, you’re stepping into BMW X3M territory. No, the RX500h cannot keep up with an X3M.I mean, sure, it’s “quick” off the line because that hybrid drivetrain does know how to put down decent numbers. And Toyota’s TNGA modular architecture – which basically underpins everything at the company now – does allow this SUV to feel adequately buttoned down, rock-solid, nimble and somewhat sporty. But in terms of driving dynamics this is nowhere near what the Germans will sell you for similar money. Hell, it’s not even close to what the Germans will sell you at the entry level.2024 Lexus RX500hThe reason I make a big deal out of this is that we now expect the luxury segment to do more than just be luxurious. It must also deliver on the performance front, the dynamics front and the thrills. The 2024 Lexus RX500h delivers on none of these elements, which seriously had me wondering why on Earth anyone would pay BMW M money for this fancy Toyota.The 2024 Lexus RX500h does, however, have a few cool tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it’s tremendously frugal at the pump, a quality that can’t be denied in this day and age. Although it puts down a seriously impressive amount of power and gets itself up and going rather quickly, it never really consumed more than 9L/100 km during the week I was driving it in cold weather. It’s also butter smooth on beaten roads. Like really smooth, something the Germans still have trouble accomplishing even when fitted with posh adjustable dampers. The RX doesn’t drive over the tarmac, it glides over it like a magic carpet.And then there’s the general craftsmanship of the damn thing. Step inside the 2024 Lexus RX500h and no stone has been unturned in terms of material and build quality. I do believe this is where Lexus truly flexes its biggest muscles. There are honestly no cheap plastics in this cabin, no rattles, nothing feels like an afterthought. All touchpoints feel like you’re making contact with something expensive. The level of attention to detail is honestly off the chart.My tester’s contrasting red leather accents on the seats, center console and door cards only added to the exquisite feel. The paddle shifters are made of actual brushed aluminum, so are the elements on the dashboard and around the cupholders. Pulling a window switch feels heavy. That window also slows down its running speed before arriving to a halt. Every single texture that wraps the dashboard is soft to the touch. My only complaint is the overall design of this cabin; it doesn’t look like anything particularly inspiring.Lexus finally understood that it’s god-awful trackpads didn’t make sense to operate its equally disappointing infotainment systems. In the RX, the entire system has been overhauled with touch controls and a user interface that’s finally in tune with what we expect from these systems. The graphics are sharp, the response  speed is quick and the icons are large, bright units that makes everything easy to comprehend. Oh, and did I mention how bitchin’ the Mark Levinson audio system sounds in this car?I also need to  mention that this is hands down one of the best OEM navigation systems I’ve ever had a chance to operate, almost as great as Google Maps. Hell, even the steering-wheel mounted controls, that allow you to command a wide range of functions through the heads up display, are the textbook definition of great user experience. I kid you not they almost felt like a Playstation controller. That’s how intuitive they felt in my hands.Perhaps I’m reviewing the 2024 Lexus RX500h from the wrong eye. My millennial self has been trained to judge luxury vehicles on their Nürburgring lap times and 0-100 km/h acceleration capabilities. But maybe I should be more understanding towards the RX’ target audience: professionals who are typically over 45 years of age. Historically, nobody bought an RX because it was faster than a BMW, yet, Lexus still managed to sell 120,000 of them in the US and Canada alone last year. Indeed, the RX is proof that a luxury vehicle can be evaluated solely on the quality of the product. For some, there’s no price for a genuinely well built item.

Clavey's Verdict

Review of the 2024 Lexus RX500h by William Clavey
Midsize Luxury SUVs

  • Fanatical attention to detail.
  • Potent and frugal hybrid drivetrain.
  • Always immensely smooth and comfortable.
  • Some rivals offer better straight-line performance.
  • Not a canyon-carver.
  • That price tag can get salty.

7 / 10

Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.

Special thanks: Lexus Canada

Photography: Guillaume Fournier

Contact the author: [email protected]

William Clavey

About William Clavey

Automotive Journalist from Canada. Active collaborator at mainstream media outlets across Canada.

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