Hybrids & Electrics

The 2021 Lexus RX 450h Is a Way Better Buy Than the Gas Version

Shopping for a luxury crossover can be tough, especially when it comes down to the finer details. For example, if you’re interested in a 2021 Lexus RX, then you would have to decide between the RX 350 and the RX 450h. One is powered by a gasoline engine and the other has a hybrid powertrain that will cost a little more. But after driving the 2021 Lexus RX 450h around for a week, I can honestly say that buying the hybrid version could be the smarter choice.

The 2021 Lexus RX 450h gets better fuel economy

2021 Lexus RX 450h
A front shot of the 2021 Lexus RX 450h | Joe Santos

RELATED: The 2021 Lexus RX 450h Is a Classy and Comfortable Crossover

First things first, you would expect the hybrid model to get better fuel efficiency than its gas-only counterpart, and it does. According to fueleconomy.gov, the Lexus RX 350 is able to achieve 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, while the 450h is able to garner up to 31 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

Considering these are the figures for the all-wheel-drive variants of each model, those hybrid numbers are pretty impressive. Be that as it may, I actually only achieved 23 mpg in my combined real-world driving for the week, which is much lower than the EPA-estimated 30 mpg. But I’ll chalk that deficit up to the fact that I’m driving at a mile-high altitude and most of my routes consisted of short city-style drives.

2021 Lexus RX 450h rear quarter shot
2021 Lexus RX 450h | Joe Santos

RELATED: 5 Reasons the 2020 Lexus RX 350 Is Ideal For Long Commutes

The Lexus RX 450h has more horsepower

While hybrid vehicles aren’t historically known to have a lot of power, the Lexus RX 450h is a bit of an exception. The RX 450h is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that’s mated to an electric motor and a CVT transmission. The combination produces 308 hp and it can scoot the RX 450h from 0 to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, according to Lexus.

On the other hand, the Lexus RX 350 is powered by a similar 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 295 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque. According to the automaker, it can get the RX up to 60 mph in just 7.9 seconds as well. Considering everything is just about even, I would contend that the RX 450 is a better buy because you’ll get more power, better fuel efficiency, and similar performance as the gas version. So why not spend a little more on the hybrid?

A side shot of the 2021 Lexus RX 450h
2021 Lexus RX 450h | Joe Santos

How much does the Lexus RX 450h cost compared to the RX 350?

A base 2021 Lexus RX 350 starts at around $45,220 (without destination) and the base RX 450h starts at $47,920. You’ll get a lot of similar features in each trim level, so that extra $2,700 is mainly going toward the hybrid powertrain.

If you want more luxurious features, or possibly the F sport trim like my tester was, then the pricing goes up from there and can top at around $52,000 before adding accessories or options. Is the hybrid powertrain worth that much more? In my experience with it, I think so. And if you’re able to drive both models back to back, then you might think so too.