The Aging Lexus RX Is Quietly Selling Better Than Ever

Lexus is one of the most popular luxury vehicle brands in the United States. A significant reason for its popularity is that Toyota owns it. With the brand’s popularity as a whole, it’s no surprise that the Lexus RX continues to outsell competitors. Most experts agree that the RX doesn’t face stiff competition, even when stacked against the Genesis GV80 or the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.

The seasoned Lexus RX vs the brand-new Genesis GV80

A dark blue Lexus RX sitting in a showroom with other cars behind it on a white floor with black lettering stating "New Lexus RX 450h" on the floor.
Lexus RX | Getty Images

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) published a review entitled “2021 Genesis GV80 vs. 2021 Lexus RX Comparison” earlier this year. The author began by pointing out how the new 2021 Genesis GV80, a product of Korean-based Hyundai, is going toe-to-toe with the “seasoned veteran of the midsize luxury class,” referring to the tried and true 2021 Lexus RX.

According to the review, the GV80 is above average in standard and optional features, exceptional safety technology, offering either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and a class-leading warranty program.

Among the things that were below average, the GV80 doesn’t offer a V8 or hybrid engine, the third row is optional and tiny, and the Genesis brand lacks brand recognition. “Not surprisingly, it offers a ton of value, great safety features, and excellent driving manners for thousands less than its German competitors,” the KBB review explained.

As for the Lexus RX, the reviewer wrote that it’s above average in areas such as having a comfortable ride, offering an optional hybrid engine, offering a sporty model with performance upgrades, having great resale value, offering a luxurious interior, and an optional third row. 

However, it’s below average in terms of not being sporty enough, the optional third row feels confined, and its styling might not fit every buyer’s taste. In a similar review published by Autotrader, the sentiment toward both mid-size luxury crossovers is nearly the same.

The Lexus RX stacked up against the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Negating other sources, U.S. News listed the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class “#1 in Luxury Midsize SUVs.” It listed the 2021 Lexus RX “#5 in Luxury Midsize SUVs.” This is compared to the second place 2021 BMW X5, with a score of 8.4 out of 10, the third-place 2022 Audi Q8 with a score of 8.3 out of 10, and the fourth-place 2021 Lincoln Aviator with an 8.2 out of 10. As one can see, the overall score of each luxury crossover only differs by one-tenth. In other words, it’s a good idea to give each model a serious look before setting your sights on one.

Review scoring aside, historical sales figures clearly show which luxury crossover SUV is number one. According to GoodCarBadCar, sales figures for the Lexus RX have averaged over 100,000 units sold between 2005 and 2020. GoodCarBadCar sales figures show the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class has averaged around 30,000 to 40,000 units sold over the same period.

The sales figures from GoodCarBadCar for the Genesis GV80 are practically nonexistent, with 296 sold in 2020. But things are looking up in 2021, with nearly 850 units sold as of June.

An overview of the 2021 Lexus RX

As per the Lexus website, there are eight RX trim models, with the base RX 350 having a starting MSRP of $45,220. Then there is the RX 350 F Sport at $48,700 and RX 350L at $48,050. For the AWD model, you’ll have to spend an extra $1,400. The five higher trims range in starting price from $47,920 to $51,885 for the RX 450h F Sport AWD Black Line Special Edition.

Every 2021 Lexus RX model is powered by a stout 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 295 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque. It may not be as racy as the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, but acceleration is smooth and steady.

The powertrain is paired with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. While it generally shifts smoothly under normal conditions, pushing it can cause it to jump around occasionally.

Lastly, the 2021 RX 350 has 13 standard advanced safety features and five optional advanced safety features. Things like synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a power liftgate, and eight similar creature comforts come standard.

RELATED: 2021 Lexus RX vs. 2021 Genesis GV80: Should You Take a Chance on the Up-and-Comer?