2013 Lexus RX 450h: 750-Mile Gas Mileage Test

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The Lexus RX luxury crossover line is the mainstay of Toyota's luxury line in the U.S., representing fully 42 percent of the brand's total 2011 sales.

And the hybrid Lexus RX 450h model finds many buyers among progressive, affluent suburban families.

There's just one problem: Its real-world gas mileage doesn't appear to match its EPA ratings.

Reader Jay Fink wrote last month to Green Car Reports:

I would love to express my disappointment in the fuel economy of my 2012 Lexus RX450 Hybrid. I'm not getting anywhere near what Lexus claims the vehicle should get.

I'm a conservative driver and use premium fuel. Lexus dealer blew me off when I brought this up. Clearly I'm not the only one not so happy.

He's not the first person who's mentioned this, so we decided to check for ourselves.

Over 750 miles: 26.8 mpg

We obtained an all-but-brand-new 2013 Lexus RX 450h from the maker, and embarked on a 750-mile, five-day road test, covering about three-quarters highway and rural two-lane roads.

We obtained an overall figure of 26.8 miles per gallon, according to the car's trip computer.

That's about 10 percent lower than our all-wheel drive RX 450h's EPA combined rating of 29 mpg (30 mpg city, 28 mpg highway).

For reference, the front-wheel drive 2013 RX 450h is rated at 30 mpg combined (32 mpg city, 28 mpg highway).

2013 Lexus RX 450h

2013 Lexus RX 450h

Enlarge Photo

Testing an all-wheel drive 2012 Lexus RX 450h over 1,600 miles to Switzerland from the U.K. and back, we got 31 mpg in stop-and-go urban driving, but only 25 mpg on the highway.

In that case, at least, Lexus warned us that highway travels were not the RX hybrid's forte, and that mileage would be better in the city.

Crowd-sourcing MPG results

But now there's publicly available data to analyze as well. The EPA's FuelEconomy.gov website includes a relatively new feature that lets owners of specific vehicles upload the mileage they get in those vehicles.

But for the all-wheel drive 2012 Lexus RX 450h (the 2013 model is too new to have reported data), a grand total of three owners report an average of 29.3 mpg.

For the 2011 model, a single owner reported 20.0 mpg, and for 2010, the average from five owners was 29.7 mpg.

You be the judge

For the front-wheel drive RX models, the 2012 averaged 22.0 mpg (one single owner), the 2011 was 24.0 mpg (one owner), and the 2010 model came in at 24.2 mpg (three owners).

2013 Lexus RX 450h

2013 Lexus RX 450h

Enlarge Photo

None of these figures are validated, and of course it's a self-selected sample and very, very few vehicles indeed. So you can be the judge of its statistical validity.

We would cautiously suggest that the hybrid Lexus RX seems at best to equal its EPA ratings--but in some cases seems to do considerably worse.

23 mpg in Highlander Hybrid

During 130 miles of similarly mixed driving—more freeway miles than urban stop-and-go—we achieved just 23 mpg in a 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which uses the same basic hybrid running gear as the RX 450h.

The Highland Hybrid, which comes only in all-wheel drive form, is EPA-rated at 28 mpg combined, so the difference is even starker there.

Our test car, moreover, carried a staggering $58,060 sticker price, including mandatory delivery of $875.

The base 2013 RX 450h starts at $47,310, or $8,000 more than the base price of the gasoline RX 350 model.

To that, our lovely Deep Sea Mica metallic blue example added a $5,635 Luxury Package, with leather trim, a one-touch moonroof, folding heated mirrors, a heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps with washers, and a host of appearance niceties like brushed metal sill plates lit by blue LEDs.

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Comments (26)
  1. Fuel.ly shows similar numbers. With only 7 vehicles, the average is about 26.5 mpg.

  2. Buy a Grand Cherokee diesel when it comes along.

    That will get 30+ mpg on the highway and cost a lot less than a Lexus RX hybrid.

  3. YouI've driven 50,000 miles with my RX450h and was able to achieve 31.5 mpg on a regular basis. The best mileage was 34 mpg on slow rural routes going about 40 mph and worst was 27 mph going 90 mpg on Interstate. I travel with 3 or 4 people and always with windows closed and AC on. I previously own an RX400h and I was only able to average 26 mpg so I am pretty impressed with the RX450h gas mileage.

  4. Sorry. Don't know how the 'You' got in front of my post.

  5. Interesting to hear your experiences Tony. Was the interstate on which you achieved 27mpg fairly flat? The Switzerland trip John mentions above was done by me, and I struggled to better 25mpg doing the French limit of 80mph (and realistically, it didn't do much better at 65-70mph). The road was fairly undulating though, particularly through the Alps, as you can imagine.

    I was much more impressed by the 31mpg I got in city driving - for a 2.1-ton gasoline SUV, that's not bad at all.

  6. This has been my experience as well. Have a 2010 RX450h. Lifetime average about 26.4 mpg. In my 2008 Prius I could easily exceed the EPA numbers and get in the 50 mpg range, but really struggle to get the mileage much above 27 mpg in the RXh.

  7. That is b/c those Toyota Hybrids are intended for "peformance" and "comfort" where Prius is detuned to the point of crappy acceleration. So, the owners will easily get the EPA figure.

    Actually in my personal experience of Prius (rented one), it only got about 38mpg during my 2 days of driving it. But I don't drive like a typical Prius driver.

  8. Prius acceleration is fine with 0-60 in 11 seconds, and yes some people don't know how to drive an it impacts their gas mileage.

  9. If you call 11 secs a "fine" 0-60, then I got nothing else to say to you...

    Double digit 0-60 times are so 1930s... It is perfectly fine for school bus, trailer trucks, RVs and VW minibus...

  10. Anyone who can't drive safely with a ~11 second 0-60 probably shouldn't be driving at all.

  11. Well, I agree. That covers about half million Prius drivers. I only wish I can take away their driver's licenses...

  12. 1930’s??
    I’m not sure how old you are, but when I was a kid back in the 1970’s, the AVERAGE car had 0-60 of 14 second, meaning that half of them took longer than 14 seconds.

    For the last 30 years, 0-60 has settled in on about 9-10 seconds so a Prius is only marginally slower than a typical car.

    Also, as for a bus, looks like 0-60 is more like 46 seconds.

  13. Looks like 1930's 0-60 were 26-29 seconds.
    They didn't even reach 60 mph in the 1/4 mile. So the 0-60 time is greater than the 1/4 mile time.

  14. you are right there bro, but u could be driving the PRIUS V 2012 as its EPA mpg is 40+ something... but if u drive the other Prius models other than the V, it would be at 50sh range and may even go higher...

  15. and i may think that u rented the PRIUS V and ur right, i have tested drive the PRIUS V and its acceleration is realllly slow and it feels heavy compared to other PRIUS models...

  16. but wasn't you driving it in the mountain the Catskills mountain are pretty aggressive roads .. anyways with every car the millage is very if it rated at 28 and your getting 26 26.8 to that matter in the mountain I would consider that good.. try doing it in the city and see if its different

  17. The owner of the RX 450H in question and the author of this article miss or ignore a few easy targets.

    1) Real world city mileage is always worse then the epa estimate...especially for full hybrids.
    Even the great Prius attains only a 32 in Consumer Reports city mpg testing which is more then 40% lower then the 51 epa estimate. However that 32 real world city mpg for the Prius is far better then any other comparable ice real world city mpg. Look it up. Midsize n even small ice cars usually test in the teens for city mpg. So add the stellar 55 tested hwy mpg(often CR tested hwy mpg is a little for most cars n hybrids included) for the Prius and you have a combined real world 44 mpg according to CR.

  18. 2) Most drivers with high horsepower engines use that extra power.
    The RX450H has nearly 300 hp n 300lbs of torque...considerably more then the base model. Many of these H drivers are likely going to be very tempted to let all those horses run free more times then they should to achieve excellent mileage. More pedal down means more mpg down. Too much fun to resist, right?

    3) Lets assume that most RX450H are suburban or rich rural drivers.
    Therefore they will usually travel many more highway miles then city like miles or at least a significant majority. The vehicle in question is rated at 32/28.

  19. Now lets use the info from my first point to see how logical the Consumer Reports testing results are for the RX450H: 22/31/26. Finally add points 2 n 3 and you can see how drivers of this vehicle can attain combined mpgs in the low 20s...which is pretty damn good actually for a midsize luxury suv...currently. Drive conservatively n one might get better like Tony has.

    One more point of information that all seemed to have neglected, including myself, thus far:

    You didn't buy a Prius for less then half the $$ n twice the mpg...you bought an expensive suv!!! BTW, nearly all, if not all, the RX450's competitors get at least 30% worse mpg

  20. very well said Erik.... you're a GURU... ur absolutely right... why compare LEXUS RX 450h with PRIUS... ahaha... try to compare RX450 with AUDI, ACURA, MERCEDES, HIGHLANDER, BMW X3 or X5 and see who TOPS them all.... it will still be the 450h.... PRIUS is the top of the line in terms of FUEL EFFICIENCY but it's NOT LUXURY compared to LEXUS and the like... ahaha... unless otherwise it's EV pure electric which i don't like either especially if ur a traveler and don't even own a house or with garage..... it doesn't make any sense at all, unless it's a SOLAR car - that would be an awesome one if ever it's gonna come to light...

  21. I am so disappointed with fuel economy. I've already driven 3200+ miles in my 2013 Rx450h and have never gotten above 25mpg and usually run around 23mpg. Some people will say "Who cares about fuel economy when you drive a $60,000 car". My response to that is why waste an additional $7000 or $8000 when one can get the same or better fuel economy with the Rx350 standard engine version? I really feel like I've been lied to.

  22. After 6500 miles (both highway and city), the RX450h is NOT getting anywhere near the mpg. I have intentionally used premium gas, driven slowly, used the energy meter, and attempted to maximize the gas mileage as best I could. Best results: 23.6 mpg.

    This is EXACTLY in line with the RX 350 Sport... which means DO NOT SPEND the extra $10-$15K for the hybrid WHEN IT IS NOT generating better gas mileage.

    PS: The car was inspected by the dealership to confirm that there is no issue with the car. It just isn't getting the gas mileage that was advertised.

  23. I have an AWD 2011 RX450h. With 30k miles on it I now average 28mpg. Mileage truly depends on your driving habits. Short trips (especially in hot SW Fl weather), and driving a lot on the freeway kills the mileage. If I visit Lakeland Fl, where the lights are well timed, and most speeds are 30 or 35mph, I easily get 32+ mpg. Driving in Ft Myers / Cape Coral where the main roads speed is 45mph, and traffic lights are not timed at all, I get 27 >29 mpg.

  24. I have a 2013 Lexus RX450h and also have complained about the disappointing gas milage to Lexus. They didn't have much to say. I wonder if we started a class action what they would say then?

  25. These V6 hybrids don't get the efficiency tune Atkinson cycle ICE. Apparently 0 to 60 mph has higher priority than efficiency. Seems like a redesign with more electric resources and an efficiency tuned 4cyl could really help gas mileage with a small hit on acceleration. Prius and camry hybrid are always better than conventional due to efficiency tuning of ICE.

  26. I get 30.3 mpg with my 2013 RX 450h, a mix of highway and city driving. But in winter here in cold New England I get about 28.7, still decent for an SUV in harsh northeast winters. I love my 2013 RX 450h and am very pleased with it all around!

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