You probably forgot there was a vehicle involved in this project. I didn’t. Let’s talk about it.
Let me start by setting things up for you. Lexus is still selling the fourth-generation RX that was introduced in late 2015 as a 2016 model. I should know since I was there for the media drive when the vehicle reached showrooms. Since then, I had four RXs, including a three-row L model.
This is my second RX hybrid of this generation – both of which were the two-row version. As I pointed out, this one is a very special version – the Black Line Special Edition.
Similar to the NX 300h F Sport Black Line Special Edition, this RX had darkened chrome finishes, blacked-out wheels, with blue stitching inside. Lexus will be producing 1,000 RX Black Line models, including 250 hybrid versions. If you are lucky to get one of these, they will come with a set of Zero Halliburton luggage arriving separately to your home.
What could I say about the RX 450h F Sport Black Line Special Edition that has not been said already?
First of all, that color! Celestial Blue is a unique color for the Black Line Special Edition (NOTE: the sticker said Celestial Blue, it is supposed to be Grecian Water…anyway…). This is a sad fact that we cannot get this color on any other RX in the lineup. It makes this angular SUV pop. I had people compliment the color on this tester.
Since we are talking about the RX F Sport, may I suggest to Lexus that Ultrasonic Blue Mica would be an awesome color for this SUV? Just a suggestion, folks…
Honestly, I am not crazy about the blacked out wheels against this color. Maybe a darker chrome or a satin-finished silver would work better, The 20-inch wheel design is awesome, however. The bonus on this wheel design are the large vent holes for better brake breathing.
The last detail on this RX’s exterior is a black applique on the lower rocker panels. I’m also on the fence with this detail, but I suppose it works for this special edition.
The interior color scheme is on point. You have mostly black NuLuxe perforated upholstery with white trim and blue stitching all over. The seats are heavily bolstered in the cushion, which will give way for us with wider posteriors. Seatbacks are fine with enough bolstering to lock me in. Rear seat room is fantastic, as is the cargo space.
Before I go on, I want to point out that the F Sport trim would be the only one I would select on any RX. Luckily for me, the F Sport is only available in the two-row version.
With that said, selecting the hybrid model over the normal V6 will deselect a few things from what makes an F Sport the coolest RX of them all. Sadly, my tester was not equipped with the available Handling Package, which includes the Sport S+ setting. You do get a Sport setting, which remaps the driveline with an emphasis on the 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine on heavier throttle situations.
There are multiple electric motors drawing energy from a battery pack. Energy recovery is through the regenerative braking system, which makes the RX 450h very efficient overall. Even with a total system rating of 308 horsepower, I was able to get up to 30.0 MPG with an average of around 27.5 MPG overall. Honestly, it could have done better.
The driving experience was definitely luxurious, but I was hoping for some of that F Sport magic to come through. The ride was smooth and absorbent, and the handling was controlled. Cornering and evasive maneuvers yielded some minimal roll and lean.
The steering set is very good with a sharp turning radius and solid on-center feel. Even with regenerative braking, you do not feel any lag when stopping this RX 450h F Sport Black Line Special Edition. Pedal feel was solid, and the stops were good in both normal and panic situations.
This 2021 Lexus RX 450h F Sport Black Line Special Edition arrived with a sticker price of $59,380. Pricing starts for the RX 450h F Sport at $51,400.
If I switched over the RX 350 F Sport, then your starting price point is $47,800 for a front-drive model. However, I went ahead and configured an ideal RX 350 F Sport with all-wheel-drive and the Handling Package for my own indulgence. That build came out to $62,545. Hmmm…maybe I should play the lottery…
You can see why I have a soft spot for the Lexus RX in the F Sport trim. You could call me a “fan boy” all you want, but this comes from professional experience. It also comes with working with a brand for 10 years that has delivered a level of vehicle that inspires the imagination with great returns.
In all, if you like being unique or love owning a rare special edition, this RX will not disappoint. However, if just you want a sporty mid-size two-row SUV that can deliver the luxury every time you drive, your choice should be the Lexus RX.
After all, I could not think of any vehicle that would be a great companion for a project such as Victory & Reseda X Lexus.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Toyota Motor North America
All photos by Randy Stern