The fourth generation of Lexus’ mid-sized SUV has an aggressive new look, larger and plusher interior than its predecessor and a range of engine types including the 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol, a 3.5 litre V6 and 3.5 litre V6 Hybrid. We test drove the Lexus RX 450h Luxury, which is the entry level hybrid.
- The stately handling is smooth and is incredibly quiet, particularly when the electric motors are doing the work. Despite being a big car it feels nimble around town but has the smooth ride and creature comforts to make long drives pleasant.
- The city is also where the hybrid technology earns its keep fuel wise. The combined fuel economy rating of 5.7L/100km compares incredibly well to the 9.6L/100km of the petrol-only alternative, the Lexus RX350. The RX450h also has one of the lowest CO2 outputs of any SUV.
- RX450h is brimming with active safety technology which makes you feel like you have a co-pilot, including radar cruise control, automatic lane keeping, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and collision detection. The satellite navigation also warns you about upcoming hazards including fixed speed cameras, school zones and railway crossings.
- The interior is beautifully appointed and comfortable with lots of soft leather and gadgetry that looks good and is generally in the right places. It all seems to be a direct lift from the premium Lexus GS sedan though the extra height gives it a more commanding feel.
- The seats are very comfortable with automatic heating and cooling and a heap of electric adjustments which you can pre-set when you finally attain the perfect position. The back seats are cozy and fold down to provide a reasonably sized cargo area.
- The entertainment system includes digital radio that sounds epic through the 12-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. Bluetooth syncs quickly and reconnects instantly when you start the car.
- Some may consider its exterior appearance a weakness, but it’s a grower that gets better the more you look at it. It will still divide opinion, which will make some people like it more. The colour can be a big factor.
- The hybrid version isn’t cheap with a starting price of around $97,000 drive away. That’s about $16,000 more than the entry level 2.0 petrol turbo RX200t and $8000 more than the gutsy V6-powered RX350. For another $4000 you can get RX350 F Sport, which has a few more features inside and extra performance via Sports + and customised driving modes. It’s the pick of the range.
- Fuel economy isn’t as great on the open highway, as the hybrid system shuts off and the somewhat thirsty V6 petrol engine does all the work. Potential buyers lucky enough to commute at 100km/h may be better served by conventionally powered RX models.
- The screen controls are a little cumbersome and fiddly.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The Audi Q7 and BMW X5 turbo diesel models offer similar fuel economy and luxury for around the same price. However they don’t have all the options found in the Lexus as standard. BMW’s 3.3L/100km sipping hybrid xDrive 40e will set you back around $130,000.