LEXUS RX 450h HYBRID REVIEW

2018 Lexus RX 450hL Sports Luxury
Lexus RX, a large SUV, has been a success for the premium Japanese marque since its launch in Australia in April 2003, consistently holding its own in sales numbers against its German and British rivals.

The current, fourth generation, RX has been here since November 2015 with the latest upgrade, in October 2019, adding new connectivity and safety features as well as improved driving dynamics.

There’s plenty of choice within the RX range with a total of 13 variants offering 2.0-litre turbo-petrol power in the RX 300; V6 petrol in the RX 350; and petrol / electric hybrid with the RX 450h.

The RX 300 is a five-seater with all higher specced models coming with the option of seven seats, identified by the ’L’ in the name and 110mm of extra length.

Within each grade there is the further choice of Luxury, Luxury +EP; F Sports and Sports Luxury.

Prices range from $71,290 for the RX 300 Luxury through to $111,070 for the RX 450 hL. On-road costs need to be added.

2015 Lexus RX 450h Sports Luxury

STYLING
Exterior styling features a curvaceous look that works rather nicely. The top corners of the redesigned radiator grille stretch out to almost touch the neat and slim headlights. The front bumper has also been tweaked and there are new alloy wheel designs.

The 2020 refresh includes LED headlights across the range and, in the F Sport and Sports Luxury variants, a new adaptive high-beam system (AHS) with what Lexus world-first “blade-scan” technology. More about this in our Safety report.

The cabin is ergonomically designed, with clear instrumentation and sensibly sized dials and buttons.

SAFETY
Lexus has an excellent safety record and the RX comes with a wide range of standard active and passive driver aides including autonomous emergency braking, radar active cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.

The new Blade-scan headlight technology utilises the reflection of light off front of the mirror to increase high-beam brightness and expand its reach down the road. It also more finely controls light distribution to achieve the most precise “shading” to avoid dazzling other drivers.

The system also allows drivers to recognise pedestrians much earlier while brighter and more focused light distribution enables improved illumination of hard-to-see areas such as road shoulders and road signs.

All-speed active cruise control is now linked with new lane-trace assist and road-sign assist.

2015 Lexus RX 450h Sports Luxury

Also new is a parking support brake system that uses intelligent clearance sonar and rear cross-traffic sensors to avoid or mitigate collisions that commonly occur during parking manoeuvres.

There are IsoFix child seat anchor points in the outer second row seats.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The entry level RX 300 comes with 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine with outputs of 175 kW and 350 Nm mated to a six-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. It only comes with seating for five. Fuel consumption is listed at 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

The RX 350 gets the 3.5-litre V6 with the extra thrust of 221 kW and 370 Nm, eight-speed auto transmission, all-wheel drive and the option of seven-seat capacity. Fuel usage as factory tested is 9.6 L/100km in the five-seater and 10.2 litres with the extra row.

The petrol-electric hybrid RX450h combines the V6 engine with a battery pack to provide 193 kW of power and 335 Nm of torque with AWD. Transmission is continuously variable with the official fuel consumption dropping to 5.7 L/100km (five-seat) and 6.0 (seven-seat).

We averaged 7.8 L/100 km during our week testing the five-seat hybrid.

INFOTAINMENT
All models now have a 12.3-inch screen (up from 8.0 inches in the previous RX300). Importantly it’s now a touchscreen providing a welcome alternative to the trackpad in the centre console which we’ve always found took too much time from watching the road ahead.

RX is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible in all grades and there are now six USB ports, four in the front and two in the second row. Higher spec models get wireless phone charging.

Bluetooth pairing is logical and fast.

DRIVING
Entry and exit is refreshingly easy and there was plenty of front headroom in our RX 450h despite the standard sunroof. Seats are comfortable but supportive.

On the road the RX450h is very smooth and supremely quiet, especially on roads that are in good condition where tyre and suspension noise is all-but inaudible. Rougher sealed roads do increase the incidence of tyre noise, though it’s still more than acceptable.

The engine is but a distant hum, and air rush over the body is minimal. You really do feel cocooned from the outside world when you travel in a car like this.

The driving dynamics of the Lexus RX have been improved with the addition of active cornering assist as well as re-tuned electric power steering and suspension.

We loved the feel of the wooden steering wheel.

Boot space is reasonable considering the steep slope of the rear window, but most others in this class give you more versatility when it comes to carrying boxy items. The rear seat has a handy 40:20:40 split to give you loading options.

SUMMING UP
The Lexus RX 450h ticked just about every box in this ageing tester’s check list. It has smooth and classy looks, plenty of interior space and provides an effortless driving experience for the longest of road trips. By driving all four wheels it can cope with mild off-road terrain.

The hybrid technology journey satisfies our green credentials with low fuel usage.

All Lexus models come with a four year/100,000km warranty and Drivecare road side assist with the handybonus of service pick-ups or loan cars.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
RX 300 Luxury: $71,920
RX 300 F Sport: $86,800
RX 300 Sports Luxury: $92,700
RX 350 Luxury: $81,890
RX 350 F Sport: $93,970
RX 350 Sports Luxury: $99,870
RX 450h Luxury: $91,090
RX 450h F Sport: $103,440
RX 450h Sports Luxury: $109,340
RX 350L Luxury: $85,000
RX 350L Sports Luxury: $101,600
RX 450hL Luxury: $94,470
RX 450hL Sports Luxury: $111,070
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus RX450h Luxury 3.5-litre petrol / electric hybrid five-door wagon)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 3.456 litres
Configuration: V6
Maximum Power: 193 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 335 Nm @ 4600 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 131 g/km

DRIVELINE: Continuously variable automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4890 mm
Wheelbase: 2729 mm
Width: 1895 mm
Height: 1685 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 2105 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: Not supplied

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Four years / 100,000 kilometres

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