The Lexus RX 450h is the hybrid offering in the very popular mid-sized RX SUV range. A major update in 2016 introduced some edgy styling features as well as a much-improved interior.
2017 sees less of a drastic update although a range of new safety items are fitted as standard.
The seats offer comfortable accommodation for up to five adults and the material quality is up to the high standards that Lexus has set in this class.
The controls are laid out in a logical fashion and the only real gripe is with the infotainment system which uses a frustrating remote touch controller that is less intuitive than rival systems.
Trunk space is slightly below average for the class and that angled roofline does hamper the loading of larger items.
The RX450h puts in a good showing when it comes to the ride and handling department, base models tend to be less adept at taking corners enthusiastically but the F Sport trim resolves this issue with adaptive damper that both improve handling ability and soften the ride quality.
There are no complaints in everyday driving situations where the hybrid drivetrain manages its various modes without any noticeable hesitation although the throttle response does vary depending on which powerplant is providing the motive power at the time.
The cabin remains quiet over most surfaces and the overall refinement levels are up there with the best SUVs in this class.
The RX450h is fitted with a 259 horsepower, 247 lb-ft of torque 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors at each axle that add up to produce a total of 308 hp. Power is sent to all-four wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission and performance levels are good for a hybrid SUV, matching the gasoline powered RX 350 while still offering improved fuel efficiency.
That 0-60mph time of 7.7-seconds is good going and the RX feels lively in most driving conditions. The RX450h’s additional cost over the gasoline model may still never be recouped but the city/highway consumption numbers of 30/28 mpg are rather impressive and compare well to the AWD RX350 variant which only manages 19/26 mpg. Electric-only progress is also possible although any demands for meaningful acceleration will see the gasoline engine come into play.
The RX450h is offered in base and F Sport trims, the base model gets 18-inch alloys, power front seats with heating and ventilation, auto wipers, LED exterior lighting, leather upholstery, rearview camera keyless entry and a power liftgate. An 8-inch display with Bluetooth connectivity and a 12-speaker audio system is also standard.
Safety specifications have received a boost for 2017 as the Lexus Safety System + is now part of the standard package and includes lane departure control, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and auto high beams.
F Sport Trim adds adaptive suspension, lower ride height, 20-inch wheels, unique interior details and an engine noise enhancer.
A Rear-seat Entertainment Package adds dual-screen rear-seat screens and wireless headphones.
A Luxury Package offers 20-inch wheels, upgraded driver’s seat, upgraded leather interior, rain-sensing wipers, rear armrest storage compartment, manual rear-door sunshades, illuminated door sills, heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, roof rails, upgraded interior finishes and electrochromic outside mirrors.
A Navigation Package can be had on its own or paired with a Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package and both include a 12.3-inch multimedia display with remote touch controller, in-dash DVD player and a climate control smog sensor.
A Cold Weather Package as well as standalone items like head-up display and park assist are also available.
The 2017 Lexus RX450h may look edgy and sporty on the outside but the interior and the driving experience are as shoppers have come to expect of the brand. This means serene progress in a high-quality cabin along with class-leading refinement.
The added efficiency of the hybrid powertrain may appeal to many consumers and that steep asking price does include a very comprehensive range of standard equipment too.