"Comfortable, smooth and well equipped; the hybrid-engined Lexus RX 450h is a top luxury 4x4 and reliable to boot. It is quite expensive though."
The Lexus RX450h majors on comfort and quality, offering a quiet drive with high levels of standard equipment. The hybrid system uses a 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine and a pair of electric motors. This means that there's plenty of power while offering superb economy, emissions and running costs. Across the range, the interior is luxurious, with enough space for five adults, loads of practical space and room for luggage. The latest facelift has brought a sportier F Sport specification, which is Lexus’ answer to the Audi Q7 S Line Plus 3.0 TDI quattro. The RX 450h is quite expensive, though, which somewhat cancels out any reduced running costs, and its resale value isn’t very strong either.
The Lexus RX 450h has a powerful 3.5-litre V6 engine connected to two electric motors (one driving the front axle, the other on the rear to charge the batteries) that help cut emissions and improve economy. There's 295bhp available, which gets the Lexus from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds, which is impressive for a large 4x4. It's speedy in a straight line, but rivals like the Volkswagen Touareg and the Land Rover Discovery 4 offer steering with more weight and precision.
If you drive around town at low speeds, then Lexus RX450h will use electric power only for totally silent progress. It has a range of 1.6 miles, and it doesn't make much noise when the engine kicks in, either, as the interior is well insulated. When you put your foot down, it does get a bit noisier though. The suspension feels a little firm, especially on the F Sport model, but even the lower spec versions feel a little harsh when the road gets bumpy. This makes it a lot of work on country roads as it's unsettled over bumps instead of soaking them up.
Ten airbags, electronic stability control and extra tough, laminated side glass all come as standard, while the top-of-the-range RX450h Premiere comes with adaptive cruise control that monitors the distance between you and the car in front, as well as a pre-crash safety system that senses an impact and prepares the car for a shunt before it happens. Build quality and reliability have always been strong points for Lexus, and the fact the firm was named the number two manufacturer in the Auto Express Driver Power survey speaks volumes. Warranty on the RX 450h is three years or 60,000 miles.
The RX 450h seems to have conquered the common hybrid issue of the battery eating into boot space. The Lexus' rear battery is mounted beneath the boot floor, so there's no apparent reduction of space. That means that there's a 446 litres of space available. The rear seats fold in 40/20/40 configuration, which increases the car's flexibility and boosts the boot to 825 litres. They also slide back and forth to maximise legroom or boot space where necessary. The F Sport and Premier models come with an automatically opening bootlid as standard, which makes loading even easier. Interior storage areas are plentiful and the front armrest has a couple of cubby-holes inside, as well as a massive area under the centre console.
Value for money
Next to rival 4x4s, the RX 450h looks pricey. However, the trade-off is that the RX 450h has class-leading 20 per cent lower economy and cheaper road tax. Equipment levels are on par with rivals, with a Bluetooth connection, leather seats, proximity key and start button across the range. Higher spec models are fitted with LEDs, DAB radio and adaptive cruise control. Lexus doesn’t offer loads of optional extras, instead trying to get you to buy the next spec level up. But this is good for resale, as cars with extras don’t hold value as well as higher-spec models.
Claimed running costs are impressive for a car the size of the RX 450h. Lexus reckons that it will return 44.8mpg on average, which is better than any diesel or petrol BMW X5, Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery 4 or VW Touareg. Emissions of 148g/km keep Road Tax costs low, but an insurance group of 40-41 is pretty high.