Lexus RX SUV
- Loads of standard equipment
- Excellent reliability
- Top-notch safety
- Quite expensive
- Ride is firm on top-spec models
- More desirable rivals available for less
"Comfortable, smooth and well equipped, the hybrid-engined Lexus RX 450h is a top luxury 4x4 that's reliable to boot. It's quite expensive though."
The Lexus RX 450h majors on comfort and quality, offering a quiet drive and lots 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 both plenty of power and superb fuel economy, emissions and running costs.
Across the range, the interior is luxurious, with enough space for five adults, loads of practical storage spaces and plenty of room for luggage. The latest facelift has added a sportier F Sport specification, which is Lexus’ answer to the Audi Q7 S line Plus 3.0-litre TDI quattro.
The RX 450h is quite expensive, though, which somewhat cancels out the low running costs, and its resale values aren't very strong, either.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Impressive, but hardly economical
Claimed running costs are impressive for a car the size of the RX 450h. Lexus reckons that it'll 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 will keep your annual road tax bill low, but the insurance grouping of 40-41 is pretty high.
Engines, drive & performance
Electric motors give a performance boost
The Lexus RX 450h has a powerful 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine connected to two electric motors (one driving the front axle, the other charging the batteries) that help cut emissions and improve economy. The combination produces 295bhp, which gets the Lexus from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds – impressive for such a large 4x4. It's speedy in a straight line, but rivals like the Volkswagen Touareg and Land Rover Discovery 4 have more precise and weighty steering.
Interior & comfort
Well insulated but a little firm
If you drive around town at low speeds, then Lexus RX 450h will use electric power only for totally silent progress. It has a range of 1.6 miles in this mode, 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 noisier, though. The suspension feels a little firm, especially on the F Sport model, but even the lower-spec versions are a bit harsh when the road gets bumpy. This makes the Lexus a lot of work on country roads, as it gets unsettled over bumps instead of soaking them up.
Practicality & boot space
Spacious and comfortable
The RX 450h seems to have solved the common hybrid problem of the battery eating into boot space. The Lexus' rear battery is mounted beneath the boot floor, so there's no intrusion into the luggage area, which can hold 446 litres.
The rear seats fold in 40:20:40 configuration, which increases the car's flexibility and boosts space to 825 litres. They also slide back and forth to maximise legroom or boot space as necessary. The F Sport and Premier models have 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, plus there's a massive area under the centre console.
Reliability & safety
One of the best for reliability
Ten airbags, electronic stability control and extra-tough laminated side glass are all standard, while the top-of-the-range RX 450h Premiere has adaptive cruise control (which 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 brand was named the number-two manufacturer in the Driver Power 2014 owner satisfaction survey speaks volumes. Warranty on the RX 450h is three years or 60,000 miles.
Price, value for money & options
Expensive compared to rivals
Next to rival 4x4s, the RX 450h looks pricey. However, the trade-off is that the RX 450h returns better fuel economy and is cheaper to tax. Equipment is on par with rivals, with a Bluetooth phone connection, leather seats and a proximity key and start button standard across the range.
Higher-spec models are fitted with LEDs, a DAB digital radio and adaptive cruise control. Lexus doesn’t offer loads of optional extras, instead trying to get you to upgrade to the next trim level for more kit. But this is good for resale, as generally cars with lots of extras don’t hold their value as well as desirable high-spec models.