With extensive improvements for the 2016 model year, the Lexus RX 450h gains considerable ground, enough I would guess to tempt some buyers who would otherwise shop for an SUV in the $40,000 range.
The tested RX 450h started at $52,235 and was dressed up with significant extras that pushed the bottom line to $61,420.
Yes, that’s a serious investment. Unless money is no object, I look at this hybrid SUV as a 10-year commitment, minimum.
The latest-generation RX has been freshly sculpted to deliver a sporty punch to the eyes.
The front end in particular has an angular, imposing grille opening that would look totally at home on the snout of a great white shark.
The roofline flows smoothly off a long, sharply raked windshield, and the whole package rides on 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels as standard. For the record, 20-inch wheels can be had on the RX.
Artfully arranged LED lights on the front and rear round out the package.
This visual feast is backed up by a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine working with an electric
Lexus Hybrid Drive
system to produce more than 300 horsepower. Matched to an electronically controlled
continuously variable transmission, the tested RX showed its muscle on daily
commutes and was surprisingly agile on city streets.
Runs in the Sierra Nevada foothills
were a heart-pumping blast, given the tester’s precisely tuned suspension.
Inside, five passengers have plenty of room to spread out, with lots of open space remaining for their cargo. Total interior volume is 139.7 cubic feet. With rear seats folded, cargo capacity is 55.9 cubic feet.
Towing capacity, with a proper hitch, is 3,500 pounds.
From the cockpit, the numerous perks are easily reached and operated. Ten-way power, leather-trimmed front seats; a power tilt/telescoping steering column; power-folding, heated exterior mirrors; a moonroof; and aluminum roof rails were just a few of the standard offerings on the tested SUV.
The extensive list of opulent extras on the tested RX included power-folding, heated rear seats; a color heads-up display; a touch-free power rear door; and a massive, 12.3-inch multimedia display.
The hybrid system delivers 31 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, pretty good numbers given the vehicle’s size and generally admirable pop.
Some reviewers have complained that the RX powertrain lacks quick response and adequate oomph. I had no problems along those lines.
With the full understanding that this reworked RX is beyond many household budgets, I can say that the vehicle is nicely positioned between relatively loaded, entry-level crossover SUVs and the luxo SUV models that are the playground of the comparatively rich.
If you can afford to splurge a bit on a well-equipped SUV, this RX deserves a look.