Lexus has been in a position to offer the most popular luxury SUV since its introduction in 1998. My latest test car was such a vehicle, the RX450h hybrid model available since 2009. It came in Stargazer Black metallic paint and featured saddle tan leather seating for five.
This was a loaded RX, with an M.S.R.P. of $64,339, including freight. A multitude of options present included rain-sensing wipers, heated/air conditioned front buckets ($825), triple screen entertainment system ($4,920), heads-up display ($1,200), luxury package ($6,125), Mark Levinson 15-speaker 7.1 surround sound stereo ($995), intuitive parking assist ($500), and radar cruise control. The two expensive options also included voice command navigation system, backup camera, blind spot monitor, moon roof, heated steering wheel and 19” fifteen-spoke alloy wheels. The front buckets were sumptuous and supportive at the same time, and the three rear occupants that I had on board did no complaining. The LCD screens in front of each were capable of playing different entertainment, and heating/air conditioning ductwork to keep them comfortable was in abundance.
Ruth and I drove the RX north (Ault and Wellington) and south (Broomfield) and enjoyed the cruise control, which keeps the driver from running up upon another motorist, and the blind spot monitor, to prevent movement into an occupied lane. The stereo equipment is as advertised, and the navigation screen has options that are selected with the console-mounted mouse and mousepad.
Regarding the styling, it is what has made the RX so popular since its inception, in my opinion. It is Lexus’ top selling hybrid (the 450h), and in fact was the model that kicked off their entire hybrid line, including sedans. Hybrids, as you know, have at their heart a gasoline engine along with dual electric motor-generators. I have driven hybrids with 134 and 200 horsepower, and now have driven a machine with 295 (combined) horsepower – this RX. It’s a 3.5 liter V-6 with 24 variable-timed valves and is rated 30 mpg in the city. Coupled to it is a continuously variable gearless transmission with sport mode. I felt that acceleration was acceptable for a hybrid and I actually like the CV transmissions.
I started to discuss styling, and will continue by saying the car was an attractive upgrade to my driveway all week, plus fun to park and crawl out of. Lexus dresses up the side with the big chrome strip and “hybrid” lettering, and the wheels looked great. They were wrapped with Dunlop P235/55R19 Grand Trek Touring A/S all season radials. Of course the RX has LED lighting out front that glows at all times, bringing attention to the vehicle while out on the road. The “spindle” grill is upgraded for 2013, following the Lexus family theme. The 450 has a wheelbase of 107.9”, an overall length of 187.8”, is 74.2” wide, and weighs 4,652 lbs.
The RX450h seemed somewhat big to me (it has a big battery and fancy all-wheel drive train), but not ponderous. I can recognize why two of my friends in town recently purchased this Lexus model, and wouldn’t object to being an owner myself.