Lexus introduced the world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle — a gas/electric RX- – more than a decade ago. The new RX 450h introduced today in this column is a perfect reflection of the hybrid leader position cemented by its first generation predecessor.
The new RX is powered by Lexus Hybrid Drive. The D4-S 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine is partnered with two high-torque drive motor-generators for strong acceleration and passing performance. The energy to these motors is fed by a nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack.
The engine output is regulated through an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) with paddle shifters. Everything added together, the drivetrain is good for 308 horsepower and a 0-60 sprint time of 7.9 seconds. This 4,740-pound (curb weight) luxury SUV achieves that while keeping the rated fuel economy up at 30/28/30 mpg city/highway/combined.
Instead of transfer gears and driveshaft to the rear wheels, the AWD system employs a second independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed, to reduce complexity and weight.
The interior is centered by the 8-inch (also available in 12.3 inch high-resolution) Lexus Multimedia System touchscreen with remote touchpad, and the 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display (MID) in the gauge cluster.
The 9-speaker infotainment system provides support for technologies like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. All those plus six USB ports expand the entertainment and communication venues.
Admittedly, I could have navigated the different technologies easier by use of buttons or knobs as opposed to the touchpad. But I also understand that when offering such an abundance of sophisticated entertainment, information, and communication features, there can’t be enough physical knobs and buttons. The current situation is way too challenging, though, while hindering me from successfully accomplishing certain tasks.
The RX interior is beautiful. The stunningly NuLuxe trimmed power front seats, power tilt/telescopic steering column, reclining/sliding 40/20/40 split folding rear seat, and power liftgate accommodate folks and cargo with comfort.
Outside, rain sensing wipers, daytime running lights, LED taillights, illuminated door handles, and LED headlights not only make the RX lovelier but safer.
Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is the standard safety package, and it includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection that can see pedestrians and cyclists in daytime and low-light conditions, Road Sign Assist which reads signs using a built-in camera, Lane Tracing Assist, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam, and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
The F Sport package adds several handling and appearance features to make the vehicle more aggressive. The unique grille and bumper design, F Sport badging, and 20-inch wheels distinguishes the F Sport model from the standard with one glance. F Sport tuned performance dampers improves the driving dynamics.
Optional Adaptive Variable Suspension is designed to reduce noise and vibration from the road. In the turn, Active Corner Assist helps prevent oversteering by applying brakes on individual wheels as needed. This provides more stability in vehicle handling. Rigidity, I am told by engineers, is achieved through additional spot welds and adhesive.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $51,520 for the RX 450h F Sport AWD. There are nearly a dozen optional features available with the RX 450h.
I would recommend the $200 Cold Weather Package featuring windshield wiper deicer and fast response interior heater.
The beautiful and purposeful Navigation/Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package brings the famed audio brand’s sound through 15 speakers. This $3,365 add-on also adds a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation, Lexus Enform Destination Assist, and climate-control smog sensor.
4 years/50,000 miles Basic Warranty
6 years/70,000 miles Powertrain Warranty
6 years/unlimited mileage Corrosion Perforation Warranty
8 years/100,000 miles Hybrid Component Warranty
10 years/150,000 miles Hybrid Battery Warranty
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or email@example.com.