The Luxury SUV market is often dominated by the 2 big players; Mercedes Benz and BMW. Sure, there are the likes of Audi, but in all fairness either of the two mentioned above can be found if you peep around a corner literally anywhere you go. Rightfully so though, they build fantastic SUV’s and I love driving them, but there is just something in driving cars that are not as common, call it your niche brands and, yes, I’m talking about Lexus; the prestige brand from the Toyota Corporation.
Look, I’m really fascinated by hybrids and electric cars. Times have moved on and clearly the future is heading towards electricity, which is great, and there are very few hybrids that are as sophisticated and smooth as the Lexus Hybrid range. I loved the GS450H we sampled last year, as well as this one, which is newer and has obviously been improved upon.
The RX450H, which we have just spent a week with, features a 3.5l V6 with a total engine and battery output of 220kw. It features not one, but two electric motors; one for the front axle and one for the rear, as this is an all-wheel drive vehicle. The CVT box is typically Lexus and it’s smooth as silk; the added performance over the RX350 is nearly unnoticed, but it is in fact quicker to 100kph and it will do this dash in 7.8seconds – figures which are really irrelevant in this segment as this model was really never intended to win robot races. It does, however, get up and go when the need arises.
The fuel consumption figures for the RX450H is actually surprising and, as I expected, it really does its best figures in stop/start type scenarios, where you can take advantage of the electric assistance. On the open road you can expect about 9.5l/100km at the speed limit and 7l/100kph at 95/100kph. The biggest influence on fuel consumption is load on the engine, such as hills and mountain passes but all things considered, this RX450H is seriously impressive for such a big vehicle.
Jump into the driver seat and you notice that everything is in a functional place. There is ample cubby space and compartments are strewn everywhere. Form and functionality was clearly at high priority with the design. The rear seats have a ton of leg room, even with the front seats set as far back as possible, which are both 10 way adjustable, set nearly all the way to the back. The rear also has a completely flat floor, making the middle seat actually very useful. Another added piece of comfort is that they recline to a rather impressive angle. Rear luggage space however is not as big as some of its rivals, but still a decent 446L. The rear seats also flip forward for added space.
The Mark Levinson 15 speaker audio system is definitely a highlight of the vehicle. The sound is distortion-free all the way to the max volume and will really shake the mirrors. It’s really impressive for a stock setup. I wish all cars were fitted with an ML system.
There are 10 airbags in the Lexus RX450H and even features a passenger knee airbag, which is uncommon in most cars. There are also things like keyless entry and park distance control, most of these features, which are expected of a vehicle in the price range.
The RX450H is a premium niche vehicle that’s extremely surefooted on the road with low road noise, even though it’s running on some lovely 19” alloy wheels. I really like how they integrated the interior with a lot of premium Aniline leather and wood grain on the steering wheel. The vehicle really feels premium and attracts a lot of attention on the road.
The RX450H SE retails from R 877 700
For more info http://lexus.co.za/models/rx450h