Kent Life road test: Lexus RX 450h

A powerful SUV with the green credentials of a Ford Focus? The third generation Lexus RX 450h takes on the diesels with hybrid power

Kent Life road test: Lexus RX 450h

A powerful SUV with the green credentials of a Ford Focus? The third generation Lexus RX 450h takes on the diesels with hybrid power

This Lexus RX is the second generation of the model to snub diesel power in preference of Toyota’s clever hybrid system. It’s a complicated drivetrain, but the basics are these: a 246bhp 3.5 litre V6 is mated to an electric motor producing around 165bhp. Together, these are chiefly responsible for putting power to the front wheels, and at the back is another 67bhp electric motor driving the rears. All three together put a shade under 300bhp to the wheels, making the RX good for a 7.8 second dash to 60mph.

It’s not as quick as many rivals, but if you’re concerned about the environment, and you simply must have a 4X4, this is probably the one to go for. While the fuel efficiency is about on a par with diesel engines, the emission levels will sell it to many. 145g/km puts it in the �120 tax disc bracket, which is just a fiver more than most of the Ford Focus range. Pretty impressive stuff for an SUV weighing more than two tonnes.

It’s even better around town – at slow speeds and under gentle acceleration, the V6 won’t kick in at all. You can cruise happily around town in eerie silence on battery power alone, and a prod on the throttle wakes up the petrol engine immediately.

So it’s clever, then. Smart-looking, too. The RX has had its fair share of revisions and facelifts over its lifetime, but it’s still looking fresh.             Inside, the interior is perhaps the RX’s party piece – it exudes expense and luxury from all angles. Choice of materials and their fit and finish is flawless too – there’s really no cheap plastic or corner-cutting to be seen.

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It’s a similar story on the road. Clearly the RX is far from being sporty, but for its size it holds its weight decently in the corners. Lexus says that the suspension has been tuned for European roads, and it shows. The steering could do with a little more feel in it, but there’s not much in the way of body roll; it’s a very collected drive for a heavy car.

All but the base model have air suspension, which can feel a little rough around town, but on the open road it’s a smooth, flowing ride. There’s very little in the way of tyre and wind noise either, and with the super-smooth petrol V6, you’ll have no trouble hearing the kids complaining in the back.

In terms of gadgets, it’s a Lexus so the sky’s the limit. Standard equipment is very good – you get a nine-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and everything you’d expect to be wrapped in wood or leather, has been. There’s a good extras list too, so if you feeling a little flush, there’s plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Bad points? Not many, really. The settings and navigation interface is a little fiddly, and at �44,530 for the base model and �61,055 for the top spec it’s not cheap, especially compared to rivals like Land Rover’s TDV6 Discovery. Depreciation should be manageable though, and the reliability will give you peace of mind for decades.

Whatever your opinion on SUVs, there’s really no denying the RX’s green credentials. If you’re concerned for the environment, your road tax bill or you just want reliable luxury and plenty of space, the RX makes sound sense.

Lexus RX 450h

Price: from �44,530

Performance: 0-62mph: 7.8 sec

Economy: 44.8mpg (combined)

CO2: 145g/km

Engine: 3.5litre V6

Gearbox: CVT auto

Contact details: 01892 700 400

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