Test Drive Notes Library
- Cushy. Cushy is where Lexus started out, and Cushy is the land in which the RX still rules. If you’re looking for a soft, isolated experience, you’ll find it in the Lexus RX. There are no nods to “feeling the road” here. You feel the uber-soft seats. The road is a vague memory. With the windows up, it’s very quiet inside. Lexus set out to isolate its passengers from the stain of American's transportation infrastructure, and if that’s what you’re looking to do, your SUV is here.
- Powerful. In the hybrid 450h, Lexus adds a 49 hp electric motor to its 259 hp tuned 3.5L V6 for a total of 308 hp. That’s enough to move this hulk nicely. The electric torque makes stop and go driving a snap, and hard acceleration is pretty good, too. More importantly, the powertrain delivers an EPA rated 29 mpg, which is pretty damn impressive for a three row SUV. We never quite saw 29, but even the 27 we got was impressive.
- Smooth hybrid drivetrain. The power is delivered seamlessly. You really don’t feel the switch from electric motor to gasoline engine. Although you do hear it (see below).
- Impeccably dressed. The interior of the RX 450h is high class. Materials are good, surfaces are almost all soft to the touch. Fit and finish are excellent. It gives the vibe of being well-made. And Lexus’ reputation for reliability indicates that what you see and feel is largely what you get. The infotainment screen is huge and well placed, at the top of the dashboard, close to the driver’s line of sight.
- Second row comfort. Our RX 450h came with captain’s chairs in the second row. While not quite as spacious as a minivan’s second row, the “back seats” of the RX are pretty easy places to park yourself for a long ride. There is an “emergency” third row of seats in the back, but try to avoid it if you’re tall enough to go on any rides at DisneyWorld.
- Safety (mostly) standard. The hybrid RX 450h comes standard with all of the modern safety features that Car Talk recommends to its listeners and readers, except for blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, which will cost you an extra, and unfortunately, necessary $1,865.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Engine noise. This really surprised us. Since Lexus’ “brand” is quiet isolation, the somewhat harsh drone of the gasoline engine was a disappointment. It’s silent in electric mode. But like we said above, you don’t so much feel the gasoline engine come on as hear it when it kicks in. It’s not terribly loud, but it’s a bit of an ear-sore in an otherwise quiet interior. And if you’re a person who likes to drive with your windows open (which we know fewer people are these days), it’s quite a bit worse.
- Soft handling. The RX’s handling has a wallowy, ocean-going quality on turns. Driven slowly and serenely, it does fine. But on any kind of curvy roadway, it’s softness induced a bit of sea-sicknesses for some of us.
- Heavy. The RX 450h weighs in at nearly 4,800 pounds. And it feels heavy. This is most noticeable during braking, when it feels like it would prefer to just keep going. It always seemed to take a little more brake force than we expected to bring to a final stop.
- Cargo space. If you plan to use the third row of seats regularly, you might want to consider something a little bigger. First of all, the third row seats are barely adequate, and second, they eat up most of the cargo room. With the rear seats folded away, you’ll do fine.
- Screen controls. As we’ve mentioned ad-nauseum in our other reviews of Lexus products, we’re not fans of the touch pad controllers. We find them awkward, inaccurate, and distracting, as they require you to take your eyes off the road for too long to operate.
- Nitpick. Where’s the wireless charging, Lexus? Do you expect us to carry around wires and cables, like animals?
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