According to a recent Carzone survey of over 1,500 Irish motorists, 70 percent of us plan to buy an electric or hybrid car in the near future. The large and luxurious Lexus RX has pioneered hybrid technology for over a decade now, and the new model promises improvements in all areas, including styling, drive and comfort.
Prices for the five-seater RX start from €78,580, while the larger seven seat RXL will set you back around €85k. Rivals to include the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90 amongst many others, and it is worth mentioning that many of its rivals are now available in plug-in-hybrid guise.
Ok, you will have to look very closely to notice the styling differences from the outgoing model. Most notably, there’s a new front grille design, reshaped lights and bumpers and new wheel choices too. The Lexus RX does stand out from other luxury SUVs in the class too, if that’s your thing.
Lexus is known for building quality interiors and the RX delivers in this regard. The cabin feels incredibly classy when you sit inside and everything feels premium to the touch, with chunky controls, leather upholstery throughout, and yes, even an old-school analogue clock! The 12.3-inch screen is now a touch screen and it can be operated with the Lexus touchpad, although it is a bit fiddly to use and not as impressive as some of the systems you get in German rivals. The good news however is that it now comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which is a much better combination with a smartphone.
The RX offers a commanding view of the road and you really get the sense of being raised from behind the wheel. The seats offer armchair like comfort, with a wide range of adjustment and our test car has optional heated seats, which is a must for Irish drivers. Passenger space is very good with lots of head room and leg room for five passengers on long journeys, though boot space could be better at 453 litres in size due to the presence of the batteries in the rear of the car. The larger seven-seater RXL has a much larger 652 litre boot however with five seats in place.
The RX 450h pairs a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with two electric motors for a combined power output of 313 horsepower. It is surprisingly fast for a large SUV, with 0-100km/h taking just 7.7 seconds and it will go on to a top speed of over 200km/h, though the CVT automatic transmission needs to work hard. It is worth mentioning that the RX isn’t a true off road SUV either, even though it can offer all wheel drive with the electric motor sending power to the rear wheels.
The RX isn’t about performance or power though, it is best enjoyed driven with a relaxed style. The RX is most refined and economical during urban driving, where the hybrid system alternates seamlessly between petrol and electric power. Wind and road noise is kept to a minimum, while there are several driving modes to choose from. This is an SUV that you could cover huge driving distances and feel completely refreshed getting out of it at the end of the day.
There are four specifications to choose from with Executive, F Sport, Luxury and Premium. Standard spec is strong with triple LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, smartphone integration with Apple Car Play and Android Auto and leather upholstery. It scores well in terms of safety too with a whole host of safety tech as standard. Our test car is the higher specification Luxury model and gains nice extras such as l 20-inch alloy wheels and an electric tailgate.
With more motorists considering alternative electric and hybrid SUVs, the updated Lexus RX will ultimately be of interest to premium SUV buyers. It’s phenomenally comfortable and refined to drive, with a well-built interior and lots fxs standard safety tech. The RX’s updated infotainment system doesn’t impress like its rivals, and it isn’t available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain as of yet. That said, if you’re looking for a comfortable and efficient large SUV then it’s definitely one to shortlist.