Lexus RX 4×4 (2009- ) review
Read the Lexus RX (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.8 The Lexus RX combines the usual Lexus luxury with hybrid technology to create a 4x4 package few can rival.
- Impressive performance
- Spacious interior
- Environmentally friendly
- Battery pack restricts boot space
- Disappointing cabin
- Lacks drivability of rivals
At a glance
The original Lexus RX 4×4 was rather handsome, but a bit of a wallflower, but its replacement is the complete opposite. Few could call it pretty, but it certainly stands out, if not always for the right reasons. It’s immediately identifiable as a Lexus hybrid, with its chrome trimmings and silver and blue badging.
It’s a little more conventional in the cabin, but although built to an impeccable standard, it doesn’t make you feel as special as when you’re sat in either a
BMW X5 or
Mercedes ML. The command screen will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a Lexus, or an upmarket
Toyota, and works slickly and intuitively. Lexus has moved the iDrive-type interface used to operate ancillary controls to the next level, with an ergonomically-designed ‘mouse’. It takes a little getting used to, but works very well.
The Lexus RX 450h should offer plenty of space for most owners, but its 496 litre boot lags behind its rivals because of the location of the battery packs beneath the boot floor. There’s lots of space for occupants too, and the rear seats slide back and forth to maximise leg room of boot space. Visibility is good thanks to large mirrors.
Ride and handling
Don’t expect Ford Kuga or BMW X5 levels of driving dynamics – the Lexus RX is far too soft for that. The steering lacks the feedback of some of its rivals, but it’s easy to place on the road, and very easy to drive around town. Lexus has tuned the suspension for European tastes, but there’s still evidence of body roll through the bends – surprising for an unashamedely on-road off-roader. The option of a self-levelling air suspension system is available, and may help to address the issues we found with our coil sprung version.
Under the bonnet sits a 3.5-litre petrol engine, developing 246bhp, but the key to the oomph are its electric motors, which deliver the equivalent of 174bhp through the front wheels and 67bhp through the rears. That adds up to a 7.8 second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 148mph – rapid progress for a large SUV. The second generation hybrid technology features three driving modes – Eco, EV and Snow – which strike different balances between economy and performance. The EV mode allows the car to be driven gently under 30mph using its battery alone for around a mile.
The £40,000 asking price puts the Lexus RX 450h against some serious opposition, but its comparatively tiny emissions of 148g/km – unheard of in this class – mean far smaller tax bills, without the need to sacrifice performance or comfort. Lexus claim an average fuel consumption figure of 44.8mpg, although we struggled to register 40mpg during our test in congested cities and free-flowing country lanes.
Lexus is a paragon of reliability, and even through it features the latest hybrid technology, we predict few problems with the RX 4×4.
The Lexus RX 450h hasn’t been put through the Euro NCAP crash test programme, but should perform well thanks to a high level of safety equipment. Standard kit includes 10 airbags and whiplash-reducing active headrests. Choose a higher-spec model and Lexus’ pre-crash safety system comes as standard. This applies the brakes – or increases the drivers’ braking input – to avoid collisions.
Four models are available in the Lexus RX 450h range: SE, SE-I SE-L and SE-L Premier. The SE features a multi-function steering wheel, front and rear park sensors, cruise control, 18-inch alloys, Bluetooth, leather electric seats, electric and folding mirrors and dual-zone air-con. SE-I adds rear parking monitor, a power tailgate, 12 speaker audio upgrade, and 19-inch alloys. The SE-L also includes LED headlamps, side parking monitors, a Mark Levinson audio system with DAB, keyless entry and semi aniline leather seats with 10-way adjustment. The range-topping SE-L Premier also receives an electric sunroof.