Lexus RX 450h Rear View
Lexus RX 450h

The Lexus RX450h test car had keyless entry and start and to make it easier to get in and out, engaging the seatbelt activates the driver's seat, making it slide forward 50mm from its resting position like a waiter seating a diner at a table. When the POWER, ignition button is pressed there is nothing but silence as the blue glow from the instrument panel fades up and the graphics illuminate. I did it and I'm sure many others have too; the Lexus RX450h starts in electric mode, hence the eerie silence and as I didn't think that it had powered up, I pressed the button again and felt foolish.

After a few moments the Lexus RX450h's engine does switch on but the car is ready to move straightaway and with the huge amount of torque from the electric motors on tap from standstill, it surprises quite a few people at the lights. It takes just 7.8 seconds to reach 62mph and the top speed is 124mph. At rest the engine switches off.

For the best exploitation of the power and torque, the Lexus RX450h comes with a Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT, which is far more hi-tech that the one in my old DAF. In fact, as well as being inherently smooth, the AI-SHIFT is set to optimise engine efficiency but also has a 6-speed, sequential shift pattern but no steering wheel-mounted, paddles just a neat high-level selector.

The idea of hybrids is fuel economy and low emissions and the official figures for the Lexus RX450h are: 42.8-, 47.2- and 44.8mpg for the urban, extra-urban and combined cycles respectively and the CO2 emissions are 148g/km, measured on the combined cycle.

Inside the Lexus RX450h's luxurious cabin, the fascia is relatively uncluttered considering the amount of technology, and especially when compared to that of the previous model. Lexus has whittled the centre console down to small-ish, chrome-effect triangle that emphasises the dune-like swathes of the dashboard. The company has achieved this by moving more controls to the steering wheel, in the form of multi-information switch, which is actually a page button and toggle switch that controls various functions, including Cruise Information and Switch Mode.

The latter is where the new driving mode settings can be found. These are ECO, EV and SNOW. In ECO mode the effect of the accelerator pedal is modified to reduce the effect of aggressive driving and the air conditioning is also decreased under heavy acceleration for fuel efficiency.

Electric Vehicle or EV mode automatically operates at start up and up to 25mph but can be set so that the Lexus RX450h stays in EV for as long as the battery lasts then it reverts to petrol power. As it is almost silent and there are zero emissions in this mode, it is ideal for town driving.

In SNOW, the pedal inputs are adjusted to minimise wheelspin on loose or slippery surfaces. And, if there is any loss of traction, the rear motor engages to help maintain grip.

Lexus RX News

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