- Upmarket build quality with luxurious fixtures and fittings
- Refined to drive with plenty of power on tap
- Low emissions make it attractive to fleet buyers
- Range-topping Takumi model is almost £80k
- Some rivals are more exciting to drive
- Quite a low EV-only range
Lexus lays claim to being the company that introduced the world to the SUV sector back in 1999 when it launched its first-generation RX model. That car has gone on to sell 3.5 million units globally with the UK accounting for 57,000 of them.
Now the Japanese carmaker, renowned for developing luxurious vehicles, has just unleashed the all-new fifth-generation version of its five-door SUV. It boasts 90 per cent new components compared to the outgoing version and customers have plenty to think about.
As well as having the choice of a number of well-equipped trim levels, all packed with tech and the very latest Toyota safety systems, they will have to decide which RX suits their needs.
There is the entry-level RX 350h, a self-charging hybrid electric model, the RX 450h+ which is the first plug-in hybrid electric RX (the company’s second car to feature this technology behind NX) or the RX 500h, Lexus’s first performance-focused turbocharged hybrid with six-speed automatic transmission and Direct4 all-wheel drive.
Toyota is confident that the version likely to attract the most attention from customers is the RX 450h+ PHEV model and that’s the car we put to the test.
It is available in spec levels called Premium Pack, Premium Plus Pack and Takumi with prices at £64,950, £70,950 and £79,450 respectively.
The Lexus design team were given a challenging mission when developing the latest generation RX. They needed to give it a more unique identity with proportions to reflect its dynamic handling. With that in mind, the main focal point is the new-look huge spindle grille that simply cannot be ignored. There are slim light clusters, a floating roof, beautifully sculpted curves and 21-inch alloys to complete the powerful appearance.
Our test car, in range-topping Takumi trim, boasted a panoramic roof that allowed light to flood into the cabin along with Sonic Copper paintwork that really looked the business, especially when captured in the sunshine.
Moving inside, the interior oozes quality in both the craftsmanship and level of high-end technology. Expect to find the finest leather upholstery with lots of attractive wooden trim.
The main focal point is the stylish 14-inch multimedia infotainment screen with clear graphics and sharp responses. Our model also had a pitch perfect 21-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Sound System, wireless phone charger, full smartphone connectivity, a 360-degree panoramic view monitor and colour head-up display.
The seats can be heated or ventilated and the steering wheel can also be warmed to fend off the winter chill. Both the seats and steering wheel are also power operated for added convenience.
The dashboard is very driver-focused and the raised console means all controls and levers are within easy reach. And it is always a plus point in my book to have physical buttons and dials to adjust the climate control rather than fiddling with an over-complicated touchscreen menu.
On The Road
Handling & Performance
Powering the Lexus RX 450h+ is a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol hybrid engine delivering 304bhp. It can sprint from 0-62mph in a very respectable 6.5 seconds and tops out at 124mph.
The RX is sharp away from the starting blocks and the acceleration through the surprisingly refined e-CVT transmission is beautifully smooth and responsive.
A full charge can provide 43 EV-only miles which should easily cover the average daily commute and, when depleted, the RX drives like a standard hybrid car with the engine being assisted by the electric motor.
This SUV eats up motorway miles for fun, cruising effortlessly at 70mph and in busier stop and start traffic, the agility also impresses, as does the all-round driver visibility. And, of course, if you have enough charge you can revert to EV-only mode which gives instant response to any throttle pressure and some extra zip in general.
The steering is well-weighted, delivering plenty of driver feedback and the RX is beautifully poised out on the more challenging B roads with impressive grip through tight bends. There is a minimal amount of body movement at higher speeds through corners, but it’s not that noticeable.
The high-end Takumi model gains Lexus adaptive suspension too which can be adjusted according to taste, but credit to the engineers because the ride and comfort levels on this car are truly sublime.
Space & Practicality
The five-door Lexus RX stretches 4,890mm in length, is 1,920mm across (without mirrors) and is 1,695mm tall. Despite being the same length as the fourth-gen model, it offers more legroom, a longer boot plus a lower centre of gravity for improved dynamics.
With seating for five, the RX 450h+ can also tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to two tonnes making it ideal for family getaways.
The boot, accessed by a powered tailgate, can swallow 612 litres of kit with all seats in an upright position and this capacity increases with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
In addition, there are some handy storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin. These include a locking glovebox, deep door bins with room for a bottle, a covered tray, practical central cubby, along with plenty of USB and USB-C ports.
The 18.1kWh Li-ion battery can be fully charged in approximately 2.5 hours from a standard home wallbox.
The Lexus RX line-up starts from £64,950 for the entry-level RX 450h+ Premium Pack model and rises to £79,450 for the range-topping Takumi version, as tested. Our car had special metallic paint that added an extra £250 to the cost, but that was the only option.
According to official figures, under WLTP testing, our RX 450h+ could deliver a combined 235.4-256.8mpg. This figure would only ever be achievable if the car’s 43 mile electric-only range was used on a daily basis with the battery being charged regularly.
However, the carbon emissions figure of 25-26g/km will bring with it very attractive financial rewards, particularly for business drivers as it has a Benefit in Kind tax rating of just 8 per cent.
Road tax costs will be low as a result of the impressive CO2 figure with owners paying a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £10 increasing to the standard fee of £155 after 12 months.
Unfortunately, there are some added costs to factor in. Because the Lexus RX costs above £40k, owners will have to pay a government premium car levy. This costs £335 and runs from year two onwards for five years. The test car sits in insurance group 45.
On a positive note, another factor worth considering is reliability and servicing costs. Lexus offers one of, if not, the best warranty packages around. The RX comes with a pretty standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, but this can be extended free of charge up to 10 years or 100,000 miles provided the car is serviced regularly at an authorised Lexus workshop. And it is transferable if the car is sold on.
Lexus has always developed premium quality cars that sometimes could be regarded as a little too sensible. Ideal for golfers yes, but not really that exciting. That has all changed in recent years and the new RX is perfect proof that while still delivering on the luxury and refinement, Lexus can also deliver on performance. And, with low emissions, it scores highly on any environmental scale too.