As one of the earliest luxury crossovers (SUV) on the market, the Lexus RX has been particularly successful, especially in the United States, where it has been the best-selling luxury SUV since its introduction!
The 2012 RX is a facelift of the 2009 RX – the third generation RX (codename AL10). This update gives the RX a stronger and more dynamic personality. One of the most visible improvements is the front grill, which now follows the L-Finesse design of Lexus: it is more elaborate and recognizable than its predecessor. In F-Sport version, the RX distinguishes itself with an even more aggressive look. Actually, the RX now looks great from almost any angle, except – in our opinion – from the back, with a peculiar design inherited from the first generation.
Inside, the RX presents the inherent characteristics of a Lexus: quality, silence, refinement and comfort. The seats are comfortable, can be ergonomically adjusted and when equipped with air circulation, like on our test model, you can spend hours in them without showing any sign of fatigue. In the back, the seats can be reclined, extending the experience of a comfortable ride to your passengers. The layout of the commands is well thought of. All knobs and buttons are clearly labeled, logically placed and easily accessible… except for the A/C temperature control buttons, which are just too small and oddly placed.
The RX450h produces a combined 295 horsepower. It is the fastest of the RX series with a -60 time of 7.4 seconds. According to Lexus, its 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson-cycle engine with Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission with intelligence (ECVT-i) is able to convert more of the energy generated during combustion into mechanical energy than conventional engines. The Exhaust Heat Recovery system captures, reuses and cools exhaust gas to warm up the engine, therefore shortening the time it takes to reach a temperature at which it can function on battery power alone. It also has an Intelligent Shift Control system that can estimate whether you are traveling uphill or automatically and downhill provide the optimal engine response. The RX450h AWD is not a true 4×4 in the sense that only when needed, the rear electric-drive motors are used. Only the non-hybrid versions come equipped with Active Torque Control all-wheel drive (AWD) with variable torque split and manual-locking center differential. Lexus describes this as part-time all-wheel drive. Might limit your off-road ambitions, something most drivers probably will not care at the RX should be able to carry you anywhere where it is legally possible to drive and by any weather, even though great for fuel handling and economy.
At low speed, you can certainly feel the 2,130 kg in the steering and how the car responds. But as soon as your velocity increases, say above 30km/h, the car feels surprisingly light, almost nimble. Thanks to its air suspension, body roll is virtually inexistent and as a result, the Lexus RX provides the driver with a pleasuring experience and frees the passengers from motion sickness, something most SUVs fail at. As a matter of fact, driving the RX450h on mountain roads easily make you forget the weight and size of the car. Same story on the highway where the only reminder that you are driving an SUV is the height of the cars you pass (or that pass you). During the course of a weekend, we took the RX on a 650km ride with 2 passengers and a trunk filled with luggage, mixing city traffic, mountain and highways roads (for about 1/3 each) and averaged 10.5 km/l (9.52 l/100km) ! This is a very good result for an SUV of this size and considering that we drove normally, not trying to save gas. As a driver, one gizmo that we especially liked was the HUD. No need to look down at the dashboard to know where the next left turn is or to check your speed, with an HUD, everything you need is right there in front of you.
if you need a car with enough space to comfortably carry a family of four and all their luggage, on any road, by any weather and without consuming too much gas whilst still providing an interesting driving experience, look no further, the Lexus RX450h is for you.