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Car Reviews | Lexus / 11-26-18

Lexus RX 450h

Guilt-free luxury


By Eric Tipan

 

Nobody takes luxury and design to the next level – almost concept-like – quite like Lexus and nowhere is it more noticeable than in the 4th-generation RX.

From its sharp façade and the exquisite spindle grille all the way to its fastback-like C-pillar, it’s hard not to notice the RX.

It’s LED headlamps with daytime running lamps shine through a jagged trapezoidal border that perfectly connects to the 2ndmost appealing feature of a Lexus, as voted by buyers in the US, the spindle grille.

Not only does its lines appear piercing but it also looks that way three-dimensionally. View its profile and you’ll see the front jutting out like it’s about to cut through traffic.

And it’s not just the lines either. It’s whole surface toys around with the whole idea creating such texture never before seen in a mass production crossover.

From the front to the rear, there’s a certain play on almost anything with an edge that helps make the RX seem like a vehicle way ahead of its time.

Inside, the RX 450h combines elements of luxury and sportiness to keep up with the Lexus philosophy while also making it appear more frivolous and less serious as a crossover.

The only wood you’ll find is on the steering wheel, which makes it look opulent without being overly serious. It has fine leather along the sides where you grip it and an unusually chunky horn button.

Call me old-fashioned but as much as I like techie stuff, I do prefer the two large old-fashioned meters on the instrumentation panel.

There’s the traditional speedometer but in the tach’s place is a revised dial without the numbers but has levels for Charge, Eco, and Power so you still know how much its revving but it also tells you how the power is being used.

In the middle of the dashboard is the heart of its entertainment center, a 12.3-inch Premium Electro Multi Vision Display (EMV) blasting audio to 11 onboard speakers and a subwoofer.

It also displays navigation data, radio and media, climate control, hands-free telephone functions and setup options, including Bluetooth connectivity and the energy monitor.

While it may not be as lavish as say an LS, the interior is finely manicured with soft-touch leather, intricate stitching and brushed aluminum trim. It looks good, feels good and even comes with Lexus’ patented analog clock right in between the middle vents.

Despite being a crossover, the layout doesn’t feel cramped. There’s plenty of clean surfaces and the buttons are large enough to see and touch without having to hunt them down.

The second row might be a pinch for taller people though as the fastback look caused a sloping design towards the rear of the roof, which reduced the ceiling height.

If there’s one thing in the cabin that will see an upgrade soon, my hunch would be the Remote Touch controller. The latest Lexus units now sport the Remote Touch Interface which is more like a trackpad. The current controller is a square-shaped joystick that’s sensitive to the touch making it feel jumpy when you’re browsing the menu.

What I like most about it is the hybrid system. Complementing the 3.5 V6 engine is a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor getting electricity from a nickel-metal hydride battery that’s charged via regenerative braking and power from the engine.

It pumps out a total of 303.7 bhp and 247 ft-lb to an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission, which sends all the wheels and the rear electric drive motors.

Pressing the Power button starts the electric motor which, for the uninitiated, feels like nothing happened. If you’re exiting a garage on a flat surface, you could go on for some 500 meters before the engine fires up, but not on an incline.

On Eco Mode, the drive feels the way you do on a Monday morning – slogging on the highway. Normal is a bit more alive, responsive and engaging but feels wanting.

Sport is the way to go if you really want all the RX 450h offers and you won’t even have to feel guilty because it’s a hybrid. My drive yielded a whopping 17.5 kilometers per liter.

Power on Sport is palpable and audible. Lexus may have done a wonderful job limiting the amount of noise, vibration and harshness that comes in, so much so that I barely heard its own horn, but the V6 notes creep in slightly to tell you things are about to get fun.

The V6, when fully engaged, makes the RX feel tremendously agile. It’s quick on its feet and moves like a ballerina if you know what how to handle it.

It feels poised under turning and cornering stresses thanks to its part-time all-wheel drive system and makes the worst of EDSA feel like the streets of Singapore.

Steering feedback is deceivingly light for its size but it’s highly taut and pinpoint accurate.

It doesn’t come yet with the automakers latest features like its most comprehensive safety suite, the Safety System + A, but that’s because it’s already three-years old.

The next update should take care of that.

What it does have is a full set of airbags (front, passenger, rear, knee, side and curtain), clearance and reverse sensors, a backup camera, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, and the usual ABS with EBD and Brake Assist.

It’s flashy yet efficient, plush and yet reasonably priced at just Php 4.948 million. I know that’s still a lot but if you look at the ‘big picture’, it’s a few thousand short of some of its major competitors and this one’s a hybrid.

More miles for your money, literally.

That’s driving luxury absolutely guilt-free with the 2018 Lexus RX 450h.

Big props to Lexus Philippines and congrats coming in 2ndoverall in terms of premium segment sales despite having only one dealership in the country.

Specifications

Engine

EngineV6 Hybrid
Displacement3456cc
Cylinder HeadDOHC - dual VVT-iW
Fuel InjectorMulti-point injection
Max Power (bhp @ rpm)303.7 bhp
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)247 ft-lb @ 4600 rpm
TransmissionElectronically-Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)

Performance

Top Speed180 km/h (111.8 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph7.7 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l)17.5 kilometers per liter (combined)

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP)Php 4,948,000
What's GreatCaptivating exterior lives up to the Lexus heritage. Interior appointments are of the highest quality and amenities are top-of-line. Fuel efficient yet comes with an engine capable of a thrilling drive. It just has the best of both worlds
What's Not SoThere’s a wee bit of a learning curve to master controls and switches of the infotainment system
C! Editors Rating10/10