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Kent Life road test: Lexus RX 450h

PUBLISHED: 16:42 20 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:34 20 February 2013

Kent Life road test: Lexus RX 450h

Kent Life road test: Lexus RX 450h

A powerful SUV with the green credentials of a Ford Focus? The third generation Lexus RX 450h takes on the diesels with hybrid power

Kent Life road test: Lexus RX 450h

A powerful SUV with the green credentials of a Ford Focus? The third generation Lexus RX 450h takes on the diesels with hybrid power

This Lexus RX is the second generation of the model to snub diesel power in preference of Toyotas clever hybrid system. Its a complicated drivetrain, but the basics are these: a 246bhp 3.5 litre V6 is mated to an electric motor producing around 165bhp. Together, these are chiefly responsible for putting power to the front wheels, and at the back is another 67bhp electric motor driving the rears. All three together put a shade under 300bhp to the wheels, making the RX good for a 7.8 second dash to 60mph.

Its not as quick as many rivals, but if youre concerned about the environment, and you simply must have a 4X4, this is probably the one to go for. While the fuel efficiency is about on a par with diesel engines, the emission levels will sell it to many. 145g/km puts it in the 120 tax disc bracket, which is just a fiver more than most of the Ford Focus range. Pretty impressive stuff for an SUV weighing more than two tonnes.

Its even better around town at slow speeds and under gentle acceleration, the V6 wont kick in at all. You can cruise happily around town in eerie silence on battery power alone, and a prod on the throttle wakes up the petrol engine immediately.

So its clever, then. Smart-looking, too. The RX has had its fair share of revisions and facelifts over its lifetime, but its still looking fresh. Inside, the interior is perhaps the RXs party piece it exudes expense and luxury from all angles. Choice of materials and their fit and finish is flawless too theres really no cheap plastic or corner-cutting to be seen.

Its a similar story on the road. Clearly the RX is far from being sporty, but for its size it holds its weight decently in the corners. Lexus says that the suspension has been tuned for European roads, and it shows. The steering could do with a little more feel in it, but theres not much in the way of body roll; its a very collected drive for a heavy car.

All but the base model have air suspension, which can feel a little rough around town, but on the open road its a smooth, flowing ride. Theres very little in the way of tyre and wind noise either, and with the super-smooth petrol V6, youll have no trouble hearing the kids complaining in the back.

In terms of gadgets, its a Lexus so the skys the limit. Standard equipment is very good you get a nine-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and everything youd expect to be wrapped in wood or leather, has been. Theres a good extras list too, so if you feeling a little flush, theres plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Bad points? Not many, really. The settings and navigation interface is a little fiddly, and at 44,530 for the base model and 61,055 for the top spec its not cheap, especially compared to rivals like Land Rovers TDV6 Discovery. Depreciation should be manageable though, and the reliability will give you peace of mind for decades.

Whatever your opinion on SUVs, theres really no denying the RXs green credentials. If youre concerned for the environment, your road tax bill or you just want reliable luxury and plenty of space, the RX makes sound sense.

Lexus RX 450h

Price: from 44,530

Performance: 0-62mph: 7.8 sec

Economy: 44.8mpg (combined)

CO2: 145g/km

Engine: 3.5litre V6

Gearbox: CVT auto

Contact details: 01892 700 400

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