The Lexus RX luxury crossover—and particularly the RX 450h hybrid version—has always been an image vehicle. But now, for 2016, the RX lineup finally gets an image that says something other than pragmatic, fiscally responsible luxury.
It’s no surprise why this vehicle is the longtime best-selling luxury crossover of its class (think BMW X5, Acura MDX, and Lincoln MKX, among many) for upscale realtors,business people, and empty-nesters, as its combination of interior comfort, a high seating point (for easy entry and exit), and fuel-efficient powertrains—plus the Lexus badge and the high resale values that go with it—have added up to a smart (albeit predictable) pick.
With predictability thrown to the wayside for a new design for the RX that throws out the jellybean look in favor of a design that may be tough to take in at first glance, but as a sum, is a very expressive one.
For the first time, the RX 450h hybrid will be offered in F Sport guise, which means that it upgrades to an Adaptive Variable Suspension (and a stiffer suspension tune in general), deeply bolstered sport seats, and various trim and appearance changes inside.
In the 2016 RX 450h, a 3.5-liter direct-injection V-6 engine, rated at 259 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque, is supplemented by a two-motor system, as part of Toyota’s familiar Hybrid Synergy Drive, using planetary gearing for the power split and to replace a traditional transmission. The main traction motor of that system is is rated at 123 kW (165 hp).
Then in all-wheel-drive versions of the Lexus RX 450h, a separate 50-kW (67-hp) motor-generator unit is installed for the rear wheels, making this version an over-the-road hybrid in some respects.
Front-wheel-drive versions of the 2016 RX 450h can get to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, while AWD versions aren’t far behind, at 7.9 seconds. The hybrid powertrain, altogether, makes 308 horsepower in either setup. That’s because the battery capacity remains the same 2 kWh.
2016 Lexus RX 450h Price
At least the new RX 450h is priced at around 60,000 euros in line with Mercedes GLE 400, Audi Q7 3.0 TDI or BMW X5 35i. A real message is the optics with diabolical “Diabolo” grill, and in terms of body and interior, the engineers have started virtually from scratch. Good: The fifth edition of the hybrid SUVs offer more space, more supple springs, is a sovereign Highway Skid and scores with very low driving noise. Processing acts dignified and solid. The electronics are now up to date, suspension, steering and brakes were but merely revised.
2016 Lexus RX 450h Specs
- BASE PRICE: $44,000 (projection)
- DRIVETRAIN: V6, eight-speed automatic, front- or all-wheel drive (RX 350); V6, two or three assist motors, continuously variable transmission, front- or all-wheel drive (RX 450h
- OUTPUT: 3.5-liter V6, 295 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 267 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm (RX 350) 3.5-liter V6, 259 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 247 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm, peak 308 system hp with electric assist (RX 450h)
- CURB WEIGHT: 4,387 lbs. (RX 350 AWD); 4,740 lbs. (RX 450h AWD)
- 0-60 MPH: 8.0 sec (estimate)
- FUEL ECONOMY: 19 city, 26 highway (RX 350 AWD, manufacturer’s projection); 30 city, 28 highway (RX 450h AWD)(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)