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The Top Gear car review:Lexus RX
What is it like on the road?
Lexus keeps things simple for the RX range, offering just one powertrain. It’s not going to worry rival SUVs with AMG or BMW M badges, but the Lexus is silky smooth on the move. Its combined system output of 308bhp is enough to make it feel brisk, though it’s best to not work the engine too hard as its CVT automatic (continuously variable transmission) prefers to make use of the torque instead.
To be fair, that CVT is an improvement on previous generations of the same thing. It’s slightly counterintuitive, but the most efficient way to drive fast with this hybrid is to accelerate hard, get the car up to speed as quickly as you can and then cruise along with the revs falling back down to an acceptable level.
Motorway journeys are nothing short of serene in the RX, assuming your passengers are keeping quiet. Wind and tyre noise are suitably muted, as is the drivetrain, leaving you to waft along in comfort enjoying the decent Mark Levinson stereo system.
There is the choice of different drive modes ranging from Eco to Normal to Sport, and these all perform subtle changes to the drive systems as you might expect. Not only does Eco moderate the throttle response, but it dials down the climate control to conserve energy.
In general, the RX works its hybrid system well, replenishing the battery at any available opportunity. Stick to using a light throttle and you’ll barely notice the V6 stopping and starting along the way.
Models equipped with the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) get Sport S and Sport S+ modes over the regular Sport. This means reduced body roll and a stiffer ride for more enthusiastic drives. Ultimately, most will likely leave it in its Normal mode, and that’s how to experience the RX at its best.
On the larger 20in alloy wheels the ride comfort is good, and versions riding on 18s should improve that further, along with a modest reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Of the two cars, the RX L unsurprisingly fares a little worse in the consumption stakes, with a combined figure of 47.9mpg versus the 54.3mpg that the five-seat RX promises.
To maximise that, the driver can select the EV mode, which uses only the battery to drive the car, but the range is very limited in both driving distance and speed.