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Long-term review

Lexus RX 450h - long-term review

£67,100 / £81,600 as tested / £524pcm
Published: 02 Feb 2024
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    Lexus RX 450h Takumi

  • ENGINE

    2487cc

  • BHP

    304.4bhp

  • 0-62

    6.5s

Life with a Lexus RX 450h: a phenomenally comfortable car

The caprice of the British rail network threw a major real-world challenge at the RX over the festive period. Having deposited one family member at Luton airport – where parking is currently a vexatious process following the multi-storey fire that immolated 1,200 vehicles last October – my daughter’s boyfriend was due from Cumbria into Euston later that same afternoon. Except that for various reasons he was now marooned in Coventry.

So, I loaded up a podcast (Conan O’Brien, since you ask, although the TG one is also very good), ignored the howling wind and horizontal rain, and pointed the Lexus up the M1. This 200-mile unplanned round-trip home would have tested my nerves in any number of other cars, but these are exactly the sort of circumstances the RX 450h magically finesses away.

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This is a phenomenally comfortable car on which to ply the motorway miles, a hi-tech capsule that hermetically seals you off from the nightmare all around. In this instance, smart motorway gantry signs that think we’re incapable of travelling faster than 50mph even in rain. The front seats are quite possibly the most comfortable currently fitted in any car, and they’re heated, cooled and electrically adjustable in the range-topping Takumi spec. I love Lexus’s Japanese-centric approach, in terms of exterior and interior design, and having stayed in some traditional Japanese homes and spas, I can tell you that the influence isn’t just facile marketing blah.

And it’s efficient. This has been a busy period of shlepping around, but shorter journeys have allowed me to maximise the hybrid aspects of the RX’s set-up. Its 18.1 kWh battery returns a reliable 40 miles on a full charge, less than the 60 or so rival BMW X5 or Merc GLE PHEVs deliver, but enough in my primary use cases, ie: the round trip to my nearest major train station when I’m in London. Or allowing me to go comfortably emissions-free if I can be bothered to drive to the city.

Like other PHEVs in the wider Toyota family, the RX 450h self-charging facility goes heavy on the regenerative braking, boosting the combustion engine’s efficiency. This is not a car that enjoys or invites you to drive rapidly – it’s heavy and feels lardy, and the characterless engine and CVT deter enthusiasm – so the upside is an overall real-world average of 43mpg. Filling up is a much less terrifying prospect than with other full-size SUVs, and there’s something about the car’s entire MO that makes you a generally more considered sort of driver. Another point of difference with other full-size SUVs.

But this sense of calm is challenged by something I want to get into in the next report: the RX’s comically over-zealous driver assistance systems.

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