Lexus RX 450hL Review
Sport utility vehicles have been the flavour of the decade in the UK. Some are as bland as gluten-free crackers – but they don’t have to be like this.
Lexus has come up with a formula to make SUVs mouth-watering. The carmaker would have to silence me forever (gulp!) if it told me what the recipe is, but the Japanese firm has at least let me sample an RX 450hL for this article.
Now, it came as a surprise to me how the RX 450hL Takumi – an elongated, seven-seater version of Lexus’ RX 450h is as far from bland as you can get. Why? Put it this way – if you need your SUV to give you oodles of equipment, top-drawer quality, excellent refinement, and bags of comfort, then this Lexus could be the car for you. It’s nowhere near as driver-focused as, say, BMW’s X5, but it’ll chill you out by turning any journey into a magic carpet ride.
Certainly, if you have kids, then you’ll struggle to find a non-German car quite so sumptuously accommodating. Furthermore, the Lexus moniker carries kudos, and the brand has a reliable reputation.
By adding more room behind the back wheels and two additional leather chairs, Lexus has done a great job when it comes to fitting extra people into the RX. This third row of chairs folds electrically from the load bay’s floor, while the second tier of seats slides to enable you to access the rearmost chairs.
What the L variant of the RX 450h does is give you a boost in load-lugging room from 453 litres to 495 litres, and a maximum of 966 litres with all five rear seats collapsed. Useful if more space is high on your list of reasons for buying a new car.
And from behind the tiller, other than the rear windscreen being further away, driving the seven-up Lexus doesn’t feel any different to the five-seater version. Visibility is just as decent, making the RX 450hL an easy motor to live with.
Priority is given to comfort, beginning with the heated and cooled front seats that keep you calm on lengthy trips. The ride is silky-smooth over tatty British tarmac, while the quiet hybrid powertrain adds electric power at low speeds.
Indeed, the hybrid arrangement, encompassing a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and a couple of electric motors, helps efficiency.
The steering isn’t as incisive as a BMW SUV’s, but not to worry – the Lexus isn’t about sporty handling; instead, it’s about laidback motoring. There’s lots of kit on the Takumi version of the RX 450hL, and there’s a sizeable infotainment screen. What’s more, this SUV comes with an audio treat in the form of a Mark Levinson sound system.
The RX 450hL feels special in every department – especially the cabin. On top of this, you have that bullet-proof Lexus dependability. And that last point is what you need when looking for a deluxe car that will serve you and your family well.