What Car? test fleet: Bye-bye BMW - Lexus RX450h SE-L hello

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Lexus RX450h SE-L
List price £51,556
Target price £50,520
Run by Steve Fowler
Tested for Three months/5260 miles

Surely this must be motoring nirvana for me. I like my SUVs (and have run a fair few before now) and I like the pampering Lexus cars and their dealers are famous for. I’m also becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, so a hybrid Lexus SUV should be the perfect solution for me.

With a CO2 output of 148g/km and a claimed average mpg of 44.8, the RX450h will save company car drivers (and their companies) a small fortune in tax and fuel bills. With Lexus standing at the top of the JD Power survey, you also know that the car shouldn’t let you down and the dealers will do all they can to keep you happy.

Pre-delivery questionnaire
That was certainly the case when I took delivery of my car. I was sent a pre-delivery questionnaire (a first for me), asking for details of my favourite radio stations and navigation destinations so they can be pre-programmed into my car. Then when delivery day came, Chris Walker of Lexus Twickenham (020 8892 2523) took as much time as I needed to explain the myriad features of my new car in the warm, dry, hand-over bay.

My past experience of Lexus ownership has all been about comfort – the cars and the service – and my initial impressions this time around are pretty much the same. Unlike most other RXs, my SE-L comes on air suspension rather than steel springs, so the ride is suitably squishy, yet firmer than old RXs.

Hybrid power
The hybrid system is great fun to use. The car will run silently on battery power alone for the best part of a mile, with the 3.5-litre V6 engine kicking in when extra power is needed or when the battery is low. It should all add up to decent fuel economy, but I can’t hide my initial disappointment at an average of a little over 30mpg – I was expecting it to be about 10mpg better.

I’m also disappointed by Lexus’s Remote Touch multimedia control system. It works like a computer mouse, but needs too much time and attention to use.
It’s a shame, because I love the gadgets on board – everything from Bluetooth to seat coolers – and I love the relaxed and refined nature of the drive. The family loves the car, too; there’s space for five and the dog.

What Car? says
The RX is a relaxed, refined and eco-friendly 4x4.


steve.fowler@whatcar.com

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