Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
If you're looking for a seven-seat premium-badged SUV with a full or plug-in hybrid engine, you currently have two options: the Lexus RX L and the Volvo XC90 Recharge (all other hybrid luxury SUVs lose their third row). However, choosing between the two is not a simple affair.
You see, on paper the RX L is significantly cheaper than the XC90 Recharge. However, while the XC90 is a plug-in hybrid that can travel on pure electric power for an extended range, the RX L is a pure hybrid with a very limited all-electric mode.
Once its small battery has depleted, you’re left with a pretty thirsty 2300kg petrol SUV and the prospect of fuel economy figures in the low-thirties at best (the official figure is in the mid-thirties). If you’re looking for long-distance economy above all else, one of the Lexus RX L’s diesel rivals will be a better bet.
Things are more clear cut if you’re a company car driver, though. Although the RX L has lower CO2 emissions than many rivals, it still sits in the top 37% tax bracket. Unless you’re looking at a non-premium badged alternative that will knock a couple of per cent off, such as the Toyota Highlander or Kia Sorento, the only way your benefit-in-kind (BIK) bills will be significantly lower is to look at a plug-in like the XC90 Recharge.
The RX L does win points back for being very well equipped. All models come with big 20in alloy wheels, a powered tailgate, keyless entry and start, three-zone climate control and all the infotainment, visibility and interior goodies we’ve already mentioned.
We’d recommend opting for at least the Premium Pack so you get real leather seats that are heated and ventilated up front, a heated steering wheel and a gesture-controlled tailgate for when your hands are full. You might want to consider the Tech and Safety Pack (it's only available alongside the Premium Pack) and a sunroof. Takumi models get every box ticked but are expensive.
The standard Lexus RX topped the luxury SUV category in the What Car? Reliability Survey, and Lexus itself finished in first place out of 31 manufacturers. Safety standards are high, too. Lexus’s Safety System+ is fitted as standard, bringing automatic emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition and automatic headlight high beam.
If you add the Tech and Safety Pack to the entry-level RX L, you’ll get blind-spot monitoring plus a rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking. With all those safety aids, it's perhaps no surprise that Euro NCAP awarded the regular RX a five-star rating. If safety is a key consideration, the Volvo XC90 is much better at protecting occupants from injury in the event of a crash, though.
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