December part 1

* Lexus RX450h SE-L tested * Year-long review * Tested by Steve Fowler...

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What Car? Staff
15 May 2010

December part 1

Pester-power rules in my house. Whether its where we go or what we buy, every member of the Fowler family has to have a say. So when it came to saying goodbye to the Lexus weve been living with for the past year, everyone was determined to give their views.
Reaction was, well, mixed.

Actually, when I say mixed, it was me in one corner and everyone else in the other unquestionably, they loved the Lexus. Four more satisfied customers, then, but I wasnt quite as convinced.

So why isnt it a full thumbs up from me? Lexus markets the car as a low-CO2, high-mpg SUV thatll save you a small fortune in company car tax. The latter is certainly true: top-rate tax payers pay 314 a month for a Lexus like mine. If you try saving on that by opting for a BMW X5 costing 6000 less, your monthly tax bill will rise to 473.

Thats down to the RXs official CO2 figures of 148g/km more akin to those of a small hatchback than an SUV. The official average mpg of 44.8 is similarly impressive. Sadly, the real-world average of just over 30mpg isnt quite so good, and with CO2 and mpg intrinsically linked, that 148g/km figure isnt strictly true.

Most people will just pocket the savings and moan about the economy as many owners seem to do. In the greater scheme of things, a large SUV that manages over 30mpg is a good thing, but I was expecting more.

More is certainly what you get in other ways from Lexus ownership. My local dealer is Lexus Twickenham, where sales manager Chris Walker began to look after me even before I collected the car (asking for my favourite radio stations and sat-nav destinations so he could programme them in for me).

He also talked me through the controls and even gave me lifts to the office when I had to take my car in to the dealer. You never realise how good a Lexus dealer is until you experience one yourself.

I experienced it quite a few times once for service, but a few times for repairs. I reversed into a bollard at a Toyota dealer after doing a TV interview about the recall issue costly at 1569.

My car also went back in as Lexus tried, unsuccessfully, to cure a creak from the brakes and to get the car to recognise my iPod reliably. When my iPod was finally connected, the system sounded brilliant my car came with the 15-speaker Mark Levinson system: clear, crisp, punchy and one of the best Ive experienced.

Its a shame, then, that it was operated by the infuriating Remote Touch controller. In attempting to create its own multi-media control system in the mould of BMWs iDrive and Audis MMI, Lexus has developed a mouse controller that drove me bonkers. It simply required too much attention, too much time and too many moves and clicks to operate the audio, climate control, navigation and other car systems.

Setting the navigation to go to an address took around 10 movements. The voice activation didnt do anything to help you still had to confirm commands with Remote Touch!