December part 2

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

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What Car? Staff
15 May 2010

December part 2

Another bizarre thing was where the power and USB sockets were sited deep inside the storage box between the front seats, hidden by two other removable trays. Not exactly the easiest place to get to.

Lexus ownership should be all about an easy life. Remote Touch wasnt that, but so much else was. Ive covered the dealers, but the car was similarly painless to drive.

Yes, it was a little bland, but when all you want at the end of a hard day or at the start of a long drive is something comfortable, reliable and refined, the Lexus is the perfect choice.

The hybrid power system meant the car could run on battery power alone for about a mile and at speeds up to around 30mph.

Its a bit eerie, with only a slight electrical whine, but rather relaxing; pedestrians got a bit of a surprise more than once.

Things didnt get much noisier when the 3.5-litre V6 engine kicked in. Sometimes youd hardly notice. I certainly didnt notice the battery getting recharged using the energy created as I slowed down.

The combination of V6 petrol engine and electric motors gave a decent amount of shove, too: 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds. The only problem was the Continually Variable (CVT) auto gearbox rather than stepped gears, the gearbox alters the ratios gradually, which made the engine sound more whiney than growly.

However, I didnt normally hear much, other than the stereo, of course. Laminated side windows helped to keep out wind noise and there wasnt much road noise.

The ride
The ride was generally just as relaxing. In an attempt to make the RX sportier than previous models (they shouldnt have bothered), the suspension was firmed up. This made it a little jiggly around town. Its still better than most other SUVs, though, and it was much more comfortable on the motorway. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the car worked as a 4x4, too it lacks the hardware serious 4x4s have, but still got me up the snow-strewn hills around my house last winter.

Another highlight was the cabin comfort. We never felt short of space in the front, back or boot, and the seats were really comfy.

Quality was top-notch and I never heard a squeak from inside the car even after the second bout of accident repair work, which was much more extensive than the first. I lent the car to a colleague for what was to be a mammoth cross-European jaunt. He made it, but the car was side-swiped by an errant Polo along the way and returned on the back of a lorry, damaged to the tune of about 7000.

Setting out on my year with the RX I was expecting top quality, comfortable and worry-free motoring. It didnt disappoint.

I was also expecting the car to live up to its eco-friendly billing it didnt quite. I could live with its idiosyncrasies, but cant help thinking that the RX is a good car, but one that has yet to fulfil its true potential.

Reader Test Team
Name Sam Shepherd
Drives RX450h SE-L Premium
Sam's verdict

'The RX450h is an interesting vehicle. The looks grew on me over time and the interior is full of quality plastics, but the dash is just too fiddly and the asymmetric layout is not the most functional. The RX ticks all the boxes, but it just doesnt light my fire like other cars do.'
Average reader rating