New Lexus RX vs Range Rover Sport
These plug-in hybrid SUVs both combine great luxury with the potential for low running costs. But which of them does it better?...
NEW Lexus RX 450h+ Takumi
List price £81,600
Target Price £80,995
Lexus’s first plug-in hybrid – the NX – was so good that we named it our 2023 Plug-in Hybrid of the Year. The same set-up now powers the latest iteration of the larger RX – so, can lightning strike twice?
Range Rover Sport P440e Dynamic SE
List price £92,980
Target Price £92,980
Our reigning Luxury Car of the Year is cosseting to drive and lovely inside, plus it has a long of cial electric range. It’ll have to work hard to justify its considerably higher price, though
If you want to travel from London to Sydney, £10,000 is pretty much the difference between booking a Singapore Airlines suite or sitting in economy, where the person in front will probably recline their seat into your knees and the one beside you will steal your armrest.
Now, imagine that you could have a first class ticket for the price of an economy one. Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? If that’s the case, this test shouldn’t take too long, right? After all, the new Lexus RX 450h+ in range-topping Takumi trim costs that much less to buy than the rival Range Rover Sport P440e in mid-spec Dynamic SE guise.
At first glance, it really is quite difficult to figure out why there’s such a large gulf between the list prices of these two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) SUVs; they both have posh badges, are a similar size and can drive solely on electricity to reduce your fuel and tax bills.
Are you paying thousands extra simply for a Range Rover badge? Or does the British car better its Japanese rival in enough tangible ways to justify its higher price? That’s what we aim to find out.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
It’s been said that, from an aerodynamic point of view, bees shouldn’t be able to fly, but no one has told them, so they do anyway. In much the same way, it’s improbable that anything as big and heavy as our contenders can be so quick. In our tests, the RX and Range Rover blasted from 0-60mph in 6.5sec and 6.1sec respectively, which means they’re as rapid as many hot hatches.
That pace is partly down to their electric motors giving instantaneous power off the line, and even in fully electric (EV) mode they can cruise at motorway speeds with ease. However, the Range Rover’s larger battery (31.8kWh versus 18.1kWh) means it can run in that mode for longer. In our real-world tests, it covered 50 miles before its battery was depleted, versus 33 miles in the RX.
When running in EV mode, both cars are so hushed that you’re barely aware you’re moving. The differences are starker with the petrol engines running, though, because the RX’s four-cylinder engine sounds a bit out of place in such an expensive SUV. This isn’t helped by the fact that the CVT automatic gearbox sends the revs soaring whenever you accelerate hard, holding them high until you ease off. The larger six-cylinder engine in the Range Rover is far more pleasing to the ears.
You don’t get into either of these cars expecting them to be sporty, but that doesn’t mean they don’t put on a reasonable show when the road ahead gets twisty. The Range Rover is more impressive, with its suspension doing a better job of keeping the body upright and the standard four-wheel steering making for surprising nimbleness through tight corners. The RX isn’t too far behind, although its steering is noticeably less precise and doesn’t feel as naturally weighted as the Range Rover’s.
We suspect comfort is even more important than handling for most buyers, and once again the Range Rover Sport, with its standard air suspension, steals the show. Despite being slightly firmer than the pricier full-size Range Rover, it remains comfortable regardless of what you throw at it, smoothing out even the worst of the UK’s roads, at almost any speed. True, it isn’t quite as wonderfully supple as the regular petrol and diesel versions, but it’s still on a different level from the RX.
The latter soaks up smaller potholes and imperfections pretty well, but there’s always some subtle underlying fidgeting, along with more side-to-side sway along meandering stretches of road. Stopping smoothly isn’t as easy in the RX, either, because its brakes are grabbier than its rival’s.
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