Lexus RX450h 2016 review
Richard Blackburn road tests and reviews the Lexus RX 450h with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Somebody needs to tell those hipster enviro-activists at Sea Shepherd to quickly make more stickers, because their fans have a fresh back window to stick ’em on. The new X5 xDrive40e is a petrol-electric hybrid SUV you can plug into your power point at home and then travel about 30km off a charge.
Yeah, that’s not far, but according to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development the average Australian lives 15.6km from where they work and that could make the daily commute fossil-fuel free – in BMW’s biggest SUV. Yes eco warriors you can have your planet and your luxurious loungeroom on wheels, too.
You’re not going to get stranded at the 30km mark either, this isn’t a fully electric vehicle. The four-cylinder turbo petrol engine on board has an 180kW/350Nm output and can work in isolation or together with the 83kW/250Nm electric motor. That’ll give you a range of about 1100km if you’re mainly on a highway or about 750km in town.
There’s never been an X5 xDrive40e before – this is the first of BMW’s plug-in hybrids in its new iPerformance division. The next to come will be the mid-sized 330e sedan and wagon in May.
Like all X5 xDrives the hybrid is all-wheel drive and looks exactly like its siblings – the only giveaways being the low-key ‘edrive’ badges and the charging port on the front-left wheel arch.
Pricing is in line with rest of the X5 range, too with BMW asking $118,900 for the xDrive40e – the same as the diesel-powered X5 xDrive 40d. The standard features list matches the 40d and includes Dakota leather upholstery and brushed aluminium trim, 10.25-inch multimedia screen with satnav and surround view camera, auto parking, active cruise control and 19-inch alloys.
What the hybrid gets that the diesel doesn’t is the adaptive ‘Comfort’ suspension package.
That price tag places the xDrive40e towwards the top end of the X5 range which kicks off at $86,200 for the front-wheel drive sDrive25d and steps all the way up to the $149,900 X5 M50d.
The X5 xDrive40e has a five-star ANCAP crash rating. There’s lane departure and forward collision warning, stability and traction control, ABS and two ISOFIX mounts.
You can also program the 40e to emit a sound to let pedestrians know it’s approaching – because 2.2 tonnes of metal creeping silently around a corner in a carpark tends to scare the breakfast out of people.
As for the fossil fuel free commute – it has to be said that most electricity in Australia is made by shoveling coal into a big fire. So the key to being totally eco is to source your power through green energy providers or get solar panels on the roof of your house and make the sun pay for your drive to work.
The human race is finally ready for plug-in hybrids because we’ve all trained ourselves to incorporate charging our phones into our lives. So the concept of getting home and putting your car on the charger isn’t much of an ask now.
What does it cost and how long does it take to charge the xDrive40e? Well, it comes with a charging cable which will plug into your regular home or garage power point and will fully charge the SUV in five hours. BMW sells a wall unit charger for $1700 which will charge the batteries in about 2.5 hours. Either way the electricity bill comes to about $2 to charge the SUV completely.
And that gives you the 30km electric-only range which is what we wanted to verify first at the Aussie launch of the SUV recently.
Before starting we had to get our heads around the three modes for the hybrid system – Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Save Battery. Like the other X5s the 40e has three regular drive modes too – Eco-Pro, Comfort and Sport.
We started with Auto eDrive and Comfort selected which is the default setting and means the petrol engine will only kick in at speeds above 70km/h or if you’re not gentle with acceleration. After about 10 minutes we changed to Max-eDrive which is purely electric. After 27km of driving we were down to four percent battery. Our first checkpoint was at 32 km and here we reached it in 43 minutes with an average fuel consumption of 4.1L/100km and an average speed of 45.9km.
Then going into Sport mode we ran the SUV on the petrol engine only for 47km to our start point. This saw us drinking at 10.6L/100km, but when in Sport mode the brakes charge the batteries and in the 53 minutes it took for us to get back we had regained 80 per cent charge.
What’s it like to drive? Pretty much just like any other X5 – the ride is supremely comfortable, the steering is brilliant, there’s plenty of grunt and the eight speed auto transmission is faultless. Inside is lavish with abundant head and legroom with and comfortable and supportive seats. There's four cupholders (two between the front seats and two in the second row's fold-down armrest) and four bottle holders (one in each door). The 40e doesn't have a third row - this is a five seater. Our test 40e was fitted with the $3300 M-Sport package - this bring 20-inch wheels, adpative M suspension and panoramic sunroof.
The xDrive40e is 120kg heavier than the xDrive 40d – so it’s the equivalent of chauffeuring Kyle Sandilands around ...
But the xDrive feels a tad heavier than its siblings and it is. BMW ditched the spare wheel (it has run-flat tyres) in order to fit in the in the 96 lithium ion batteries under the boot floor. The sheer weight of the batteries still means the xDrive40e is 120kg heavier than the xDrive 40d- so it’s the equivalent of chauffeuring Kyle Sandilands around all the time. Stuffing those batteries in means the boot floor is 40mm higher than a regular X5 and that drops the cargo capcity from 650 litres as found in the xDrive40d to 500 litres.
The air suspension in the rear also seems to struggle to rein in the momentum of the extra mass and we watched the xDrive40e in front of us leaning fairly hard in a roundabout as we felt ours do the same.
We were moving fairly quickly at the time and we were searching for faults, so owners may not notice or care.
Speaking of quick, the xDrive40e can do the 0-100km/h spint in 6.8s. That's not bad for a block of flats powered by a four-cylinder engine and electric motor, although not quite a fast as the xDrive40d which can do it in 5.9s.
If we’re fully honest with each other most SUVs would rarely leave the city – so the X5 xDrive40e with its ability to run purely on electricity for 30-odd kays is the peak of SUV evolution in a way. You can travel to work in bumper to bumper traffic without a noise or using fuel, plus if the electricity you’re filling it with is from a renewable source you can do it fossil and guilt free.
|M||4.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$104,888 – 119,990||2016 BMW X5 2016 M Pricing and Specs|
|M50d||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$80,960 – 93,060||2016 BMW X5 2016 M50d Pricing and Specs|
|sDrive 25d||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$49,789 – 67,990||2016 BMW X5 2016 sDrive 25d Pricing and Specs|
|xDRIVE 25d||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$53,790 – 61,820||2016 BMW X5 2016 xDRIVE 25d Pricing and Specs|