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Lexus RX 450h 2011 Review

EXPERT RATING
8

THIS is a review of a luxury ambulance ... or maybe it should be titled how I went from rider number 7 to patient number 6040789 to 1831km in an RX450h.

It's a long story, but the summary is this: I crashed on a bike launch in Victoria, ended up in a Melbourne hospital and couldn't fly home because of a lung puncture. So my wife flew down to drive me 1831km home to Brisbane.

My boss offered me a Lexus RX450h which was ending its time at Carsguide on a long-term test. Lexus kindly obliged to the extra kilometres.

Unless it had air suspension, it couldn't be a better "ambulance" for the long haul.

So now there is one more use for this Toorak Tractor other than conveying the cherished ones to private school, rugby practice or ballet lessons.

VALUE

Value? Invaluable to me with painful chest and back injuries! The hybrid Lexus comes in three models, Prestige ($89,788), Sports ($96,787) and Sports Luxury ($108,900) which we drove.

The top model comes with everything so the only option is 19-inch tyres. That's still about $10,000 more than the petrol model, but it has the best car audio system you can get - Mark Levinson audio system valued at $3000.

There is only one other hybrid luxury SUV to compare it with and that's the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid S at $160,800. However, most buyers would also consider diesels such as the Audi Q7 ($88,614- $254,814), BMW X5 ($92,100-$113,300) and Mercedes-Benz ML ($85,780-$92,425).

TECHNOLOGY

It's a hybrid, so it's powered by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor and a host of environmental and fuel-saving technologies.

That alone is plenty of technology, but it also features adaptive cruise control, head-up display, satellite navigation, dusk sensing xenon headlamps with cornering function, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, six-CD/DVD tuner, Bluetooth, self-folding electric wing mirrors with puddle lamps, power windows, electrically adjustable seats and steering column with three memory settings, heated and ventilated front leather seats and a mouse-style controller for the infotainment system.

Our test model was more than a year old so it didn't have the USB connectivity it now comes with.

SAFETY

Part of the technology overload are the safety systems that put my injured frame at ease. It comes with several safety systems to prevent a crash and minimize damage and injuries in a crash: pre-collision system, vehicle dynamic integrated management, and intelligent adaptive front lighting system. There are also 10 airbags, a reversing camera and a host of electronic aids with acronyms such as ABS, EBA, EBD and ESC that keep it on track.

DESIGN

I've always liked the slightly curvy, feminine lines of the RX, Q7 and Cayenne. To me they are a refreshing change from the chunky, macho X5 and ML. The RX450h has styling features to differentiate it from the RX350 petrol models including a turbofan-style grille, blue-trimmed Lexus hybrid logos, blue tinted tail lamps and AFS LED headlamps.

Step inside and you can't help notice the illuminated blue "Lexus" on the doorstep. The rest of the cabin is similar except for the added features. Everything is practical, tasteful and comfortable.

DRIVING

To me the most important features were the comfortable and quiet cabin, and the long-travel suspension with double wishbone rear for a nice, plush ride. And on the Hume Highway's concrete joins, the bumpy roads north of Albury and Newcastle, and the road works between Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay, it was a blessing. However, to most buyers the most important thing is the fuel economy from the hybrid powerplant.

Hybrids are really most frugal when they are in city stop-start traffic where the petrol engine is used minimally. On the highway, the electric motor is hardly ever deployed. Lexus quotes highway fuel consumption figures of 6.1 litres per 100km. With very little city or suburban driving, we used a total of 148.3 litres which is an average of 8.1L/100km.

It's difficult to write a road test of a car I hardly drove, but my wife's comments are pertinent.

She said it drives "like a car". She also liked the head-up display which shows speed and satnav directions on the windscreen in front of the driver, but she said her Polaroid sunglasses negated the images. She liked the adaptive cruise control, but in heavy rain they stopped and the screen said "cruise control not available". She didn't like the wood and leather steering wheel. She said the wood became hot and sticky in the sun and slippery when cold. She also found the rain-sensitive windscreen wipers unpredictable.

I like the convenience of the 12V power outlet, the easy-to-use mouse-style controller for the infotainment system and the neat storage under the centre console. When I finally got to drive the Lexus for short distances under doctor's orders, I found the driving position easily adjusted to suit. I also like the way the seat and steering wheels move away when you want to get out of the car. With its hip-high seats, it is also easy to get in and out without having to squat or pull yourself up - great in my condition.

LEXUS RX450h

Price: $108,900
Warranty: 4 years/100,000km
Resale: 90%
Servicing interval: 15,000km
Economy: 6.4 l/100km; 150g/km CO2
Safety equipment: 10 airbags, ABS, EBD, stability control
Crash rating: 5 stars
Engine: 220kW/317Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol and electric motor
Transmission: Continuously variable
Body: 5-door, 5 seats 
Dimensions: 4770mm (L); 1885mm (W); 1720mm (H); 2740mm (WB)
Weight: 2205kg
Tyres: 235/55 R19
Spare: Full-size spare an option

Pricing Guides

$26,888
Based on 17 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$13,999
Highest Price
$37,880

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
RX450h Prestige 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $22,990 – 23,990 2011 Lexus RX 2011 RX450h Prestige Pricing and Specs
RX450h Sports 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $13,999 – 37,880 2011 Lexus RX 2011 RX450h Sports Pricing and Specs
RX350 Sports Luxury 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $15,730 – 20,130 2011 Lexus RX 2011 RX350 Sports Luxury Pricing and Specs
RX450h X Special Edition 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $19,250 – 24,420 2011 Lexus RX 2011 RX450h X Special Edition Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Pricing Guide

$13,999

Lowest price, based on 14 car listings in the last 6 months

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