Daily Archives: June 5, 2013

2013 Lexus RX450h review

Introduction

The 2013 Lexus RX 450h SUV is a luxury car without a luxury fuel tank. Unlike a regular gasoline-powered car, this hybrid is equipped with a 3.5 liter V6 in conjunction with electric motors run on battery packs. The batteries charge automatically, capturing energy usually lost in braking. Electric motors assist during acceleration, greatly reducing gasoline consumption.

The hybrid components for the RX 450h price it at about $6,000 more than the all-gas-burning RX 350. According to the EPA, an average driver would have to own the RX 450h for approximately eight years for enough fuel savings to pay for the added cost of the hybrid model.

Body Design

Lexus has made the purchasing option for the RX 450h simple, with only the basic trim level available. This standard trim’s exterior has 18-inch wheels, LED running lamps and fog lights, a power lift gate, automatic on/off headlights, and rear privacy glass.

Interior Design and Options

The 2013 RX 450h SUV seats five, with plenty of space and comfort in the front. It also offers an ergonomic front center console, power steering wheel with tilt and telescope capabilities, and eight-way power front seats with independent lumbar controls. Passengers will appreciate the reclining rear seating and dual-zone climate control system. Standard electronics include an emergency communications system, Bluetooth capability, and 9-speaker audio system with CD changer and MP3/USB interface.

Unfortunately, room for tall or long-legged rear passengers is mediocre at best, and the materials in the RX 450h are not up to par with expectations of Lexus sedan owners. Some of the moldings feel like plastic, less supple leather is used on the seats, and oppressive dark wooden trim may bring horror films to mind. Those who have driven other Lexus models may also notice that the Rx450h allows more outside noise, making the ride less relaxing.

Drive Impression

The 2013 Lexus RX 450h hybrid powertrain is both fuel efficient and powerful, providing a good overall drive quality. The engine shuts down upon stopping, and starts again when accelerating from a standstill. The noise of the two engine components is minimal, although a low rumble becomes noticeable as speed increases. For an SUV, the suspension is fairly conservative and soft-sprung, providing a relatively smooth ride. In comparison with the RX 350, the additional weight of the RX 450h’s batteries holds the handling back a bit, but with the new standard Sport Mode in the 2013 model, steering effort, throttle response, and transmission shifts are improved for a more engaging driving experience.

The RX 450h has a combined city/highway rating of 30 mpg, easily beating luxury hybrid SUV competitors such as the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes ML 350. Drivers can enjoy additional fuel savings by utilizing the optional “EV Mode,” which allows the RX 450h to run entirely on electrical power from the battery when driving at very low speeds.

Overall, the 2013 Lexus RX 450h is without question the most fuel-efficient luxury midsize SUV on the market. With good fuel economy, a solid drive quality and plenty of luxury interior features, the RX 450h is a sure bet for those who want both luxury and a smaller carbon footprint.