2017 Lexus RX450h – Test Drive, Review, Ratings, Specs

2017 Lexus rx450hMaking it Rain with the Lexus RX450h Hybrid SUV

You’ll find the Lexus RX450h somewhere on the top right corner of the Lexus website where its hefty price finds its rightful location on your computer screen. And only those financially daring enough would click that image of that ultra modern and beautifully sculpted large-size SUV.

There’s a lot more to show for than its grand-sized silk smooth outer shell. The RX450h is some form of a super hybrid power plant described by its D4-S injection 3.5L V6 gasoline engine assisted by not one, but two high-torque electric motors. But that’s if you opt for the more extravagant all-wheel-drive powertrain configuration that’s capable of transferring power ratio of 100:0 to the front wheels and equally distributing a 50:50 percent power ratio between the front and rear wheels when loss of traction is detected in slippery or when road conditions.

The Germans are the biggest threat when it comes to competition in the luxury segment. And when it comes to the hybrid SUV class, there’s plenty out there that heavily stacks up against the RX450h. The BMW X5, Mercedes ML-Class and Audi Q7 all possess high-end luxury qualities while offering attractive alternatives towards a hybrid electric powertrain configuration.

Performance and Capability

Off the line, the RX450h behaves just like many other hybrids out there with not much of an optimistic acceleration. But the engine does kick in and makes a seamless power transition to aid in more torque delivery when the vehicle speed picks up. And although the D4-S 3.5L V6 engine is capable of producing 295 horsepower and 268 lb.ft of torque alone, my week’s worth driving experience didn’t reveal the power output that I expected from that of a pure V6. But that could be due to the added two electric motors and lithium ion battery packs that contributes to a final curb weight of 4,740 lbs. That’s an extra 358 lbs added compared to the non AWD RX450 model.

2017 Lexus rx450h

The AWD system works, but its delay in how quick torque is transferred to the rear wheels in slippery or wet road conditions is noticeable.  With that said, the dual motor AWD system is probably still in a state of infancy that seem to require working out the kinks.  Perhaps later models will show more promise in improved AWD performance.

2017 Lexus rx450h

Even after configuring the RX450h with the F-Sport model that comes equipped with the active variable suspension (AVS) that dynamically controls the suspension damping based on road conditions, cornering in the RX450h does reveal some of its shortcomings though. There is a noticeable mount of chassis body roll when throwing the RX450h around the corner and steering also feels loose with not much road feedback and and a fair amount of dead zone. But nevertheless, the RX450h drives very smooth and comfortably with on normal city and highway driving. And its enlarged 20″ wheels and active dampening system does indeed; help make the RX450h feel more stable when riding over loose terrain or rough snow conditions.

2017 Lexus rx450h

The RX450h fuel efficiency scores an EPA rating of of a combined 30 mpg and I was able to achieve 28.8 mpg on mixed city and highway driving during my week’s test, which is pretty impressive given its size and weight class. That is an improvement of 4 mpg combined for its naturally aspirated RX350 non-hybrid model.

Styling and Interior

It only takes a quick glimpse to realize the large scale size of the RX450h. It stands at a tall height of 67.7 inches with an overall length of 192.5 inches. With that said, these large dimensions translate into a very roomy and open interior cabin space. Adding to that is a shear amount of practicality that can be had with the RX450h by providing a cargo space of 18 cu.ft in the trunk area. With the seat electronically folded down by a push button mounted on the rear seats, the cargo capacity increases to 55.9 cu.ft

Interior seems a bit bland with a very quiet color scheme and choice of soft leather panels used throughout the interior space. But it gives an overall sense of comfort and quietness within the cabin space with minimal fuss. There’s plenty of room up front thanks to its conveniently placed center console infotainment screen. And thanks to its large chassis dimensions, there’s a plethora of headroom and leg space of 44.1 and 38 inches of leg space for front and rear passengers respectively. And because engine usage is kept to a minimal, generating cabin heat during cold weather conditions is pain of inconvenience for those that like to stay warm.

2017 Lexus rx450h

A notable accolade worth mentioning is its triangular A-pillar windows that extends visibility for front passengers.. The F-Sport trim model equipped with our tester also comes with a panoramic sunroof that continues to heighten the sense of luxury and space when filling in the interior with natural sun light.

Final Thoughts

It all sounds great until you’re hit in the face with the the final price tag of our 2017 Lexus RX450h F-Sport trim. And that’s a whopping $79,121 by the time the keys are handed to you. Don’t get me wrong though. The ultra sleek sharp styling of its outer shell coupled with amazing fuel economy and a smooth drive marks the RX450h a rightful place in the luxury hall of fame. But for such a heavy price tag, I expect a bit more. There wasn’t much of a “sporty” element the RX450h possessed. That also didn’t include heated steering and I’m still left cold in the freezing winter even with the heater blasting at the highest temperature setting. And finally, there’s also the fact that the RX450h spans roughly the same dimensions as the Mazda CX-9 that can fit 7 passengers, while the RX450h is only offers dual row seating with a maximum of 5 passengers.

2017 Lexus rx450h

Specifications

  • Vehicle : 2017 Lexus RX450h
  • Model : RX450h
  • Vehicle Type : Hybrid SUV
  • Seating Capacity : 2+3
  • Engine : D4-S 3.5L V6 Engine + 2 Electric Motor
  • Horsepower: 305 horsepower, 265 lb.ft torque
  • Transmission :  6 speed automatic
  • Price as tested: $79,121

Pros

  • Sharp and sporty styling
  • Clean and comfortable interior
  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Quiet and comfortable ride
  • Exceptional leg room and cargo space

Cons

  • Expensive price tag
  • Lack of driving performance
  • Bland interior styling (although comfortable)
  • Lack of expected amenities for its price tag
  • All-Wheel-Drive performance is sub-par