By Bob Long
The Lexus RX is the crossover that started a whole new category of vehicle when first introduced in 1998. The first generation RX 300 laid the ground work for one of hottest segments in the car buying world today the luxury crossover vehicle.
For the 2016 model year The Lexus RX is all-new.. Now in its 4th generation, this mid size luxury crossover features a bold new exterior design, revamped interior, and a bump in power over its predecessor. The vehicle has grown slightly and offers a lot of cool features.
Over the years the RX has become the Lexus brands best-selling vehicle and a benchmark for rivals such as the MDX from Acura, Mercedes GLE, Cadillac SRX and the MKX from Lincoln. My test vehicle of the week is a beautiful front wheel drive RX 450 H which combines a powerful V-6 gasoline engine with electric hybrid drive for great fuel economy.
Styling wise Lexus calls the new 2016 RX as a “dramatic re-imagining”of the benchmark crossover. In fact it is both bold and aggressive from many angles. Keeping in step with the rest of Lexus lineup the RX wears the brands signature spindle” grille up front, fluid headlight housings with LED lights, a high belt line, and the 2016 RX’s most divisive element: a flowing, blacked-out C-pillar behind the rear windows. This element makes the Lexus’ roof appear to float. You’ll like it or you won’t. Personally I like the look of the new RX but admit some will find the RX face a bit polarizing.
There are many different favors of the RX but was great to sample the hybrid model for a week. On the road the RX 450h hybrid model is super smooth and almost imperceptibly switches between gasoline and electric power. The 450h hybrid pairs a 3.5-liter V6 with a battery-electric powertrain. Like a standard Prius, no plugging in is required, but premium unleaded gasoline is recommended. The 2016 RX 450h has total output of 308 horsepower and delivers great mpg numbers. The gasoline engine alone cranks out 267 lb-ft of torque. EPA city mileage is rated at an impressive 31 MPG with a highway rating of 30 MPG. Sticker price of my loaded RX450H model came to $60.359.00
Inside the all new RX-450H is great place to spend time. Beautiful craftsmanship combined with is own unique style. One of the biggest changes for the new 2016 model is gear selector placement, which abandons its long-held position in the center dash to a more traditional spot in the console below. This opens space in the dash for easy-to-access climate and audio controls. The mouse controller just south of the gear selector is easier to operate. The seats are great, and there is plenty of legroom in back. Cargo space is very impressive, with over 18 cubic feet behind the rear seats. That number expands to over 56 cubic feet with rear seats folded.
The Lexus RX has always been well-equipped, and the latest model is no different. My loaded 450H had the very cool huge 12.3-inch infotainment display, a heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, the touch-free tailgate, navigation, a treat for audiophiles like myself in the exquisite upgraded Mark Levinson audio system. My vehicle also had a full color heads up display and the world first Touch-Free Back Door option makes it go presto by merely placing a hand near the Lexus badge.
Driving the RX 450H is a real pleasure even if you are not hybrid fan. This is one of the best systems out there in the automotive world. The RX-450H is smooth operator at all speeds much as they have been in previous generations. The vehicle is: comfortable, quiet and confident. This is an SUV for those who long for a soft ride and serenity, vs. drivers who prefer blasts down twisty roads accompanied by a roaring exhaust note. Lexus does offer an F Sport model for a more sporty flavor and sheer performance.
Bottom line if you are in the market for a five passenger high fuel economy luxury crossover SUV the all new 2018 Lexus RH-45oH is a grand slam home run.
The Long Drive Rankings
60K may seem like a lot but is not in 2016
Bold Like it or not front grille
Scale 1 low-10 High
Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 9
Fuel Economy 10
Audio System 9
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 10