Lexus RX 450h+ F Sport Design: Long Term Review

By Jeremy Taylor & Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby

2 weeks ago

Jeremy Taylor & Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby take a family friendly hybrid for a spin


Long before the boom in SUVs there was the family friendly Lexus RX. Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and sustainable fashion expert Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby drive the fifth generation model: the Lexus RX 450h+ F Sport Design.

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Lexus RX 450h+ F Sport Design

Lexus RX 450h+ F Sport Design

J-TP – Is this the most grown-up SUV we’ve tested in a while? It’s a smashing shade of Azure Blue.

JT – Quite possibly, yes. Unlike the rather brash and ubiquitous Land Rover Defender, the Lexus RZ projects an air of refined calm. It may not be designed for off-roading but I doubt many SUV owners like to dirty their tyres anyway.

Which may explain why when you meet one head-on a narrow lane, the driver is terrified to ‘off-road’ on the grass verge!

It’s fairly comical but what can you do? I recently had to reverse a McLaren supercar into a gateway because the oncoming Defender was polished to perfection. The driver just wouldn’t nudge in to the hedge.

But we digress. What’s the story with this rather stylish Lexus?

The Lexus in a field

Our plug-in, 450h hybrid car is in the middle of a RX range that starts with the less powerful 350h and ends with a sporty 500h. It combines a 2.5-litre petrol engine with a plug-in hybrid system. Lexus says that will allow the RX to cover up to 40 miles on battery power only.

And because it’s a plug-in hybrid, that has tax benefits for business users, right?

Correct. An 18.1kWh battery pack connects to an electric motor on both the front and rear axles, offering a respectable 304bhp and all-wheel drive grip. That said, equivalent BMWs and Mercedes are quicker.

That’s true. The 450h isn’t exactly a car for spirited driving. It’s excellent at high-speed motorway cruising – relaxed and quiet – although the economy takes a hit when the battery runs out and the petrol engine kicks in. On a twisty Cotswolds’ A-road, noise levels are up and the automatic gearbox whines.

But the RX is a lovely place to travel. Our F Sport Design version is loaded with equipment and features. The suspension smooths out potholes, while eight-way, multi-adjustable electric seats are among the best I’ve sat on in ages.

The sound system is also top notch but the menu system on the 14-inch infotainment screen is best described as ‘quirky’. Plenty of room in the back for three adults, even though the roof slopes steeply at the rear. That boot could be bigger too.

Inside the car

Yes, the RX feels comfortable and suitably premium for the money. Expect to pay around £74,100 for the plug-in hybrid, although the rest of the RX range starts at a more reasonable £62,000.

And we are unlikely to have any reliability issues because this is a Lexus, right?

Indeed. Unlike our long-term Defender which broke down en route to the ballet, Lexus has a strong reputation for customer satisfaction.

OK, let’s see how we get on over the next six weeks. Pass that charger cable…

The rear of the Lexus RX 450h+ F Sport Design

EXPLORE

Discover more about the Lexus RX 450h+ F Sport Design at lexus.co.uk

Jessica Talbot-Ponsonby is Director of Programmes at London College of Fashion, studying for a PhD in sustainable e-textile design.