Reviewed: 2016 Lexus RX450h F-Sport

Luxury crossover buyers are demanding, and reasonably so. Most want style first and foremost, then a balance blend of power, comfort, technology and safety.

Lexus knows this, as it was a trailblazer of the segment nearly 20 years ago with the first RX300. It featured everything a Lexus sedan offered, added all-wheel-drive and a higher ride height.

Today’s RX450h utilizes a much more powerful 3.5L gasoline engine mated to two electric motors, one in the front and one in the rear, that produce a total 308 horsepower. A good burst of it is available at low speeds thanks to the instant torque of the motors. Power is transmitted through a CVT, translating that power to smooth, rocket-like acceleration with no gear shifting.

Best of all? The RX450h averaged 33 mpg in our week of testing. The RX300 of the late 90s could only dream of such a feat, and it was no where near as roomy, heavy or powerful.

Taking our foot of the accelerator for a minute, the exterior is what matters most on the RX. Not only is this the most beautifully designed sheetmetal we’ve seen on a luxury SUV, we’d say it directly competes with its equally handsome and smaller brother the NX. Both designers deserve a round of applause for the floating roof design, creased metal and attention grabbing grille. The F-Sport package lends itself to being the better looking of the RXs’.

At night, LED lighting accentuates the design ever further.

Open the door and a whiff of delicious, soft Lexus leather pours out. We swear there’s a Lexus perfume that the leather is soaked in for days, much like a fine cut of meat in butter.

The interior is a designer’s fantasy. Curves, lines, woods, metals and fabrics mesh together to create a cohesive package that fits within the RX’s body. It’s so stunning that its has won numerous design awards.

Getting a grip on the fact that this masterpiece needs to be driven someplace, we appreciate that Lexus didn’t do away with the basics of how to operate an automobile. The shifter, steering wheel, smart key push button and plenty of knobs and buttons for entertainment and HVAC remain.

The Lexus infotainment system and hand controller were easy to operate while moving, though we’d like to see a rounded joystick instead of a flat one for better control. Audio through the Mark Levinson system was heavenly.

The heated/cooled seats adjust in an endless number of ways; perfect for a wide variety of body shapes and sizes. Bolstering was perfect, not too much, not too little. The heated steering wheel made cool early mornings much more bearable too.

Of course this wouldn’t be a Lexus without a nearly endless list of safety technologies. Blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors front and rear and a panoramic view of the RX from above using four cameras make parking in even the most challenging locations a snap.

Technologies like radar cruise with a pre-collision system and automatic emergency braking are highly recommended. We found the radar cruise system worked smoothly in traffic as well as highway driving. We thankfully did not test the pre-collision system!

RX450h F-Sport presents one of, if not, the most well-rounded packages available in the luxury crossover market. All the goals are met, nothing feels like it was skimped on and if you want to show friends and family that you poses supreme powers, you can even open the tailgate with your hand hovering over the Lexus emblem!

Facts
Make: Lexus
Model: RX
Trim Level: 450h F-Sport
Engine: 3.5L 6-Cylinder Hybrid
Transmission: CVT
Observed Fuel Economy: 33.0 MPG (mixed driving)
Available Packages: Cold Weather, Nav, Blind-Spot, Heated Wheel
Base Price: $57,000
As-Tested Price: $61,000

 

 

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