ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: At $55,550, this 2014 Lexus RX 450h is a few grand more than the $51,183 2013 Lexus RX 450h we tested a while back, but it feels like a far better value than the cheaper car.
True, the ride is the same -- solid, sorted and almost magic carpet-smooth thanks in large part to a very well-integrated hybrid drive system. You never really want for power, nor do you notice the engine kicking on or off with a clunk at every stop sign. This tech should be, and is, one of Toyota's strengths; last time, the RX even nailed mileage estimates. We'll see how it does in winter driving.
I think it's the interior on this tester that helped sell the entire package despite the higher cost. Lexus isn't anywhere near German standards when it comes to interior design, and it's not quite there when it comes to material and build quality, but at least this RX had a legitimate infotainment system instead of a black and white aftermarket stereo head unit stuck in the dash.
But again, the value an RX with this build sheet seems to present is all relative. You're paying a fairly hefty premium for a hybrid crossover -- about $10,000.
Since the average car buyer in America holds on to their vehicle for something like six years, I'd venture that the average buyer of a hybrid Lexus RX will never realize any economic benefit due to fuel economy gains. So you're buying this SUV because you enjoy the smooth operation and power delivery of a good hybrid drive system (this isn't a ridiculous notion these days; look at what Infiniti is trying to do with the Q50 Hybrid) or because you are trying to make a green statement. A giant, honking, 4,652-pound green statement.
I think the latter is more likely at this point, which makes the RX 450h a car Lexus is compelled to build because some people feel compelled to be seen in them. I'm not sure how far the price of hybrid tech will have to fall, or how high the price of gasoline will have to rise, before that's not the case.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I don't mind the way this RX 450h looks in a parking spot. It's a smaller, useful-sized SUV, and what a great approach angle, the nose nearly comes to a point. But unless you're in love with that shape, or the Lexus seats, which are admittedly great, the RX 450h is a pass.
After performing a cost/benefit analysis, I think the RX 350 makes better sense. The RX 450h gets 9 mpg better than the RX 350, 20 mpg combined to 29 mpg combined. The 350 costs about $7,000 less. For that you can buy about 2,000 gallons of gas at about $3.50 per gallon. After 100,000 miles, you'll have spent $12,068 in gas for the hybrid, $17,500 in the RX 350. That still doesn't make up the $7,000 premium.
I don't think the power is that great, either. Total system power is pegged at 295, which is barely enough to move this RX around, even in sport mode. You really have to push the pedal down to get any oomph, and I think a luxury SUV buyer would be disappointed in that. You can't hear the engine kicking on and off, but I would trade that in heartbeat for a bit more power. The AWD system was great, and kept me rolling over snow-packed and icy roads.
Steering was surprisingly heavy, again for a luxury SUV. And the regenerative brakes had me a little worried, too. A driver in front of me slowed quickly, I had to give them a good push. It went from not slowing down to locked up on ice; I had to abandon the lane to make sure I didn't hit anybody. In fairness to the Lexus, the guy had no brake lights, so I stomped a little harder than I may have had to.
I do like the interior, like most Lexus vehicles. Of course the seats were comfy, and all of the electronics were easy to use. My only complaint is the dark navigation screen at night. When it's zoomed in, the background is black and the side streets are dark gray. It's very hard to pay attention to when trying to find your way. I like the matte wood finish on the steering wheel, which seems like a classier way of doing things.
If you like the RX, my advice is go with the 350 and try to keep your foot light. Another choice is the Acura RDX, which starts at about $40K and has 300 hp and gets 22 mpg combined.
2014 Lexus RX 450h
Base Price: $48,720
As-Tested Price: $55,550
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6 hybrid; AWD, continuously variable transmission
Output: 245 hp @ 6,000 rpm (295 hp net system output), 234 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,652 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 30/28/29 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 27.4 mpg
Options: Premium package including leather trim interior, blind spot monitor system, bamboo interior trim and steering wheel, one-touch open/close moonroof, power-folding auto-dimming heated outside mirrors, driver's seat/steering/mirror memory ($3,060); navigation system including backup camera, Lexus Enform, destination assist, eDestination, SiriusXM NavTraffic, NavWeather, stocks, sports & fuel prices ($2,775); Mark Levinson premium surround sound DVD/CD player, HD radio, Apple iTunes tagging, 15 speakers ($995)
Article SOURCE: this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.