Lexus RX 450h

Lexus RX450h, front
Lexus RX450h, front
Lexus RX450h, side
Lexus RX450h, rear
Lexus RX450h, rear
Lexus RX450h, interior
Lexus  RX450h, interior

THE previous Lexus RX could get lost in a crowd of three SUVs in a supermarket car park.

Bland to look, safe as houses but rather unexciting to drive.

Not so the 2016 version. With its huge gaping grille, sharp angles and futuristic shape, the posh arm of Toyota has produced a luxury all-wheel-drive that's guaranteed to attract attention wherever it goes.

Maybe not all the comments will be positive, but the hybrid SUV rarely goes unnoticed, even if it does creep up on you with barely a murmur when it's in electric mode.

With a powerful 3.5-litre V6 matched to an electric motor, the RX is able to offer punchy acceleration throughout the range allied to reasonable economy.

Fuel figures are at their most impressive around town when the electric motor takes the strain.

Although with a CO2 level of just 127g/km - great for company car drivers - you might expect around the 50mpg mark...but the reality in every day driving as about 34mpg.

It picks up its heels well with a sprint to 60mph in under eight seconds and mid range pull is strong, thanks partly to the re-worked CVT gearbox - continuous variable transmission - which is smooth and far less frenetic than most similar systems.

Noise levels, even when the V6 is being worked hard, are low and there's a general air of refinement aided by the luxurious cabin with leather seating and beautifully crafted mouldings.

A large wide-screen dominates proceedings on the dash and a broad central console divides driver and passenger creating a snug, comfortable driving environment.

The screen which also contains the sat-nav is operated by a mouse-style control knob which is quite sensitive, making adjustments tricky, especially on the move over bumpy or undulating roads.

The cabin has ample room for four adults, or even five at a pinch. But the rear boot is less generously proportioned than many rivals, and the platform is quite high.

The sloping roofline also limits the height of cargo. With rear seats in place there's space for 458 litres of luggage, and 924 litres when the back seats are folded - an easy 20 second exercise.

As a motorway cruiser, the RX really comes into its own. Brisk, yet softly sprung with a whisper-quiet engine, the miles are swallowed up in comfort.

It is less at home being hustled along windy country lanes where body roll becomes more apparent. Even so, poor surfaces are coped with well and few jolts or jerks are passed through to the passenger compartment.

With a price tag of £54,935, you expect a decent level of standard equipment, and the Lexus doesn't disappoint. LED lighting all round, illuminated door handles, roof rails, electric steering column adjustment and power driver's seat are all included.

I particularly liked the automatic mirrors which adjust to a lower angle to allow a better view when reverse gear is engaged.

FAST FACTS

Lexus RX 450h

Price: £54,935

Mechanical:259bhp, 3,456cc, 6cyl petrol engine with 76bhp electric motor driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 51.4

Insurance Group: 41

C02 emissions: 127g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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