Lexus RX 450h

Premier

Lexus RX450h, driving
Lexus RX450h, front
Lexus RX450h, rear quarter
Lexus RX450h, dashboard
Lexus RX450h, interior
Lexus RX450h, profle
Lexus RX450h, front quarter
Lexus RX450h, headlight detail
Lexus RX450h, tail light detail

IF you're in the position of having 60 grand or so to splash on a premium SUV the Lexus RX might not be the first choice that springs to mind.

With impressive offerings available from the usual German suspects, Jaguar Land Rover and also in the shape of the Volvo XC90, competition is stiff in the luxury 4x4 marketplace.

Despite this, though, the RX is historically Lexus' best-selling model worldwide and has found a home on the driveways of nearly 43,000 United Kingdom households to date.

The fourth generation, which went on sale early this year, aims to build on that solid foundation and is well worth a look for those who might want something a bit different.

It certainly stands out from the crowd - thanks to a strikingly angular look which echoes that of the much more recently launched compact NX SUV.

But it also offers, in hybrid form at least, appealingly low running costs for a large SUV and an interior which matches pretty much anything in the class for luxury and equipment.

Dominating the front end is the most imposing interpretation yet of the marque's familiar ‘spindle' grille, while elsewhere sharp creases and edges are very much the order of the day, with a steeply raked tailgate, roof spoiler and dual chrome-tipped exhausts finishing things off at the rear.

A muscular and imposing presence is further enhanced by the fact that this RX is longer and wider than it's predecessor, with increased ground clearance.

Power comes from either a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, in the RX 200t or Lexus' renowned full hybrid system in the RX 450h, featuring a 3.5-litre V6 power pack and a couple of electric motors.

The hybrid I drove is likely to be the popular choice thanks to its superior fuel economy and punchy performance.

Mated to a constantly variable automatic transmission it offers a total output of 308bhp and will propel this substantial motor from 0-62mph in a spritely 7.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 124 miles per hour, while delivering a claimed 51.4 miles per gallon.

All that power, though, is delivered smoothly and evenly and the focus is on a comfortable and relaxing driving experience rather than excitement.

The RX 450h wafts effortlessly along on the open road in languid, undisturbed fashion - and pottering around in town is equally serene as electric-only mode takes over when conditions allow.

The intelligent all-wheel drive system ensures grip remains assured in less than optimal conditions and accurate, responsive steering means that handling is nimble for a car of this size, although you'll be glad of the standard reversing camera in car parks.

The lavishly appointed interior suits the laid-back feel of the RX and is definitely in keeping with Lexus' premium status - offering a refined and spacious travelling environment with plenty of bells and whistles.

Even entry level S grade cars, only available in RX 200t guise, get leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, rear privacy glass, satnav with an eight-inch display screen, a nine-speaker audio system with digital radio and that reversing camera.

By the time you get to the range-topping Premier spec of the car I drove, which is exclusive to the hybrid version, you want for nothing.

Additional highlights include 10-way power adjustable front seats with memory settings and power lumbar support; a colour head-up display; a 12.3-inch display screen; 15-speaker premium Mark Levinson surround sound audio system; 360-degree around view monitor; powered tailgate; and a heated steering wheel.

Customers can also select their preference between a standard sunroof or opening panoramic glass roof.

FAST FACTS

Lexus RX 450h Premier

Price:£59,495

Mechanical: 259bhp, 3,456cc, 6cyl petrol engine and two electric motors driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 51.4

Insurance Group:42

C02 emissions:127g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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