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Lexus RX Test Drive Review

Date: 09 December 2015   |   Author:

Category: Large 4x4
P11D price: £52,940
Key rival: Volvo XC90
On sale: January 2016
Equipment: 10 airbags, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, 8in satnav system, digital radio, reversing camera, electric heated and ventilated leather seats, 20in alloy wheels, LED headlights
Engines: Hybrid: 3.5-litre engine with electric motor; Petrol: 2.0-litre turbocharged
Trims: S, SE, Luxury, F Sport, Premier
Transmissions: CVT auto, 6-spd auto

The RX has long been Lexus's best-seller, with its 4x4 hybrid format winning over retail and fleet customers alike.

Lexus has given the new model an injection of visual steroids, with sharply creased lines and a more upmarket cabin. CO2 emissions have also tumbled from 145g/km to 120g/km.

While similarly large Volvo and Porsche off-roaders are available in plug-in form - something Lexus won't be offering - both cost more than 100p per mile. The conventional hybrid RX450h starts at a much more palatable 90.0ppm - complete with luxuries such as electric, heated and ventilated leather seats, satnav, a reversing camera and LED headlights.

Emissions of just 120g/km (127g/km in F Sport trim tested) mean RX450h drivers can pay as little as £297 per month benefit-in-kind (40% taxpayers), which compares with £367 to £664 for diesel rivals. Volvo's XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid, however, could save users a substantial £186 tax per month.

As with the Volvo, the RX's interior revolves around comfort, with supremely supportive seats and soft, tactile leather upholstery, although several other bits of trim feel cheap and flimsy. Meanwhile, the rear seats recline, making the back of the Lexus feel much more 'business class' than the 'premium economy' of most rivals.

There's also plenty of legroom. Fitting three adults in the back is a squeeze, though, with limited headroom for those over six feet and the raised middle seat feeling cramped for adults. The boot is also small compared with rivals.

Hit the road, and the first impression is how quiet and easy to drive the RX is. Tread gently on the throttle and the 450h will pootle around on electric power, although the big 3.5-litre petrol motor cuts in with a snarl should you call upon more acceleration.

The CVT automatic gearbox lacks conventional gears meaning the engine can drone away at set engine speeds when negotiating a motorway incline for example, making the RX feel less responsive than its acceleration figures suggest.

In F Sport trim the RX offers a firm but smoother ride than the comfort-oriented Luxury model, which deals well with bumps but transmits rough surfaces to the cabin. Heavier steering also gives the driver more confidence to place the F Sport on the road, with the Luxury set-up discouraging even slightly brisk driving with substantial body roll. Refinement levels are very high, with little wind or road noise and the engine mostly inaudible.

The Lexus RX is neither the sharpest off-roader to drive nor adept off road. It's also no longer the most efficient. It is an appealing all-rounder, however, offering all the kit drivers could ever need, even in entry-level form and proving comfortable and refined.

While the XC90 hybrid will slash drivers' BIK bills further and BMW and Volvo diesel rivals are cheaper and feel more upmarket inside - albeit with a BIK penalty - the RX F Sport remains a striking alternative.

Lexus RX450h F Sport

Model price range £39,995-£57,995
Residual value 35.5%%
Depreciation £34,165
Fuel £5721
Service, maintenance and repair £3177
Vehicle Excise Duty £200
National Insurance £4822
Cost per mile 101.4p
Fuel consumption 51.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 127g/km (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month £176/£353
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 453/924 litres
Engine size/power 3456cc/313hp


Low BIK bills and hefty standard kit list tick several fleet boxes, but interior isn't plush enough
  • Unique styling
  • Low running costs and plenty of standard kit for the price
  • Quality and driver appeal lags behind similarly priced premium rivals