by Tony West and Bill P.
Lexus proves to be the reigning leader in the most fuel efficient luxury SUV’s with the 2014 RX 450h. This hybrid companion to the RX 350 combines luxury with a class leading EPA. The RX 450h looks like the typical RX with its infamous spindle grille. Upgrades include a hybrid blue badge on the grille, door, and a trunk adorned with chrome. Chrome plating is also on the door handles, lower door, and scuff plates.
LED lighting is used throughout the exterior and interior of the RX 450h comprising the daytime running lights, the brake lights, turn signals, and inside the glove box. The new RX 450h doesn’t compromise space either. The Lexus RX 450h has ample seating room with 36 inches of legroom in the front and 43 inches in the rear. The RX 450h also has reclining/sliding 40/20/40 split rear seats.[divider]
Hybrid Powertrain Best in Class
The Lexus RX 450h has an impressive powertrain, especially for an SUV. Twenty-nine mpg’s combined (30 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway) is amazing for a luxury sedan. With such great gas mileage, the RX 450h was perfect for a road trip. A 500 mile trip to Detroit only cost $60. The RX 450h is equipped with a 3.5 liter V6 Atkinson cycle engine with a 116 kW electric front drive motor. The all-wheel drive models power the rear wheels with a 50 kW motor.
The RX 450h has 295 combined horsepower, 245 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 112 mph. The direct injected DOHC engine is mated to an Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission with Intelligence and a 6-speed automatic transmission.
On the road I felt the advantages of the efficiency technology. Active Fuel Management runs the RX 450h in electric (EV) mode at low speeds which helped me make long trips and use very little fuel. And regenerative braking stores power. Active Torque Control, Vehicle Stability Management, and On Demand All-Wheel-Drive collaborate to optimize handling, acceleration, corning, and traction in every road situation. On Demand All-Wheel Drive is especially useful in the harsh winter, using an electric motor to power the rear wheels. The Vehicle Stability Management System makes the RX 450h flawless in adverse road conditions.
Double wishbone rear suspension and MacPherson Front Suspension sounds great in the specs, but wasn’t so attentive in action. The RX 450h has the familiar drive mode selector that allows drivers to switch seamlessly from normal mode for everyday cruising to sport mode with increased traction and steering, or to snow mode to reduce wheel slip.[divider]
Luxury Features from Typical to First Class
Lexus’s 2014 RX 450h had a lot of high end luxury features with sophisticated entertainment technology. Much of the RX 450’s luxury features aren’t standard in the RX 450h, but for $3,000-5,000 more the SUV can be customized to include advanced luxury and safety technology. The leather interior has optional add-ons like bamboo or wood trim, a moon roof, power lift gate, power folding side mirrors, a smog sensor with deodorizing air filter, Siri technology, and a rear seat entertainment system with dual 7-inch screens.
Standard in the RX 450h is the 12 –speaker audio system and Remote Touch Controller that adjust audio, navigation, and infotainment. Infotainment in the RX 450h is excellent with optional Voice Command, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, and Lexus Enform with App Suite for Pandora, iheartradio, and MovieTickets.com. Optional is a 15-speaker Mark Levinson Sound System.[divider]
Safety tech in the Lexus RX 450h is typical luxury Lexus with a handy backup camera and Blind Spot Monitor. The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management directs the traction control, ABS, Brake Assist, and the Vehicle Stability Control. The optional Pre Collision System uses radar sensors to detect an imminent collision and clinches seatbelts and initializes pre-braking. The RX 450h also has standard Hill Start Assist and Smart Stop technology. Optional Safety Connect will help drivers communicate in emergency situations.
Overall the 2014 Lexus RX 450h almost gets higher marks from us than its big brother, the RX 350 because of its efficient powertrain and highly functional luxury technology. I hoped more luxury features would come standard. While the RX 450h has an amazing EPA, without luxury and comfort add-ons, there wouldn’t be a reason to buy the hybrid over the RX 350. Fully loaded the RX 450 is $50,000 with an MSRP of 48k. The Comfort Package and Luxury Package make the RX 450h one of the most efficient luxury SUV’s under $60,000.