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Introduction & Exterior


Lexus RX450h Hybrid SUV - Preview

What's the world's best-selling luxury SUV? Look no further than the Lexus RX. First launched a little over a decade ago as the RX300, the ‘crossover' RX model line has proven especially popular in the US where, as a ‘Sport Luxury Vehicle' with its elevated ‘command' driving position, the option of all-wheel-drive and a relatively sleek exterior coupled with a well-appointed but practical interior, they sold like Big Macs on National Burger Discount Day.

The RX evolved over the years and in 2005 came the RX400h, the world's first luxury hybrid-powered car. At last, here was a big, plush motor that allowed the Hampstead mum on the school run to look the leaflet-toting eco warrior straight in the eye and confidently say, "Sod off Swampy, my car's GREEN".

Now comes the latest in the line, the RX450h, the third-generation RX with second-gen, full series/parallel hybrid drive, capable of operation in both petrol and electric modes alone, or in a combination of both.

My time with the RX450h was limited - a few hours on the recent dynamic press launch in Hungary - so chapter and verse on all of its assets, features and functions isn't possible. So here follows a ‘first drive' rather than a ‘full test'.

First thing to note is the new model's subtly re-styled exterior. Parked alongside an older RX the changes to the grille, lights and more are obvious, but when seen in isolation you forget the detail of the previous model's appearance. Frankly, it's still not my cup of tea aesthetically, and never was, but who am I to disagree with so many?

The interior, specifically the dash and centre console, has been the subject of a major re-design and has little in common with previous RXs. We'll get to the interior features and equipment later, but first a quick run-down of some of the 450h's other major updates.

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