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    Quick Drive: 2014 Lexus RX 450h


    • Lexus RX, Take 2

    Time for a pop quiz everyone. Your question: What was the first luxury crossover that was offered with a hybrid powertrain?

    Time is up! The answer is the Lexus RX. The first hybrid RX was introduced back 2004 and has gone through a number of revisions up to the model seen here; the 2014 Lexus RX 450h. Is it worth the almost $7,000 more over the standard RX 350 to save some gas?

    Like the last RX I drove last year, the RX 450h has gotten some design tweaks. The most noticeable change is up front with the addition of the spindle grille and new headlights. Like the previous RX, I found myself wondering if the spindle grille works on the RX. After a week, I found myself saying no.

    The RX 450h comes with Lexus' Hybrid Drive system which pairs a 3.5L DOHC V6 and three electric motors on all-wheel drive models. Front-wheel drive models feature two. This produces a total output of 295 horsepower. The powertrain provided adequate power no matter the situation, putting it in the midpack of luxury crossovers when talking about crossovers.

    There are four different drive modes available in the RX. First is Eco which increases throttle resistance and reduces power from the climate control system to improve efficiency. I ran this mode for most of the week and didn't noticed that the throttle had more resistance whenever I put my foot down. Next is Sport which tweaks the throttle to make it a bit ore lively. I drove with this mode briefly, but I couldn't tell any difference in the throttle when it was in this mode or normal. EV mode is next which allows the vehicle to run on electric power alone. I found this to be more of a gimmick than an actual feature as it only let me drive a limited distance and below 25. Wrapping up the modes is Normal which offers a nice balance between Eco and Sport.

    The transmission is a CVT and for the most part, the transmission does its job well. You don't notice it's a CVT till you put your foot to the floor and CVT groan makes an appearance. Keep your foot off the floor and CVT keeps to itself.

    Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined. My week in the RX hybrid netted me 26.9 MPG. Somewhat disappointing as I had the vehicle in Eco mode for most of the week.

    As for the RX 450h's ride, I was confused. I was expecting a comfortable and smooth riding crossover. But instead, I got a firm riding crossover. The ride was a bit bouncy and I could feel most bumps. As I wrote in my notes, 'I think Lexus' ride engineers mixed up the suspension settings for the RX 350 F-Sport and RX 450h'. The steering also felt a bit off. It wasn't too light or heavy, but felt like there was a lot of resistance when I was turning the wheel.

    After spending a week with the RX 450h and reading through my notes, I can say that you are better off passing on the RX 450h. The added cost for the hybrid does give you slightly better fuel economy, but offers a worse ride and steering than the standard RX. You're better off sticking with the regular RX 350.

    Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 450h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Lexus

    Model: RX

    Trim: 450h

    Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-i, Three 650V Electric Motors

    Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 245 @ 6,000 (3.5L V6), 155 @ 0 (Front Electric Motor), 67 @ 0 (Rear Electric Motor), 295 (Total Output)

    Torque @ RPM: 234 @ 4,800

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/28/29

    Curb Weight: 4,520 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Cambridge, Ontario

    Base Price: $47,810

    As Tested Price: $55,550 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Premium Package - $3,060

    Navigation System w/Voice Command - $2,275

    Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound - $995

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    I'd take the overly small SRX over this ugly pig any day. They have yet to build something I like.

     

    Nice write up and very informative, but I am still not impressed. Still just an also ran CUV!

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    4500 pounds.  HEAVY

     

    The RX is aging. In comparison, a new 2014+ Acura MDX is a larger vehicle with much more sophisticated suspension tuning and higher level ride & handling, similar quietness inside, more volume, more technology, and despite the larger size...at least 300-400 pounds less depending on model, AND with 4+ mpg higher highway efficiency it really gets.

     

    The RX remains an incredibly well known car, but is old and a tweener. Costs more than many larger 7 passenger crossovers, and is not as refined or well polished as something like an MDX. We have clients compare RX and MDX every day...even though the RX is more comparable from a size perspective to the RDX...and unless you definitely want a softer, mushier "classic Lexus" car in base form, and smaller dimensions, there's no reason it wins out.

     

    Even the RDX is not as plush or refined as either RX/MDX, but gets it's large share of conquest customers from previous Lexus RX owners looking for something different.

     

    Will be interesting to see what they do with the next gen and/or a larger 7-seater model...since the latest IS sedan, NX small crossover, etc. are more impressive than any previous Lexus models, and they are finally figuring out suspension tuning a bit better.

     

    This is also a case of where the "Hybrid" model is so unnecessary, it just isn't helpful other than name recognition and hopefully some profit for Lexus. It does have better ratings...but heavy car, plus V6, plus battery packs doesn't always mean real world mileage success.

    Edited by caddycruiser
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    $55k and I don't even get 3rd row?  Thanks, but you'll find me at the Buick dealership in an Enclave.

     

    Hopefully the Enclave gets an improvement and update soon...the driving dynamics are getting old, and it feels big, plus the tech is old school.

     

    Great car, due for updates, especially powertrain, etc. Though that will probably be my mothers next vehicle to replace the 2nd Terrain...when lease up time comes.

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