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William Maley

Quick Drive: 2014 Lexus RX 450h

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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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On 9/11/2014 at 8:05 PM, dfelt said:

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!

Impressively, a few years alter they have made this thing even uglier.

  • Haha 1

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Here is the 2018 RX, with it's Cylon tribute grille...still painfully ugly. 

223220.jpg

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8 hours ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

Here is the 2018 RX, with it's Cylon tribute grille...still painfully ugly. 

223220.jpg

My oldest sons girlfriends parents bought one and paid cash for it....she pretty much refuses to ride in it...

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    • By Drew Dowdell
      Audi is showing its expanded range of plug-in hybrids at the Geneva Auto Show next month in Switzerland.  The models gaining the new plug-in variant are the A6, A7, A8, and Q5. 
      The heart of the new Plug-In hybrids is a new 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery that offers up to 40 KM (25 miles) of electric only range. When battery power is exhausted, the turbo direct-injected gasoline engine kicks on.  Energy recuperation is split into 3 modes. Light deceleration is managed by the electric motor, medium deceleration is a combination of electric motor and the hydraulic brake system, heavy deceleration over 0.4 g is handled entirely by the brakes. The hybrid side of the braking system can recover up to 80 kw of electricity.
      Charging one of these new Audi Plug-Ins is done via a compact charging system.  At a 7.2 kW charger, a full battery charge happens in about 2 hours.  Audi's e-tron charging service grants drivers access to charging stations in 16 European countries, and Audi will support customers in getting an electrician to install a power station in their garage.  
      The myAudi app will allow owners to manage their car charging from their phone. The app will show charge status, range status, program a charging timer, and view consumption statistics.  A further convenience function is being able to remotely control the heating and air conditioning system to pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin before departure while the vehicle is being charged.  The vehicle's HVAC system runs off the high voltage battery pack. 
      The A6, A7, and Q5 will be available in two power output levels depending on trim line.  No specs have been released yet.
      The Audi A6, A7, A8, and Q5 Plug-In hybrids will be available for ordering in Europe later in 2019.  No word yet if they will be released in the U.S.
      Audi Press Release on Page 2
      Related: Audi Unveils SQ5 TDI for Europe


      Efficient and Powerful: The New Plug-In Hybrid Models Audi Q5, A6, A7 and A8
       
      Audi A8, A7 Sportback, A6 and Q5 as plug-in hybrids with a strong electric motor, high battery capacity and a new drive strategy An electric range of more than 40 km according to WLTP Convenient and networked charging with myAudi app In electric-only mode not just free of local emissions but also efficient and sporty – Audi is consistently pursuing its electrification strategy with its comprehensive plug-in hybrid offensive. Audi is presenting the hybrid variants of the models A8, A7 Sportback, A6 and Q5 with an electric range of more than 40 kilometers in the WLTP cycle at the Geneva Motor Show. Thanks to different output levels, the customer has the choice between a comfort variant and a performance variant with a sporty design, depending on the model series. The new plug-in hybrid models will be available for order during the course of the year 2019.
        Wide selection of models: The plug-in hybrid strategy of Audi
      Plug-in hybrids from medium-size SUV to luxury sedan – with Q5, A6, A7 and A8 TFSI e, Audi is expanding its range of plug-in-hybrids for sustainable mobility. Depending on the model series, there is a choice of two variants with different performance and equipment: A comfort model and a variant with a sporty configuration with S line scopes, a more tightly tuned suspension and drive setup with higher boost performance of the electric motor for more dynamic handling. From now on, the new plug-in hybrid models carry the “TFSI e” signet. In the future, the “e-tron” label will remain reserved exclusively for electrically driven cars.
      Power from two hearts: the versatile drive concept
      The plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) create enthusiasm thanks to their versatile character. In electric-only mode, for example, free of local emissions in the city, no range anxiety when driving long distances, sporty and dynamic with the with the power of two hearts from the combustion engine and electric motor: The drive concept offers a wide range.
      The electric-only range of the PHEVs will account for more than 40 kilometers in the WLTP cycle for every model. The hybrid drive concept is designed so that customers can travel on around a third of their usual routes in electric-only mode during day-to-day driving.
      All new plug-in-hybrids by Audi use a turbo-charged gasoline engine with direct injection that works together with an electric motor that is integrated in the transmission. A lithium-ion battery beneath the luggage compartment floor supplies the electrical energy. As a result, the electric motor can support the combustion engine during acceleration. The result: high start-off performance and powerful acceleration.
      At the same time, with regard to recuperation, the drive system resembles that of the new purely electrically driven Audi e-tron*. It is designed for high efficiency and maximum recuperation performance. When breaking, the new Audi PHEV models recover up to 80 kW of energy. The electric motor handles slight decelerations, i.e. the majority in everyday traffic. For medium brake applications, the task is divided between the hydraulic wheel brakes, which perform this task alone only with a deceleration of more than 0.4 g.
      The lithium-ion battery for the A6, A7 and A8 is made up of 104 pouch cells, which are combined in eight modules. It stores 14.1 kWh of energy at a voltage of 385 V. The lithium-ion battery in the Q5 comprises prismatic cells and has the same capacity. In each case, the cooling circuit of the battery is integrated in the low-temperature circuit, which supplies the electric motor and the power electronics. The power electronics transform the direct current of the high voltage-battery into a three-phase current for the electric motor; when recuperating, it does the opposite. The standard heat pump ensures efficient vehicle climate control and can generate up to 3 kW of heat energy from 1 kW of electrical energy with the waste heat occurring in the vehicle.
      The powertrain: efficient combustion engine, high-performance electric motor and large lithium-ion battery capacity
      The A8 with plug-in hybrid drive has a combustion engine and a permanently excited synchronous motor as an electric motor. It is integrated together with the clutch in the eight-gear tiptronic, which passes the torques to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive. The luxury liner drives as a 5.3-meter long A8 L variant with an extended wheelbase.
      The Audi A7 and A6 models with plug-in hybrid drive use the same powertrain. The battery capacity is identical to that of the Audi A8 PHEV. Together with the electric motor that is integrated in the dual clutch transmission, a gasoline engine ensures that there is ample output and torque. Both models are available in two output levels with different boost performance.
      The powertrain in the Audi Q5 PHEV follows the same concept as the Audi A6 and A7.
      Drive modes and drive control: Maximum comfort and high electric range
      The hybrid management of the plug-in-models is designed for maximum efficiency and customer comfort and automatically selects the optimum operation strategy. Start takes place electrically in “EV” mode as standard; the combustion engine is switched on depending on the situation.
      The plug-in hybrid models have the following drive modes: “EV,” “Auto,” and “Hold.” With the operating mode button, the driver can select from these three basic settings: Priority for the electric drive, fully automatic hybrid mode or save power for a later phase of the journey. In “Auto” mode, the PHEVs use the intelligent interaction of the electric motor and the combustion engine for maximum efficiency. In “Hold” mode, the drive management controls the powertrain so that the current charge status of the battery is maintained, e.g. for driving later in electric-only mode in urban areas.
      The predictive efficiency assist makes an essential contribution to increasing the electric range and ensuring maximum customer comfort. For this purpose, the intelligent drive management integrates the route profile into the control of the powertrain. The predictive operation strategy assesses both the navigation data during active route guidance and the information of the predictive efficiency assist as well as of the vehicle sensor system. Using this information, it creates rough planning for the entire route and fine planning for the upcoming kilometers. As a result, situations are recognized in which the driver should take their foot off the right pedal. The driver receives a corresponding visual indication on the display and haptic feedback via the active accelerator pedal. At the same time, anticipatory recuperation is initiated.
      Moreover, the driver can select between the “comfort,” “efficiency,” “auto” and “dynamic” drive modes via the familiar switches in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system and thus influence the setup of the drive, suspension and steering. Depending on the setting, the thresholds from which both drives work together or the electric motor supplies the boost and thus the maximum torque change when accelerating. In “dynamic” mode, the electric motor supports the combustion engine more intensively with its electric boost performance for maximum dynamic handling.
      The active accelerator pedal with variable pressure point for driving in electric-only mode supports the drive with haptic feedback for operation that is as efficient as possible. When the driver removes their foot from the accelerator, the vehicle glides freely in the automatic gear D and in the Audi drive select profiles “auto” and “efficiency” (under 160 km/h), where both the combustion engine and the electric motor are decoupled and switched off. On the other hand, in the S gear and in the “dynamic” profile, the electric motor remains active in deceleration mode and recuperates, i.e. it converts the kinetic energy into electrical energy.
      The optional Audi virtual cockpit and the MMI display present all important notifications concerning electric driving: a power meter, the range and all energy flows.
      Versatile – not only with regard to the drive: Model strategy and equipment lines
      Audi offers the A6, A7, and Q5 each as comfort models and sporty and dynamic variants. The latter are being launched with particularly sporty equipment: Apart from the increased boost of the electric motor, they have an S line exterior package as standard. In addition, the A6 and A7 have a black styling package with darkened trims, brake calipers painted in red, and privacy window glazing in the rear compartment. The performance hybrids also place sporty touches in the interior. The A6 and A7 have a sport suspension as standard.
      Convenient: Charging with the e-tron Charging Service
      The compact charging system is also part of the standard equipment of the new Audi plug-in hybrids. It comprises cables for the domestic and industrial sockets and a control panel. 
      As an option, Audi supplies the wall-holder clip and a mode 3 cable for public charging stations. At a charge connector with an output of 7.2 kW, a full charge of the battery takes a good two hours.
      While on the go, customers can charge the new plug-in hybrid models conveniently. A charging service owned by Audi, the e-tron Charging Service, grants access to a large number of public charging stations in 16 European countries on request. Preparations are being made to introduce this in other countries. Just one card is sufficient to begin charging with numerous providers. Customers have to register one time on the myAudi portal and conclude a charging contract that is subject to a fee. Invoicing always takes place at the end of the month using the stored method of payment.
      At the market launch of the Audi e-tron*, Audi customers can supply their house and their garage with eco-electricity, generated free of CO2 emissions, from the “Volkswagen Naturstrom” brand. It is generated 100% from renewable sources, such as hydroelectric power plants, and its origin is certified by TÜV every year. In addition, if necessary, Audi supports customers in getting them in contact with an electrician for implementing a suitable charging solution in their own garage.
      Charge Management from the Couch: The myAudi app
      The myAudi app is also a practical tool for dealing with the vehicle. The app brings services from the Audi connect portfolio to the customer’s smartphone. Using the app, the customer can remotely check the battery and range status, start the charging process, program the charge timer and view the charge and consumption statistics.
      Another function of the myAudi app is the pre-entry climate control even before setting off. It is made possible because the compressor of the air conditioning and the auxiliary heater in the vehicle work on a high-voltage basis. The customer can determine exactly how the interior should be heated or cooled while the vehicle is parked or the battery is being charged. Depending on the respective vehicle equipment, heating of the steering wheel, seats, mirror, windshield and rear window as well as the seat ventilation can be activated via the pre-entry climate control. Rapid start of the climate components is also possible when unlocking the vehicle with the key.
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