Lexus RX (2015) Review
Lexus RX (2015) At A Glance
The Lexus RX has a couple of key strengths. The firm’s reliability and customer service are the envy of the motor industry, and if you fancy the idea of an SUV that’s also a self-charging hybrid, this is one of the few choices you have. If you spend your days tiptoeing around urban environments, where the RX can make maximum use of the electric bits of its powertrain, then it’ll make a lot of sense, but if you spend your days chugging up and down motorways, you’ll probably be better off with a diesel-powered rival like the Audi Q7 or BMW X5.
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It’s fair to say that the British public have never quite taken to the Lexus brand with quite the same enthusiasm as the Americans or the Japanese, but the RX is one of the firm’s success stories in the UK.
Now in its fourth generation, it’s historically one of the firm’s best-selling cars on these shores, with earlier versions offering buyers an alternative choice in the luxury SUV market in the days when there weren’t that many to choose from. These days, though, buyers can barely move for all the luxury SUVs fighting for their custom. So, what does the latest RX do in order to stand out from a very crowded crowd?
Well, there’s one key difference, and that’s that the RX is a self-charging hybrid. Not a mild hybrid, not a plug-in hybrid, but a self-charging hybrid. Examples of both alternatives are now plentiful in the luxury SUV market, but the RX sits somewhere in between.
With a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and two electric motors to provide occasional all-electric drive, along with permanent electrically assisted drive, it’s more sophisticated and more efficient than a mild hybrid, which might employ something as simple as a posh starter motor to technically qualify as a hybrid.
That said, it can’t match the all-electric driving range, or the fantastically ludicrous official mpg figures, of a plug-in hybrid. That said, neither is it as expensive to buy, and if you drive it in the right way, it has the potential to be just as economical in the real world. It offers you many of the same tax advantages, too. Food for thought, that.
The hybrid system is by no means all that the RX has got going for it, though. It’s more interestingly styled than most of the competition, it’s certainly less ubiquitous, and has an interior that, while maybe not quite as lustrous as the best rivals from Germany, has them matched every step of the way for build quality. It’s also supremely well stocked with kit, in terms of both luxury and safety.
Granted, we won’t go pretending the RX is perfect. The infotainment system is fiddly to use, the boot is smaller than you get in most rivals, interior space is a fraction tighter and, while the ride is impressively cosseting, some rivals manage to combine even better comfort with considerably sharper handling, so it’s not as well rounded on the road.