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2016 Lexus RX 450h Overview

James Flammang
Contributing Editor - December 11, 2015

Lexus basically defined the luxury SUV hybrid with its RX 450h. A variant of the gasoline-engine RX 350, the RX 450h is made for people who want comfort and power, as well as fuel economy closer to that of a midsize sedan than an SUV.

Carrying on the Lexus tradition of refined transportation, it's a nearly-silent, well-appointed midsize crossover vehicle for five passengers. In addition, the RX 450h is one of the few all-wheel drive hybrids on the market.

What's New for 2016

Like its RX 350 partner, the RX 450h has been fully redesigned for 2016, taking on a dramatic new look that’s adapted from the smaller NX series. Up front, in particular, each RX comes across as dramatically different, if not outright radical, with sharp angles framing an unusually large grille. Blacked-out C-pillars give the illusion of a “floating” roofline. A newly available adaptive suspension is a “first” for the RX. Also available is a retractable panoramic moonroof.

Lexus RX 450h

Choosing Your Lexus RX 450h

In the hybrid system, a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine is mated to a hybrid drive system, which yields a combined output of 308 horsepower. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive, with an additional electric motor at the rear, is optional. Each RX 450h uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic but has no actual gears.

As before, the RX450h comes in a well-equipped base trim level, but also in F Sport form.

Base

Several features that formerly were offered in option groups are now standard on the RX 450h, including leather-trimmed seats, a navigation system, moonroof, and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. Every RX 450h has 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, Smart Access key, wood interior trim, a power tailgate, 10-way power front seats, LED foglamps, backup camera, and a 12-speaker audio system with 8-inch infotainment screen and Bluetooth connectivity. Power mirrors contain integrated turn-signal indicators.

Options include 20-inch wheels, a 12:3-inch screen, head-up display, Intuitive Park Assist, Mark Levinson 15-speaker audio, panoramic moonroof, and panoramic-view monitor.

An optional Luxury Package includes semi-aniline trimmed seats, 20-inch chromed wheels, heated steering wheel, rear-door sunshades, LED ambient lighting, and wood/aluminum interior trim.

Front-wheel-drive models aren't rated to tow, but a properly-equipped all-wheel drive RX 450h can haul up to 3,500 pounds.

F Sport

Offered only with all-wheel drive, the F Sport gets a sportier look than the base RX 450h, along with revised suspension tuning that includes performance dampers. F Sport standard equipment includes paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, F Sport instruments, heated/ventilated leather-trimmed front seats with unique stitching, and a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel. The adaptive variable suspension includes Sport+ drive mode. Metallic chrome-finish F Sport wheels hold 20-inch tires.

CarsDirect Tip

Even more than before, the price gap between a conventional-engine RX 350 and the hybrid-powertrain RX 450h is substantial. You get quite an improvement in fuel economy for city driving, but not so much for highway use. An all-wheel-drive RX 450h compares most favorably to other luxury SUVs, for buyers who wish to take advantage of a hybrid system's benefits while enjoying all the other RX virtues.

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