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  • 3/4 Front Glamour 2017 Lexus RX 450h
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MPG

31 City / 28 Highway
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Lexus basically defined the luxury SUV hybrid category with its RX 450h, which debuted as a 2010 model. A variant of the gasoline-engine RX 350, the RX 450h is made for people who seek 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 few all-wheel drive hybrids on the market. Redesigning for 2016 gave the RX 450h and its RX 350 partner a dramatic new look, centering on a massive grille.

What's New for 2017

An F Sport front-drive model is available, but the regular RX 450h now comes only with all-wheel drive. The Lexus Safety System+ is now standard, including a pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure alert with steering assist. Lexus Display Audio has added a Scout GPS link. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel has become standard.

Lexus RX 450h

Choosing Your Lexus RX 450h

In the hybrid system, a 3.5-liter 259-horsepower V6 gasoline engine is mated to an electric motor and sends power to the front wheels. Another electric motor serves as a starter-generator. Each motor is coupled to a 37-kW nickel metal hydride battery pack. Combined system (gasoline/electric) output totals 308 horsepower.

Front-wheel drive is standard on the F Sport, but no longer available for the base model. All-wheel drive, offered with each version, uses an additional electric motor for the rear wheels. Each RX 450h uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which functions like an automatic but has no actual gears. Fuel economy with all-wheel drive is estimated at 31 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway (30 mpg combined). For urban driving, at least, that’s quite a boost from the 19/26 mpg (city/highway) for the gas-engine RX 350.

As before, the RX 450h comes in a well-equipped base trim level, but also in F Sport form.

Base

Now offered only with all-wheel drive at $53,035 (destination included), the base RX 450h features leather-trimmed seats, a navigation system, moonroof, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Every RX 450h has standard 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, SmartAccess key, wood interior trim, a power tailgate, heated/ventilated 10-way power front seats, LED foglamps, backup camera, and a 12-speaker audio system with 8-inch infotainment screen and Bluetooth connectivity. Heated 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

Available with front- or 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. Pricing with all-wheel drive starts at $56,495 (destination included).

CarsDirect Tip

There’s no escaping the fact that the price gap between a conventional-engine RX 350 and the hybrid-powertrain RX 450h is substantial. With the latter, 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 savoring all the other Lexus RX merits.

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Lexus RX 450h

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