I recently test drove a Lexus RX 450h, a five-passenger luxury hybrid mid-sized crossover for a week and neither my kids or I wanted to part with it. Experiencing the luxury hybrid SUV for a week gave me some insight that parents who are looking for a safe, luxury suv will appreciate having. The RX is available in three styles; the RX 450h that I drove for a week is the hybrid version of the RX. The RX 350 is a regular gas model and the RX 350 F is the sport style.
Being short (about 5’3″) can pose a challenge when adjusting a driver’s seat and steering wheel in many vehicles. Because of my height, or lack of, I sometimes find it difficult to see the top of the speedometer and gauges because of the position of the steering wheel in relation to my height but between the seat and steering wheel adjustment options (tilt/telescopic) that the RX 450h offers, I was able to see all of the gauges and sit at a comfortably height. The fact that the steering wheel is leather wrapped providing a comfortable and smooth grip, doesn’t hurt!
A full hybrid, the RX 450h can operate in electric only, gas-engine only or combined gas and electric modes. The engine has multiple driving modes: Normal, Sport, ECO and EV, with a net 295-hp. I accelerated from 0-60 in 7.9 seconds, pretty fast for a mid-sized SUV. The RX 450h doesn’t make a big production out of being a hybrid. There were no noticeable sputters, sometimes experienced with a hybrid vehicle, when the RX 450h switched from hybrid to gas or from an engine-off stop to a start which made the ride smooth and quiet.
Parents will appreciate the 1-year subscription trial to SafetyConnect, a package that includes Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance Button (SOS), Automatic Collision Notification and Enhanced Roadside Assistance. SafetyConnect is linked to the 24-hour Safety Connect Response Center. The Heads Up Display in the dash keeps information clearly visible while driving. This feature projects information on the windshield, such as speed, audio, RPM and current gear. To avoid a collision, the Pre-Collison System (PCS) will prepare Brake Assist (increasing the braking pressure) as well as retract the front seat belts and reduce the throttle.
The RX has a voice activated navigation system and a hard drive that stores needed maps. The optional voice activated navigation system offers real-time traffic and weather alerts. I really like having real-time alerts when on road trips with my kids. It’s nice to know when we might run into significant traffic and be given an alternate route.
I all but refuse to drive a vehicle that doesn’t have a backup camera. I’ve heard one too many stories about a child being injured or worse, because a driver didn’t see the child behind the car. While our kids have been taught to never go off the sidewalk to our driveway when someone is in the driver seat, kids are impulsive and don’t always remember the rules. The RX’s backup camera allowed me to see if kids were behind the vehicle before backing up. The outside mirrors are heated to ensure constant visibility even in a snowstorm, something we don’t experience a lot of in Georgia but I’m sure those of you in the Northern states are all too aware of. To also help with visibility, the front-door glass is water-repellent, and the rain-sensing intermittent windshield wipers keep water away.
The Blind Spot Monitor alerted me when a vehicle entered my blind spot. To help with parking, the Intuitive Parking Assist let me know where an object is, which is especially helpful during the parallel parking process, something I luckily don’t have to do often but wouldn’t be such a burden to do in a Lexus RX.
Other safety features include a four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Traction Control (TRAC), Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) which help prevent a skid and the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) which keeps the wheels from slipping.
The Lexus RX has airbags galore. It has 10 standard airbags. The front-passenger seat is designed to detect whether the seat is occupied by an adult, a child or is vacant. In case the system detects a child or empty passenger seat, the system prevents the passenger’s front, side and knee airbags from being deployed.
Once we got home from a long day at the lacrosse field, I was able to use HomeLink, a transceiver that enables the garage, home lighting, gate and home security systems, making for an easy transitioning after a long day.
How Comfortable is the 2014 Lexus RX?
The interior cabin is stealthily quiet. Like I mentioned earlier, the driver’s seat is highly adjustable but the front passenger seat is as well. In addition to being adjustable, the 10-way power-adjustable front seats that are both heated and ventilated for either cold mornings or hot afternoons. The Lexus Memory System will remember the driver’s seat settings, outside mirrors and steering wheel and adjust accordingly. My husband is almost a full foot taller than me so a driver’s seat memory system is something we look for in a vehicle so we don’t have to go through the cumbersome task of adjusting the seat, mirrors, and steering wheel when we switch who’s driving.
My daughter loved that the RX’s rear seats recline; a feature not found in many mid-sized SUV’s. The rear seats also slide forward to make room for the cargo area. The back seat armrest provides a great little storage area for a book or dvd along with two cup holders. Ensuring the kids devices are always fully charged was a breeze with the 120-volt outlet easily accessible to the kids.
The RX 450h cargo area holds an impressive 80.3 cu ft, the same as the non-hybrid RX 350 models.
What About Entertainment?
The 2014 Lexus RX 450 comes with a Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System, complete with a DVD/CD player and 15 speakers. There is also a USB for an iPOD as well as HD Radio with iTunes. My daughter and her friend didn’t hesitate to jump in the backseat for a short road trip because of the dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system with 7-inch LCD screens behind the front headrests, along with wireless headsets and a wireless remote. They enjoyed a movie while I enjoyed peace and quiet in the front cabin. 🙂
MPG is a big deal for the 2015 Lexus RX 450h. It gets 18 city, 25 highway and 21 combined. The RX 450h accelerates from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds, should the need ever arise.
Lexus RX Models
- RX350 starts at $40,795
- RX350F Sport starts at $48,535
- RX 450h starts at $47,445
If you’re budget is in the $40k-$50k range, you can feel confident that you won’t have to sacrifice comfort and style for reliability if your family chooses the Lexus RX 350 or 450h.
Go to Lexus.com to learn more about the Lexus RX and test drive a RX 450h at your local Lexus dealership!