Lexus RX 450h F-Sport: Hybrid Luxury
March 1, 2013
Luxurious, ultra-modern and ecological. That sums up the Lexus RX 450h, the top-selling hybrid on the market.
Toyota is a trailblazer when it comes to using alternative fuel sources. The world’s first hybrid car, the Prius, went into mass production in 1997. “Hybrid” means a gasoline engine and an electric motor working in tandem.
Toyota’s technological experience in building hybrid engines has contributed to the success of the Lexus. The Lexus has become synonymous with hybrid vehicle – and not just here in Poland. Not only that but Toyota offers hybrids in practically all vehicle segments. Since 1995, the suffix RX on the company’s SUV models has denoted “hybrid.”
The first-generation Lexus RX came out in 1998. Despite its rather compact size (the body was 4.57 m long) the car was excellently equipped and had a strong motor and a V6 engine. The second generation, which was produced from 2003 to 2009, was significantly bigger (4.73 m) and even more luxurious. The car came with a V6 engine and the RX400h was a hybrid.
The current offering is the third generation and has been available since 2009, although it was given something of a makeover in spring last year.
The body is 4.77 m long, 1.88 m wide and 1.68 m high. This places the car in the middle of the SUV range. The front of the F sport version has a mean and hungry look. The most striking features are the LED headlights and the large honeycomb grille set back from the bumper. The sideline with the distinctive sloping roof and the slight upsweep of the rear pillar profile give this colossus a rear sporty look.
The interior is spacious and can comfortably seat five adults. Nothing is lacking in terms of safety and comfort. The car comes with automatic air conditioning, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable heating and ventilation of the seats, ABS/ESP, cruise control, automatic CVT, side and rear-view cameras, and a complete set of front, side and curtain airbags, as well as a knee airbag for the driver. The multi-function remote-touch interface rates a special mention. This is located in front of the armrest on the central tunnel. The interface works just like a computer touchscreen. The cursor can be moved around an 8” color LCD screen to control all the audio, navigation, air-conditioning and telephone systems and to regulate various settings. This is where down-to-earth practicality meets hi-tech.
The most important features are tucked away under the hood and the trunk. The car is powered by a Toyota proprietary HSD known as “Lexus Hybrid Drive.” In addition to having the standard hybrid gasoline engine and electric motor in the front, there is another electric motor in the rear. The whole thing works seamlessly and automatically. Simply put, the three power sources adjust themselves to the driver and the driving conditions. The front electric motor starts up to put the car in motion. The 249 hp V6 gasoline engine then comes online. Work is allocated between the electric motor and gasoline engine in real time so as to maximize performance while minimizing fuel consumption. The gasoline engine cuts out while decelerating and the electric motors work like alternators. They are driven by the rotation of the wheels and recharge the batteries under the trunk. The rear electric motor improves traction by adding extra torque. As a result, the parameters of the vehicle are better adjusted and the vehicle itself handles rapid acceleration, slippery surfaces etc. much better. Three power sources working together make it possible for the vehicle, which weighs in at over 2 metric tons, to accelerate from standstill to 100 kph in just under 7.8 s and to reach a top speed of 200 kph. Average fuel consumption is 6.3l/100 km according to the manufacturer. It was over 3 liters more during our test drive, which was still quite impressive given the size and weight of the vehicle. Much the same can be said of its CO2 emissions, which were only 145 g/km, and the relative lack of engine noise.
The Lexus RX suffixed with an “h” is one of the top-selling hybrids around and accounts for more than half the 500,000 Lexus hybrids sold so far. So what makes the range so popular? It guarantees comfort and good driving. And it’s eco-friendly to boot. There is a downside though. The Lexus RX450h costs zl.363,000 in Poland. Our ecological warriors are really going to have to put their money where their mouths are with this one.