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2016 Lexus RX 450h AWD F-Sport Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2016 Lexus RX 450h AWD F-Sport
ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 259 hp @ 6,000 rpm/247 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
WHEELBASE: 109.8 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 192.5 x 74.6 x 67.7 in.
TIRES: P235/55R20
CARGO: 18.8/55.9 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
ECONOMY: 30 mpg city/28 mpg highway/25.5 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 17.2 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 4,740 lbs.
STICKER:$60,995 (includes $940 delivery, $5,610 options) 
BOTTOM LINE: Combine luxury, hybrid economy, SUV practicality and Lexus F-Sport performance and you have the Lexus RX450h, a solid performer on all fronts.

Driving the Lexus RX 450h presents a few problems. They’re nice problems, but they’re problems nonetheless. First, it’s a Lexus, so you expect some degree of luxury, and you get it. The seats are leather-surfaced and offer very good support all over. In our tester they were red, but that didn’t detract from their comfort. 

In addition, you’d expect some interesting features, and to my mind the most interesting is the multi-functional controller located on the center console. This joystick/mouse-like controller helps you to navigate through the infotainment screen. As you move through the screen you feel detents on the controller that help you “stop” where you want. Then you press the controller to select. There’s also an “enter” button on both sides of the controller that is accessible for both the driver and front passenger. 

Since it’s also a hybrid, you keep an eye on the fuel economy gauge. We worked it up to around 26.2 mpg during our run, but finished with a test mpg of 25.5. As usual,it was lower than EPA estimates, but it’s still pretty impressive for the vehicle.

Another expectation is decent power, and the RX 450h delivers. The 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 259 horsepower, which is more than enough to get you from here to there quickly. Of course, the electric motor helps in initial acceleration, and Lexus quotes a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds. 

Our tester was also part of Lexus’s F-Sport collection. In the RX 450h this includes the addition of 20-inch F-Sport wheels, an adaptive variable suspension, badging, heated leather wheel (with 17 buttons for audio, phone and the information screen), meters, the heated and ventilated front seats, aluminum trim pedals and foot rest, and paddle shifters. With the F-Sport tuned front and rear suspensions you might expect a stiffer ride, but it wasn’t there. 

There’s a Drive Mode Select system that allows the driver to choose among distinct drive settings to match road conditions. ECO moderated engine power output, throttle response and climate control for maximum fuel efficiency. NORMAL provides an even balance between engine performance and fuel economy, while in SPORT the driver gets enhanced throttle response and acceleration.

Instrumentation is relatively simple. In front of the driver is a large digital speedometer. There is no tach. Ringing the speedometer is an indicator that shows charge or eco or power. To the left of the speedo is a mpg gauge, with fuel and water gauges to the right. 

Rear legroom is very good. With optimized seating for five, the lowered floor section provides comfort for all three rear passengers. There’s a pull-down armrest with a console and a pair of cupholders. There is excellent rear headroom despite the rather severe slope of the roof. 

Cargo capacity is excellent at 18.8 cubic feet. Fold the rear seat backs using the lever at the base of the seat and cargo capacity expends to nearly 56 cubic feet. You can fit at least one large golf bag in the back with the rear seats up. In addition, access to the cargo area is excellent. I would have e thought that with the shape of the roof it might be restricted, but a hatchback-style lift back solves the problem. It would be easy to fit a large dog crate in the back as well.

You can tow with the RX 450h, but only in AWD and to 3,500 pounds. In FWD, towing isn’t recommended. 

While you might expect the Lexus RX 450h to be focused on luxury, or economy, or performance, it’s really a very good combination of all three. You can adapt this SUV to be whatever you want.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

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