2011 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid SUV: Review Roundup

2011 Lexus RX 450h SUV review

photo courtesy of Lexus

The RX 450h is a luxury crossover hybrid SUV from Lexus. Other than the discontinuation of one of its options packages, it remains unchanged from 2010, so you’ll see reviews from both years. Let’s have a look at what people are saying.


Automobile Magazine – 2010 Lexus RX450h

Automobile says that the RX 450h “represents a careful evolution” of the hybrid crossover SUV, though they note that the trend for Lexus SUVs has been attention to performance over fuel efficiency. However, Automobile says that the newest 450h is making positive strides. It gets 28 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

The V-6 gas engine and electric motors combine for 295 hp, which Automobile says “makes the hybrid the most powerful RX and produces strong, seamless acceleration.”

Automobile is impressed with the bevy of gadgets that the RX 450h offers (rear- and front-mounted cameras to assist in parking, the center stack controls). They call the interior “plush and comfortable”.

With an estimated base price of $45,000, Automobile concludes: “even with the new car’s higher fuel economy, buying the hybrid is a decision made more for love (of efficiency and the environment) than money (saved at the gas pump).”


MotorTrend – First Test: 2010 Lexus RX 450h AWD

MotorTrend calls the RX 450h “surprisingly quick off the line.” They clocked it at 6.9 seconds, from 0 mph to 60 mph. Although this model is 600 lbs heavier than its predecessor, it stops from 60 mph in 137 ft, which MotorTrend praised.

The gas and electric motors “work together to provide an impressive amount of low-end torque,” MotorTrend says, “and the CVT (continuously variable transmission) does a fine job, but when it comes right down to it, this vehicle is more highway cruiser than engaging driver’s car.” They say that it feels “heavy” in turns and that there isn’t a sufficient feel of connection to the road.

The reviewer says that this SUV is stuffed with “gadgets and gizmos,” which lends to the “jaw-dropping” price tag of $59,800. Of particular note in the review is the Remote Touch controller. MotorTrend says “This is the logical next step in the world of iDrive, MMI, and the rest — and works better than any of those. It’s shaped like a computer mouse and works essentially the same way. It’s so easy to use that, unlike some of the other systems out there, we never found ourselves taking our eyes off the road to operate it.”

MotorTrend calls the RX 450h a “well-built, quiet, comfortable vehicle.” They go on to say “It’s the perfect SUV for those who like what the RX line has to offer and for people who want to be able to carry five people, tow 3500 pounds, and haul up to 80.3 cubic feet of stuff.”


Car and Driver – 2010 Lexus  RX450h All-Wheel Drive – Short Take Road Test

Car and Driver says “The RX does impress…. It was a struggle to find anything even resembling a deal-breaking fault in the serene RX450h. Operation is an exercise in being totally pampered. The electric steering is light but responsive. The ride is mesmerizing. The handling is not tuned for back-road strafing but for boulevard cruising. The interior sparkles with chrome and wood and the softest of leathers and textures.” However, they don’t like the CVT (transmission), saying “It won’t win anyone over.”

They have reservations about the Remote Touch controller, saying “A more serious complaint can be found with the infotainment control, or rather the learning curve associated with mastering it. As this is the newest RX, it uses a free-floating, mouse-type knob thing — think really big ‘eraser style’ control, like the ones found in old laptop keyboards — that directs a pointer on the navigation display… The control can be a bit wonky to get a handle on. But once you hit the plateau on the learning curve, the system works without flaw.”

C&D found that acceleration ajnd braking were good enough. They were a bit surprised by the good straight-line speed the RX 450h offers, as it’s not usually something that exists with hybrids.

Their conclusion: “In a world of ever-growing concerns for all things green, the RX might be one of the more attractive statements this side of the Fisker Karma.”


Edmunds – 2011 Lexus RX 450h SUV

For performance and fuel efficiency, Edmunds says “The 2011 Lexus RX 450h remains a top pick.” They balance their praise however, with this: “The increase in fuel efficiency is certainly an enticing proposition, but it’s worth noting that the RX 450h will set you back more than $5,000 over the RX 350, and that means it’s going to take a number of years to recoup that cost in fuel savings.”

They say that the RX 450h boasts “class-leading interior quality and an impressively smooth and quiet ride.” It also comes with what they describe as a “bevvy” of luxury features.

Edmunds clocked the RX 450h at 7.6 seconds, 0 mph to 60 mph. Their testing also produced 30 mpg, city and 28 mpg, highway. They also note that the RX 450h can tow up to 3,500 lbs.

Edmunds notes the safety features, which includes an Onstar-like system with “automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator and emergency assistance button.” Edmund’s says that the RX 450h they tested stopped from 60 mph at 127 ft. They report “In government crash testing, the RX 450h earned perfect five-star marks for front and rear passenger protection in frontal and side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the related RX 350 earned a perfect ‘Good’ rating for its performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.”

Edmunds says that the interior quality makes the RX 450h “feel much more expensive than its entry-level status would suggest. Authentic wood trim and high-quality leather lend an air of opulence.”

Edmund’s also says that the Remote Touch is “immediately intuitive and easier to use than other competing interfaces.”

They recommend it over the Porsche Cayenne hybrid and the Volkswagon Touareg hybrid.

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