NEWS: 2011 Lexus RX 450h

December 22, 2010
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I'm amused that a cargo net is a $59 extra. Really, Lexus, you can't throw in a $59 cargo net as part of the $45,700 base price?
2011 Lexus RX 450h Front Three Quarters Static Driver
The Lexus RX crossover has always been the ideal suburban runabout for affluent middle-aged folks who want to sit a bit higher than traffic, have the ability to carry some cargo or maybe a dog, and be able to count on all-weather traction if you choose the optional all-wheel drive-all in a silky-smooth, ultra-refined luxury package and with Lexus reliability to boot. This isn't a recipe for excitement, but it has been a recipe for huge profits at Lexus for many years, as the RX is far and away the brand's top seller. As for the hybrid version, you take all the aforementioned attributes and add to them a veneer of environmental responsibility, and you get the RX450h. At 30 city/28 freeway mpg, it beats the all-wheel-drive RX350 model's 18 city/24 highway EPA rating handily, but then again, its base price is some $5000 higher. The hybrid RX also weighs some 300 pounds more than the RX350 (4652 vs 4343 pounds), and this extra weight is noticeable from behind the wheel.
Driving the RX450h is easy and pleasant enough, though, just like the regular RX350. The powertrain is very smooth and refined, but pedal feedback both from accelerator and brake is nonlinear and feels artificial. I do hope that Lexus fixes that for the next generation.
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
My commute is about 45 miles, but I wasn't very impressed with the Lexus RX450h's indicated fuel economy of only 24 mpg, considering the EPA rating of 30/28 mpg. I wasn't being especially easy on the gas pedal, but I wasn't being that unkind, either. When I did apply full throttle, there were very noticeable levels of torque steer, at least in the rainy conditions in which I drove, which I find unacceptable for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
2011 Lexus RX 450h Rear Three Quarters Static Driver
The RX's interior materials are excellent and the fits very good, but the swoopy, asymmetrical design isn't my thing. Ergonomics are hit and miss: the mouse-like infotainment controller is quite well done, but the seat heaters and dash-lights controls are tricky to reach. Overall, the RX hybrid is comfortable, fancy, spacious, versatile, inoffensive, yet wholly uninspiring transportation. It's also probably just what Lexus buyers want.
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I drove the RX450h over the weekend and put a fair amount of miles on it. Like Rusty, I was disappointed in the fuel economy. I averaged a hair under 24 mpg for the first tank, and a little over 24 mpg after filling up. This after I made an effort to improve fuel economy while monitoring the power/eco/charge gauge closely. Perhaps the cold weather affected the mpg?
The interior of the RX450h is nice but rather bland. The nav screen is recessed into the dashboard, which means that reflections are minimized but that it's placed a little far away from the driver. Also, the graphics are in desperate need of an update; they look as if they're from ten years ago. Also, I don't care that much for the joystick controller. I feel like I have to take my eyes off the road far more with the joystick than with a round dial controller.
- Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2011 Lexus RX450h
2011 Lexus RX 450h Rear Three Quarters Static Passenger
Base price (with destination): $45,700
Price as tested: $54,414
Standard Equipment:
3.5-liter V-6 engine with electric drive motor assist
CVT transmission
On-demand all-wheel drive system
4-wheel regenerative-disc brakes with ABS
Vehicle stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Lexus 9-speaker premium audio system
In-dash 6-disc CD changer
Bluetooth connectivity
XM satellite radio
Automatic dual-zone climate control
Power tilt/telescoping steering column
Power windows/locks/mirrors
40/20/40 split rear seat
3-spoke steering wheel with audio controls
Tonneau cover
Carpeted floor mats
Options on this vehicle:
Dual-screen rear entertainment package -- $5005
DVD rear-seat entertainment system
Wireless headphones
Audio/video inputs
120V AC power outlet
Navigation system with voice command
XM NavTraffic/Weather
Backup camera
Premium package -- $2400
Touch open/close moonroof
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Power heated outside mirrors
MP3/USB port
Heated and ventilated front seats -- $640
12-speaker premium audio system -- $610

In-dash 6-DVD changer
Cargo net -- $59
Key options not on vehicle:
Luxury package -- $3703
Mark Levinson premium surround sound system
Remote start
Headlamp washers
Fuel economy: 30/28/29 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Engine:
Size: 3.5L DOHC V-6
Horsepower: 245 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 234 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Electric motor: 50 hp
Total system power: 295 hp
Drive: Four-wheel
Transmission: CVT
Curb weight: 4652 lb
Wheels/tires: 18 x 7.5 inch aluminum wheels, 235/60VR18 Bridgestone Dueller H/L 400 all-season tires
Competitors: Audi Q5 2.0T, BMW X5 xDrive 35d

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2011 Lexus RX450h

Base FWD 4-Dr Sport Utility V6
starting at (MSRP)
$44,735
Engine
3.5L V6
Fuel Economy
32 City 28 Hwy
2011 Lexus RX450h