Luxury car buyers who are conscientious about a clean environment and fuel economy are likely to look to Lexus. This is where they’ll go for a Luxury Hybrid.
Lexus easily comes to mind — they’ve been at the hybrid category for a long time, thanks to its parent company Toyota. Among the growing stable of hybrid vehicles in its lineup is a Crossover Utility Vehicle called the RX 450h. This model is Lexus’ best-selling hybrid vehicle — and it’s a no-brainer why. The RX 450h has beauty, luxury, performance, and efficiency with an environmental conscience.
With a hybrid/gasoline motor combination that can produce the horsepower of a V-8, the RX 450h boastfully delivers the fuel mileage of a midsize four-cylinder sedan. It is a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. Available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive, this 4,000-plus pound crossover is EPA-rated to return 32 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg highway in the FWD version while the AWD RX 450h is rated at 30/28 mpg.
The “full-hybrid” system allows drivers to experience fine gas-engine performance on the highway and clean electric motoring in the city. As a full-hybrid vehicle, the RX 450h can run on gas engine only, electric motor only or a mode that combines both motors.
The V-6 gas engine produces 245 horsepower alone and has a total output of 295 horsepower with the hybrid system. The engine is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission.
Pricing for the 2011 RX 450h starts at $43,235 for the FWD model. My tester was the AWD version with a starting price of $44,825. One of the better selling points on the RX hybrid is that is doesn’t look like a hybrid. This crossover is very contemporary looking among the CUV genre.
An athletic presence accentuated by pronounced front fenders, distinctive grille, broad shoulders, sleek profile, aerodynamic rear-end section with spoiler are all the key attributes of vehicles in the crossover class. And the 2011 RX 450h doesn’t miss the mark, particularly with its attractive 18-inch alloy wheels. The only outward sign that this is a high-energy efficient hybrid are the Lexus hybrid blue emblems in the front and rear. Class-leading Lexus luxury doesn’t miss on the interior of this hybrid either.
A well-executed design layout of the dashboard is not only dramatic in elegance; it’s also highly functional for the intuitive, easy-to-use controls. The front dash layout features an asymmetrical centerline that is a bold contrast of form and function. I like that Lexus interior designers took this path, which seems to strengthen the hybrid image of forward-thinking technology.
The RX 450h has a high contrast white Organic Light Emitting Diode instrumentation panel display. High vibrant white characters and blue meters are a sharp contrast against the black IP background. A bar graph informs the driver of fuel-economy driving in the Eco Driving indicator. Bar graphs quickly inform the driver, but I’d like to see Lexus be more imaginative, as so many other hybrid car manufacturers have with hybrid efficiency icons such as leaves and trees.
The 2011 RX 450h comes with a long list of luxury options that give buyers a great opportunity of how opulent they want to make their hybrid ride. For example, the tester had $5,000 Navigation and Entertainment package that was absolutely cutting edge. Lexus backs up its RX 450h with a powertrain warranty of 72 months/70,000 miles and 8 years/100,000 miles on the hybrid components. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

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