It is fitting that Lexus celebrates its 30th birthday with an updated version of the RX 450h, a core model for the Japanese luxury brand.
The brand landed on the automotive stage in 1989, first in the USA with two models and one year later the LS400 arrived in Ireland and the UK. On the European launch of the new RX, I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of an LS400 and the memories came flooding back.
The brief was to create a car to challenge the might of the Germans in the luxury sector and achieve the designers and engineers did, the LS400 immediately set new standards for comfort and sheer luxury. Twenty nine years on and the LS400 I drove still shone through with its comfort and quality of drive, of course not the technology that we have come to expect today.
The RX is key model for Lexus, it is the world’ s best selling luxury hybrid SUV and is the best selling model to date and is currently on sale in 90 countries. Right at the heart of the matter is Lexus Hybrid Drive, a full hybrid system which incorporates a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine mated to one of the best CVT automatic transmissions on the market today. This system is also found in the ES Saloon and the recently introduced UX, which is described as an urban crossover.
A feature of the latest model is the Multi Stage Hybrid System; this was featured first in the LC Coupe, the flagship model of the Lexus family. The end result is performance which is delivered in a silky manner which after all you would expect nothing less for a car in this class and worth noting self charging hybrid electric power made its debut back in 2004 in the RX 400h and in my opinion hybrid is the best option for now. The two power sources work in harmony to drive the RX to deliver the best possible economy. No need to be concerned where the next charging point is or range anxiety.
The fourth generation RX came on stream in 2015, the earlier second generation model in 2005, the third followed in 2009 and on every occasion this SUV improved in every respect.
With Lexus there is a seemingly never ending search for perfection so it follows that the updated RX for 2020 is the best to date.
The exterior continues with sharp sporty lines which delivers a strong on road presence highlighted by a bold grille, this SUV really does stand apart from it s competitors. The interior is sheer Lexus, quality that we now have come to take for granted. Not only do you travel in comfort with this SUV but it’s highly functional and with the L version, the third row of seats feature two different seating positions with an extra 95mm of legroom.
We now expect connectivity with the modern motor vehicle and with this Lexus you certainly will not be disappointed as we strive to keep in touch with friends, colleagues and the outside world. This onboard technology features Apple Car Play and Android Auto and there are touch pad and touch screen control options. Voice control can be enabled via your mobile phone to Apple Siri or Google Assistant. Likewise you can select either Lexus navigation or smartphone versions.
Safety is a strong point with Lexus and the RX comes with a suite of items to keep driver and passengers safe. There is the world’s first BladeScan Type AHS and the very latest Lexus Safety System+. The former features LED sourced light which shines onto two blade shaped mirrors which rotate at high speed. The light is directed to a lens to illuminate the road ahead, night time visibility has gone from 32 to 56 metres. Some of the other safety features include an improved Pre-Collision System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Road Sign Assist etc.
Behind the wheel of the 2020 RX, immediately I sensed the improved steering system, the improved suspension set up which is even more noticeable with the Sport version. The Sport is just that little bit sharper in the handling department with no loss of ride and comfort. However, all versions do reward with those legendary Lexus levels of comfort and low noise levels, this is one vehicle where you can hear every sound when you have music on the move.
For me, the new 2020 RX450h is right up there with the best in the seemingly ever expanding variety of SUVs that are now appearing on our roads.