The new Lexus RX is bigger, more powerful and more efficient than ever, and it looks the part too

The Lexus RX was the original hybrid SUV. Forgoing the accepted diesel powerplants means that the luxury arm of Japanese manufacturer Toyota can offer buyers something a little different, with a cleaner battery-boosted petrol engine under the hood.

Now in its fourth generation, the RX has forged a reputation amongst its fans for comfort, ease of ownership and unending reliability. Elsewhere in the world, Lexus sells larger GX and LX SUVs, but in the UK there's little demand, so the RX is as large as it gets.

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Radical styling helps the RX to stand out next to rivals like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7. The interior is excellent too, with high-quality materials and loads of equipment. The RX prioritises comfort over driving dynamics, though, so if you're looking for a large, refined, easy to drive SUV, you can't go far wrong with a Lexus.

The RX is also efficient on paper, with low CO2 ratings making it a stand-out company car choice. The electric motor in the RX 450h model means it's good in commuter traffic but it’s unlikely that real-world fuel economy will come close to the combined cycle figure.

Also on the downside, it won't beat sportier rivals when it comes to handling and the RX's lack of character on the road will put enthusiasts off.

Two versions are now available, and new for 2018 is a longer variant badged RX-L. This car boasts the same wheelbase as the regular RX, but the rear overhang is elongated and the rear window sits more upright to create room for a third row of seats, turning the RX into a seven-seater.

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Lexus RX 450h Luxury

The Lexus RX is a large SUV that rivals the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes GLE and Audi Q7. The RX has been a big seller for Lexus, and this new model (launched in 2015) means it's up to date with the rest of the Lexus range. The the most obvious visual changes are the huge new grille at the front and sharp 'origami' styling.

The new RX is 120mm longer, as well as 10mm wider and 5mm lower than the previous car, which increased legroom and means boot space is up slightly to 453 litres - though that's still 197 litres less than a BMW X5.

Now a little into its life the only engine available in the RX is a 3.5-litre V6 petrol, which is mated to an electric motor and badged RX 450h. The non-hybrid 2.0-litre 200t version has been dropped for now. Like the rest of the Lexus range, no diesels are available in the RX – with the brand focusing heavily on reducing emissions and increasing economy with battery-boosted hybrid technology.

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All versions are all-wheel-drive as standard and use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) gearbox. Five trim levels are offered, these being SE, Luxury, Sport, F Sport and Premier, while the RX-L is available in just three trims - SE, Luxury and Premier.

Performance is good, but the RX would rather you take it easy
A top company car tax choice thanks to low emissions but real-world mpg may not live up to official figures
Looks great inside and out, and has loads of equipment on board
Boot space isn't the best, but there's plenty of room in the cabin
Driver Power results suggest the RX will be very dependable

Standard equipment on all models includes climate control, heated front seats, an eight-inch display screen with navigation, DAB radio and a reversing camera. Standard driver aids and assistance features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic high beam, traffic sign recognition and automatic emergency braking, which were previously all part of an optional safety pack.

Extra equipment as you move up the range includes reclining and heated rear seats, a full-length panoramic sunroof, adaptive suspension, a power tailgate, a 360 degree top down camera system and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system.

Last updated: 
30 Jul, 2018