The Lexus RX, as much as any other vehicle, is the crossover that KO'd the luxury family sedan.
For suburban Chattanooga moms of a certain income level, the RX mid-size crossover is the default luxury vehicle. Its legendary comfort and durability are a potent one-two combination for upper-middle class buyers who treasure these two virtues.
If you add great fuel economy and sporty styling to your must-have list, you land on this week's tester, the 2019 Lexus RX450h F Sport, the hybrid version of the RX overlaid with a list of visual and technical upgrades included in the F Sport trim package. As a bonus, the RX450h adds 31 mpg highway, 28 mpg city fuel economy numbers.
During a one-week trial in our Matador Red Mica Lexus tester, we sampled the RX450h while doing mostly highway driving, where this top-selling Lexus really shines. On Interstate highways, with its radar-powered cruise control engaged, the RX450h turns what could be an exhausting drive into a relaxing trip.
* Model: 2019 Lexus RX450h F Sport
* Exterior color: Matador Red Mica
* Interior color: Stratus Gray
* Engine: 3.5-liter six-cylinder gas engine, plus two electric motors
* Horsepower: 308 hp
* Transmission: Continuously Variable
* Fuel economy: 31 mpg highway, 28 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Lexus of Chattanooga
* Price (as tested): $61,854
Locally, Lexus vehicles, such as our RX450h tester, are available at Lexus of Chattanooga at 5800 Lee Highway. Late last week the dealership had four RX450h crossovers in digital inventory ranging in advertised price from $54,464 to $61,113. The new, three-row RX450hl, with room for seven passengers, is listed for $65,251.
WHAT IS IT?
The Lexus RX450h is the hybrid version of the auto company's best-selling mid-size crossover. In two-row configuration it seats five, although an optional three-row version seats seven.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Our lavishly-equipped RX450h F Sport tester rings up at $61,854, but that includes more than $9,000 in options such as a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a panoramic view monitor for easy parking, a color heads-up display, LED headlights, a 12.3-inch navigation screen and a power moon roof.
WHAT WE LIKED
Our logbook contained plaudits for the RX450h's quiet cabin, potent hybrid power-train, excellent fuel economy, dynamite sound system, 12.3-inch infotainment screen and soft-leather covered seats.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Cargo capacity with the second row of seats upright might cause some families to invest in a roof-mounted cargo box. The lane-departure alert is a vibration combined with a muffled oink. Unless you are about to nod off (in which case you should immediately pull over), these lane-departure features are more of an annoyance than a safety feature, in our view. Also, price creep has begun to effect the RX-line's affordability.
While the RX450h won't win any awards for handling, it's in most other respects a pleasant vehicle to drive with plenty of acceleration and confidant, if not razor sharp, steering. Quiet launches, while the power-train is under mostly under the influence of two electric motors, are especially pleasant.
The RX450h is a luxurious and practical mid-size crossover that will give you years of trouble-free driving.
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