Driving Report: The new Lexus RX [2016]

Lexus drivers are different. And that is not meant badly. But it's a fact. And that's probably also because a Lexus is always a little different from the rest of the competition in the segment. Another fact: no other manufacturer implements more hybrid models in the premium segment than Lexus! And no other manufacturer currently relies on such an extroverted design as Lexus. The new Lexus RX is no exception, it demonstrates independence, “being different” - but in a pleasant way!

mein-auto-blog Test: First ride in the new Lexus RX

Turbo or hybrid? The main thing is different!

With the new RX, Lexus is already introducing the fourth generation of its own premium SUV. With more than 2.2 million RX so far and worldwide, the “concept” of the “other premium” seems to be working. Although the RX takes on an extra role in Germany. And that despite the extremely good price. A Lexus RX 400h costs € 58.900 less than € 10.000 less than a comparable BMW X5. The Munich is offered as a diesel darling and the RX as a hybrid. With the system output of 313 hp, however, the RX driver does not have to feel like a loser at the regulars' table. Yet. The Lexus RX is the extra.

Lexus RX 450h and 200t 005 driving event test

Proud Japanese

Hatta-San is the chief engineer at Lexus in Japan and is responsible for the development of the drive. If you ask him what he is particularly proud of, the deep love and impressive expertise of Japanese auto engineers comes to light. It is not about the + 14 PS of the RH 400h compared to its predecessor. It is also not about the diabolo grill, the striking face or the full-LED headlights. The new 12.3 inch display does not matter either. Technicians remain technicians, regardless of the hierarchy level they have arrived at. Hatta-San speaks euphorically about the redesign of the engine mount. A direct connection between engine and body, a lower placement of the center of gravity, through the agility of the RX. About the problems that had to be solved for this. Which modules had to be developed from scratch. The aim of the agreement of comfort and dynamism, according to the Lexus idea.

Lexus RX 450h and 200t 003 driving event test

This is how the Lexus RX 450h drives

In the new RX-Hybrid, too, Lexus remains true to itself and combines a naturally aspirated engine via a planetary gear with an electric motor. The 3.5 liter petrol engine also has a 123 kW electric motor under the front hood. An electric motor with 68 hp works on the rear axle. The petrol engine has an output of 262 hp - but due to the hybrid layout, the engine outputs cannot simply be added up. 313 HP is the “system performance” of the entire drivetrain as stated by Lexus.

"Get lost!"

Probably the greatest achievement in the development of the RX 450h is again not noticed by anyone. I bet you will. It's the ability not to be annoying. Electric starting, switching on the gasoline engine, dynamic acceleration, silent gliding, recuperating electrical power - all of this goes hand in hand and the driver does not notice it. That the drive train doesn't jerk. That it remains wonderfully quiet. The fact that one does not notice anything of the complex control in the drive train is likely to be drowned out in the general expectation of “luxury and comfort”.

It is exactly this discipline that has been perfected at Lexus and the RX450h should be the "annoying-not-head". The revision of the suspension setup fits in very well with this. As an F-Sport, the Lexus RX optically marks the “bully in a jogging dress”, but under the sheet metal it combines dynamically variable dampers with active stabilizers. Together with a choice of tires that deliberately avoids low-profile tires, the RX450h offers the driving comfort that one expects from a premium SUV. It remains handy and can be actively wagged along winding country roads.

What then accelerates the pulse, however, is not the dynamics of the RX. It's the hybrid shortcoming. From the perfect “he doesn't bother me drive” to the callous drive train in just one thought. The boost effect of the electric motors is noticeable, yes - but it is also noticeable that you just don't feel anything from the “drive”. The e-CVT (planetary gear transmission for hybrid drive) does not allow a moment of the direct “thrust feeling”. There is no connection between the accelerator and the road, between torque and the promise of performance.

Back to sliding. Back to the "don't annoy me". Then you will not achieve the standard consumption of 5.2 liters either - but you should be able to get by with less than 8 liters. However, if you ask more of the RX 450h, you pay the surcharge directly at the gas station.

Big car, small turbo: the RX 200t

The alternative to the ingenious hybrid is not a diesel engine. In addition, too few RX are sold where the diesel dominates. With us. Diesel does not play a role in the main US market - not just since Dieselgate - and so we sorely lack the diesel alternative for Germany. Nobody at Mercedes, VW, Audi and BMW would come up with the idea of ​​offering large SUVs without diesel. Not yet.

The alternative is the “small” 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbo with 238 hp and - much more important - 350 Nm torque. The small turbo offers more power than the 3.5 liter suction cup in the hybrid - but it also has to do without the torques of the electric motors. Either hybrid or turbo. And the turbo can be ordered as an all-wheel drive version or with front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is sufficient for 99% of all cases. But just the thought of only having to master this 1% situation once, only once, of needing all-wheel drive and then in an SUV without driving, no, this thought should always lead to all-wheel drive.

The four-cylinder also drives so confidently in the vicinity of the large SUV that one could only be disturbed by the “nagging” sound of the two-liter. Lexus does not even offer a manual transmission, the 6-speed automatic transmission used could now be criticized for its “only” 6-speed. But that would be wrong.

Because the automatic does everything right. It doesn't switch annoyingly back and forth, it cleverly uses the 1.600 Nm available from 350 revolutions and likes to pull forward in high gear. Here too: “He's not annoying”! The Lexus convinces even with the apparently too small dimensioned drive with its comfort design. In a third mix, 7.9 liters of 95 octane soup should be sufficient for 100 kilometers. We'll put a big question mark behind it.

And why not a plug-in hybrid?

Lexus and much more the parent company Toyota is the hybrid pioneer in the automotive market. Large SUVs in particular seem predestined for the plug-in hybrid drive. However, Lexus does not currently offer the RX as a PHEV. Why?

To do this, you have to think again about which sales markets the RX really plays a role in. Among others in the USA. And in turn, PHEV do not yet play a major role there.

And for the German market? The diesel drive would be more important. However, the Toyota Group only has it for the rustic off-roaders in its own program. And so the RX will remain what it is on the German market: an exception.

Lexus RX 450h and 200t 038 driving event test

Facts and basic knowledge

The entry-level price of the Lexus RX as 200t with front-wheel drive is 49.900 €. The hybrid 450h starts at 58.900 € and ends as an F-Sport with 76.350 €. Then, however, the list of surcharges is not much. However, the surcharge policy for the assistance systems is somewhat incomprehensible. Head-Up Display, Blind Spot Warner and 360 ° camera are not available in the basic versions and cost an additional 3.300 € even for the F-Sport and Luxury versions.

The new RX is from the 23. January available on the German market.



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