Did you know that the world’s very first hybrid luxury SUV was a Lexus? It was in April 2005 when the luxury carmaker launched the RX 400h that captured the attention and curiosity of drivers all over the the world. 16 years later, Lexus continues its leadership in such drivetrain technology that combine motive power from the gasoline engine and the electric motor.
The more than 2 million hybrid luxury vehicles it sold is a testament of Lexus’ success in crafting premium rides that balance excellent driving performance with environmental sensitivity.
The RX badge continues to lead the charge among hybrid SUVs, and the current RX 450h is the result of years of development and improvement, not just in the efficiency of its hybrid drivetrain, but also in the driving experience.
The current generation RX 450h’s self-charging full hybrid system features a 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 gasoline engine and front and rear motors that combine to generate a maximum 308hp.
The key components and control systems in the Lexus Hybrid Drive System were improved and re-engineered to deliver class-leading fuel economy, minimal emissions, and excellent on-road performance.
Other updates to the system included a design evolution of the Power Control Unit (PCU), and HV Engine Control Unit (ECU) that delivers better energy efficiency, more driver-friendly operation and more refined performance. A lighter, more efficient electric water pump was introduced and the hybrid battery was repackaged, making it more compact and improving space efficiency. The E-Four electric all-wheel-drive system’s control functions were improved to give a better response when accelerating through bends.
Being a Lexus, the RX 450h is expected to provide unmatched luxury and convenience. Every RX 450h was crafted by Takumi master builders, and it shows in the stunning exterior and luxurious interior. The cabin design strikes a balance between functionality and luxury, finished with refined materials that exude quality construction and craftsmanship.
The ambiance is spacious yet intimate, with high levels of comfort for driver and passengers.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, which allow occupants to use smartphone via a 12.3-inch touchscreen display. Owners will also enjoy the hands-free power back door; clever cargo solutions with the fold-flat rear seats; LED headlights; illuminated exterior door handles; and the ornamented leather shift knob.
Other unique features showcased in the RX 450h are the Hybrid System Indicator that displays real-time information about the system’s output and regeneration; an EV Drive mode for silent and emission-free movement at low speeds; a drive-mode selector to match your driving style; a start-stop system that shuts off the engine when stationary; and Adaptive Variable Suspension for a smooth ride expected from a Lexus.
Handling, cabin quietness
Handling quality and cabin quietness, as well as the overall structural rigidity of the vehicle platform have improved significantly. Chief Engineer Takeaki Kato said: “In developing the new model I was determined to keep and further refine the ‘one-of-a-kind’ value that only the RX could create, something which has been cultivated since the first generation.”
In order to achieve this, Kato and his team of engineers identified key areas in the RX 450h’s rocker panels, rear wheelhouses and the underbody where additional spot welds were done.
There’s also the use of structural adhesive that deliver a more rigid body. In all, an extra 4.2 meters of adhesive and 14 weld points have been added in these areas, accomplished using the existing tooling on the production line at the Kyushu plant.
The RX 450h is priced at P5.238 million.
Charles E. Buban is an old timer in the Philippine automotive journalism scene. He first started covering the automotive beat in 2003, writing news and reviews of new models and car tech, among other car-related stuff. When not writing about cars, he could often be seen riding his mountain bike or doing long walks in the hope of catching a couple of legendary Pokemons.