Buyer’s Guide: Lexus Crosses Over to the Green Side

The car manufacturer unveils their luxury hybrid crossover and we’re riding shotgun

Lexus' green machine (Image: JeffCars.com)

Lexus' green machine (Image: JeffCars.com)

 

 

2011 LEXUS RX 450h AWD

  • MSRP: $55,784 (Base price starts at $44,180)
  • Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter/295
  • Fuel Mileage: 32-city/28-highway
  • Highlights: 9-speaker audio system with CD player and XM limited subscription; 18-inch wheels; rear privacy glass; 10-way driver and passenger (front seat); partial reclining rear seats; Lexus Personalized Settings (LPS), which allow certain vehicle settings to be tailored to owner preference; keyless entry; push-button starter; cloth seats
  • Competition: 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid (Being introduced at the 2011 New York International Auto Show)

WHAT’S NEW:

The second-generation, five-passenger, luxury hybrid crossover first hit the market in the summer of 2009—as a 2010 model—wearing a new name and design. For the 2011 model year, the vehicle is virtually unchanged. The only additions to this well designed machine are a few new exterior colors.

PROS:

The RX 450h is available in both a front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive model. Also Lexus’ best-selling hybrid can be outfitted with a host of high-end features to help personalize the vehicle—for a price, of course.

Some of the available high-tech features on the RX 450h includes a 330-watt, 15-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound system, heated and cooled front seats, a dual-screen rear-seat mounted entertainment system, a dynamic radar cruise control— which automatically adjusts the speed and distance for the driver before rear-ending a another vehicle—and a Sports Package, featuring a sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels. Yes, all of this on a hybrid!

Moreover, the luxury crossover is available with a one-of-a-kind Pre-Collision System (PCS). With the use of radar technology, the PCS recognizes a possible frontal collision and primes the brake assist and retracts the driver’s and front passenger’s seatbelt in anticipation of a crash. In addition to that, the RX 450h is also available with two available headlight systems, which swivel in the direction of the steering wheel and the speed of the vehicle. An added bonus that helps to improve the overall lighting when cornering.

The lap of luxury (Image: Lexus)

Just like in the HS 250h, Lexus’ all-dedicated midsize luxury sedan, the navigation system in the RX 450h can be controlled by “Remote Touch,” an easy-to-use mouse-like controller located within arms’ reach of the center armrest. Techies will be enamored with the mouse since it can be customized to the desired level of haptic feedback.

Oh, and I can’t forget Lexus’ rearview camera. Unlike the typical back-up camera, this one provides a wide-angle side view monitor. Cameras are positioned everywhere, allowing drivers to check hard-to-view areas on the passenger side of the vehicle by simply selecting a button on the navigation screen or the steering wheel. Yes, Big Brother is as always riding along with you even when you don’t need him.

CONS:

With all of the technology in this Lexus, why doesn’t this vehicle offer an electronic blind spot detection system? Even the non-premium priced Ford Fusion offers one to their customers. With this feature, the driver is alerted via an audible lighted display in the side-view mirrors of objects in his/her blind spot before changing lanes.

Also, why isn’t the vehicle equipped with a panoramic roof? Even Kia has this feature available in their entry-level crossover, the Sportage.

FINAL VERDICT:

Lexus continues to be a trendsetter and set a standard in the auto industry with this second-generation midsize crossover. Being behind the wheel of this vehicle, one can easily get a glimpse of the future of the car industry and how far it has come from the days of the horse and buggy.

While many automakers are gunning after Lexus with their look-a-like vehicles, none of them have built a hybrid in this segment to counter the RX 450h. Sure, loading up this luxury cruiser with all the options will run the sticker price upwards of $66,000, but with all the latest gadgets packed in this cool-looking crossover it’ll be well worth it. In the end, you’ll be driving green while everyone else is green with envy.

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com.

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