Driving a monster of an SUV is something I hadn’t done on English soil. In America I’d driven a Mitsubishi Outlander from Boston Massachusetts up to the Northern tip of Maine. Over on the west coast - during a different holiday - it was the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid that took us through the evergreen states of Washington and Oregon.
Though the scenery wasn’t as dramatic back in Manchester, the car I was driving more than made up for it. When it came to discovering how easy the RX450h Premier was to drive, it soon moved into a class of its own. All you need to do is point the steering wheel in the direction you want to go - then operate the pedals.
It felt different though - to any car I had driven before, and that’s because the vehicle combines a 3.5 V6 Petrol engine with two electric motors, delivering power to all four wheels. In essence, the car never really feels like it’s running or even switched on.
What I wasn’t surprised to learn, after handing the car back, was that the Lexus RX registered a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP’s crash tests. With 10 airbags decked out in the car, including one for the driver’s knees, it also boasts lane keeping assistant and adaptive cruise control.
Another great feature with the RX is that it constantly monitors temperatures inside and outside. ‘Climate Concierge’ automatically adjusts cabin, seat and steering wheel temperatures. And infrared sensors track the body temperature of your rear seat passengers, adjusting air conditioning and seat heating/ cooling. Saying this, the car’s petrol/ electrical power unit was slightly overwhelming - there are buttons everywhere. One example is the mouse just behind the gear stick that controls the widescreen infotainment system. It wasn’t the easiest to use while on the move.
Another point to add is that this is a big car to say the least. You feel its size when you are on roads, as others do too. Parking though, couldn’t be easier, thanks to standard fit proximity sensors front and rear - and a reversing camera. The RX450h Premier which retails for £59,495, also features a stronger chassis than previous models - laser screw welding is carried out to produce far better strength in the body - improved front suspension and new steering.
Of course, the Lexus RX didn’t just pop up from nowhere. It was first introduced back in 1998, as a pure petrol model. Seven years later it became fully hybrid with the world’s first Hybrid SUV RX400h. And boy how that has evolved.
The RX450h Premier scores 10 out of 10 for both style and safety and is a car that gives you control - especially if you can figure out what all the buttons in and around the dash do.
Put simply, I didn’t want to give it back when my time driving it came to an end. What I couldn’t figure out was whether I want to drive this luxury SUV for good on home soil; or if I want to hire it during my next trip to the States.
The car Alex drove was a Lexus RX450h Premier, £59,495. Supplied by RRG Group, Lexus Bolton, 301 Bury Road, Bolton BL2 6BB. 01204 684308