Were you looking for us a few weeks ago and expecting to find us holed up at home with our newborn while adjusting to life as a family of 5? If so, you were probably very disappointed to find our car in the driveway but no one at home. But really, how could you possibly sit at home when you have this beautiful Lexus RX 450h waiting for you to drive it? We took advantage of having a fancy new vehicle to explore in and instead spent our time off enjoying the islands around us, visiting family and friends near and far to show off the new babe, and using it as a great excuse to take some road trip adventures to corners of the Pacific Northwest we don’t often see while having some much-needed family time. When you think road trip mobile you probably don't first think of an SUV, but our week with the Lexus RX 450h has certainly changed my mind. Although it has all the comforts and luxury of a bigger car with hidden consoles, reclining rear seats, and ample leg room in both the front and rear seats, as a hybrid it still has amazing gas mileage on par with a sedan.
These different drive modes include settings for efficiency or speed, and truly change how the Lexus drives. In normal driving the RX has the usual hybrid feel, where throttle inputs are smoothed out and you instantly feel at ease and not at all hurried. It really gets you in the mindset of relaxed driving. Switching to Eco Mode makes the RX stay in full electric mode as much as possible and allows you to achieve maximum efficiency.
While there is a large gauge on the dash to let you know whether you're using gas or electric power, I really liked the subtle top lighting that shines down over the gauges to let you know at a glance when you're driving the most efficiently.
I was worried that switching between these modes would be really distracting while driving, but with years of hybrid technology to draw from, all these systems are integrated very seamlessly into the driving experience. From the engine turning off and on, to the regenerative brakes, everything worked so well that you barely noticed them happening.
Relaxed driving not really your style? I love driving and the feel of zipping along down an open road, so I love that the Lexus RX 450h has Sport Mode for people like me. Whether you are looking for more speed or agility, you will love the Sport Mode that lets you feel all the power the RX 450h has to offer. In Sport Mode the throttle response is much quicker, and it feels like you flipped a switch that adds 40 horsepower instantly.
Now, I love saving money at the pump as much as the next guy, but the Sport Mode was definitely made for people like me that love to drive. This is definitely the mode I would use if I was weaving through busy downtown traffic, or carving up some curvy mountain roads. Of course, all that power is still there in the other modes, you just get a quicker response in Sport Mode. Beyond the different driving modes, there are numerous other ways to personalize many other aspects of the Lexus. Within the electronic controls of the RX 450h you can customize down to even tiny details that truly make the car your own. From custom seat settings and configurable locks to favorite points of interest, there’s tons of ways you can tailor your driving experience. One thoughtful detail that stands out is the fact that you can truly customize your car’s entertainment system just the way you like it. Want three FM stations, one AM, and a news channel? No big deal, just set it up once and the car will remember it for you.
But, this isn’t just a drivers’ paradise, the RX 450h treats all its passengers like the big deal that they are. Even the back seats recline in multiple positions and offer ample leg room so that if you’re chauffeuring around adults instead of toddlers you won’t have to apologize for cramped quarters.
And, that’s just a few of the luxuries you'd expect from a Lexus. Our tester was luxurious both inside and out with an interior outfitted in black leather and bamboo wood trim. The dark leather and light wood looked very modern and clean without seeming like something that was going to be dated quickly.
Speaking of modern and clean, don’t you hate it when you get into a vehicle and there’s so many buttons that nothing seems very intuitive? In the Lexus RX 450h, the minimal design continues onto the dashboard where there are just a few dedicated buttons on the dash and steering wheel for important and often-used functions. The rest of the controls are accessed through the display screen and a touch pad-like controller on the center console that works similar to a computer mouse. This controller is located right where your hand naturally wants to rest next to you, and is just the right size for two fingers. You simply move the touchpad the direction you want the cursor on the screen to move, then press down to select. The coolest part though, is that somehow the touch pad has resistance that changes to match what's on the screen. This lets you actually feel every highlighted item on the screen so you can move around by feel as well as by sight.
While all these controls are pretty intuitive and easy to use, there is a lot that you can customize and control through the electronics in the RX, and it is definitely worth spending some time exploring and playing with. We especially enjoyed the navigation system and the fact that with the appropriate subscription you can search gas stations by price and get real time traffic info, both of which can be time savers and a huge help to your wallet. Another feature that I was skeptical of at first but ended up really liking was the power hatchback door. My first reaction of "Who needs that?" disappeared quickly the first time I had some heavy boxes to move that I didn't have to set down to shut the hatch, but instead I was able to close it from inside the house by remote control. I loved having the option of opening the hatchback on our way out to the car to allow everyone to drop their gear and then I could stand under the door shielded from the elements while I grabbed what we needed at each stop. Now the power hatchback door is on my list of must-haves for any SUV-type vehicle we would ever get, along with many of the other features we enjoyed during our week with the car. Being able to customize and tailor the car to fit each of our needs while enjoying all the luxuries that Lexus has to offer was a blast and I’m only sad that we didn’t get to drive it more during our week with it.
Needless to say, it was quite the shock to the system when the Lexus RX 450h pulled away and we had to return to reality. The kids still talk about how much fun it was to drive around in, and I’m still lamenting the fact that our vehicles aren’t as easy on the wallet every time we fuel up. As for the wife, she’s missing it all – the space, the power everything, the new car smell, the leather, the heated seats, and the fact that it got us out road tripping as a family in comfort and luxury.