The luxury hybrid segment gets a whole lot quicker and interesting with the new 2013 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid hitting the road. When Akio Toyoda took over the reigns at Toyota, he vowed to make the Toyota and Lexus lineup more sporty. And the new RX 450h is a good example of the changes that have been coming to the luxury brand. The brand was starting to get boring and only appealed to those over 50. Lexus needed to reach out to a younger generation and it looks like they are succeeding.
The 450h not only gets good fuel mileage and low emissions, but it gets a new Sport mode that changes the driving dynamics significantly for the better. Gone are the days of boring hybrids that get good mileage, but can’t get out of their own way. Today we’re seeing new technology that will change people’s opinions of hybrids and also electric propulsion. The Toyota Corporation has some of the best hybrid technology in the world, and now they are starting to mate it with performance.
Hybrid technology is evolving
Why should you care about a luxury SUV hybrid grocery hauler? This technology will be used in more and more vehicles as we see these systems evolve. And if most of your driving is around town and in stop-and-go traffic, it will matter to you.
Just take a look at the fuel mileage and we’ll see the technology is getting better. The luxury SUV hybrid gets better mileage than its RX 350 stablemate and also achieves a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV II) certification in California, and a Tier 2-Bin 3 emissions rating in all other states.
The 2013 RX 450h is EPA-rated at 32/28 mpg city/highway, the RX 450h AWD that we are testing gets 30/28 mpg. For the 2013 model, Lexus engineers added a new Sport mode that changes the steering effort, throttle mapping and transmission shifting. This makes the new 450h a lot more fun to drive than other comparable luxury SUVs.
Performance is comparable to gas-only models
That translates directly to better performance overall, and especially when it comes off the line. Acceleration performance is now comparable to that of the gasoline-only versions. That can make going to the grocery store a lot more interesting. We are beginning to see what a gas engine mated to an electric motor is capable of.
With its electric motor, the 2013 RX 450h AWD accelerates more quickly than the gas RX 350 models do. Lexus claims 0-60 performance of 7.4 seconds for the 2013 RX Hybrid with all-wheel drive (7.8 seconds with front-wheel drive). We took the 450h up I-70 at altitude west of Denver and were thoroughly impressed with the performance. The luxury SUV felt much lighter and nimble than its 4510 lb weight would suggest. It smoked some of the other SUVs who were heading west for a weekend in the mountains.
The RX 450h with all-wheel drive ($47,310) comes with a bit more standard equipment than the RX 350. Both come with fabric upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, AM/FM/6CD with nine speakers and a luxury level of standard equipment. 2013 RX models come standard with a power rear liftgate.
Technology abounds inside
Inside, the cabin features a level of luxury you would expect from Lexus. It features a level of technology that gives the driver a sensation that feels just like configuring a new computer. The number of adjustments needed to drive the 450h takes more time than in most new SUVs. This tester came with a Heads-Up Display, Back-up camera and Remote Touch Controller and navigation.
The Premium Mark Levinson sound system was the only disappointment. It may have great surround sound, but it took hours to figure out how to change and lock in the radio station. Maybe this writer is getting too old to figure the complicated system out. Anyone under 20 years old would have likely had it figured out in a matter of seconds.
Overall, the 2013 Lexus RX 450h hybrid is exceptionally quiet and sumptuously comfortable inside. It comes with a long list of safety features and has an even longer list of electronic accessories that are for the most part user-friendly. The new 2013 450h gets a whole lot quicker, plus it offers greater fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness of a hybrid.
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