Car Review: 2015 Lexus RX 450h


The Lexus RX is a midsize luxury crossover that will appeal to a wide variety of consumers. We tested the hybrid model with the 2015 Lexus RX 450h, which definitely proved to be a pleasant option during a week of January weather. The roominess and comfort of the Lexus RX coupled with the fuel efficiency of the hybrid model offers a tempting option for consumers to consider.

The new spindle grille introduced by Lexus looks great on the RX. It’s not too aggressive, but it certainly adds some much-needed styling to the overall look of the RX.

Hybrid fans have to be thrilled that they have so many options these days, and now you can feel good about saving fuel while enjoying the comforts of a luxury CUV. The interior of the RX 450h is very roomy and comfortable, and it’s ideal for families and city driving. Our driving team ran plenty of errands around town enjoying the comfort of this vehicle.

The RX now features a standard Display Audio with Rear Backup Camera with a seven-inch monitor. We found it very easy to use considering all the options.

It’s all about gas mileage if you’re considering a hybrid, and the Lexus RX 450h delivers nicely. The RX 450h will achieve 32 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 30 mpg combined (30/28/29 MPG with AWD). But you’re not sacrificing performance with the RX 450h which the performance of 295 combined system horsepower, with substantial torque at all speeds. Our team enjoyed driving this vehicle in all sorts of conditions.

The RX 450h is a full hybrid with an impressive variety of driving options. It can operate in electric-only, gas-engine-only or combined gas and electric modes. The Lexus Hybrid Drive combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a front-mounted 116-kW electric motor generator, with a continuously variable transmission. Our model also featured on-demand all-wheel drive which is great in bad weather.

Four driving modes can be selected by the driver, including EV, which allows the vehicle to operate on electric-only power at low speeds under certain conditions. Other modes include Normal, Eco and Sport for plenty of flexibility. We were definitely impressed with the responsiveness in Sport mode.

In a growing midsize crossover market, consumers seem to have an endless supply of choices these days. There are plenty of options regardless of your tastes and budget ranges. If you’re in the luxury market and you appreciate the value of a hybrid, the Lexus RX 450h offers an excellent option. Drive it and see for yourself.


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Car Review: 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium


Buick has taken a major step forward by entering the small luxury crossover market with the all-new 2013 Buick Encore. In the U.S., sales of compact crossovers are expected to grow more than 360,000 units by 2015 as buyers’ needs and priorities evolve. While many luxury brands offer similarly sized vehicles in other countries, Buick is one of the first to offer one to U.S. consumers. We spent a week driving the 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium and now understand why this market is on a growth path.


The 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium might be considerably smaller than the traditional Buick vehicle, but there is no mistaking Encore for anything other than a Buick. Encore’s sculpted and elegant styling identifies it as a contemporary Buick. Signature cues include a waterfall grille, chrome accents and surrounds, portholes on the hood and painted lower panels. Standard body-color door handles with chrome strips and a styled, stainless steel exhaust tip add to the premium look. Blue-accented halogen composite projector-beam headlamps and detailed tail lamps further enhance the Encore exterior, and 18-inch, five-spoke painted aluminum wheels are standard. Seven-spoke chromed aluminum wheels were on our test Encore and they really elevated the appearance. Our test model also boasted deep tinted glass, outside heated and power adjustable body color mirrors, chrome door handles and roof rack with side rails.


My first reaction after entering the cabin of the 2013 Buick Encore FWD Premium was a bit of surprise at how much space was available for both the front and rear passengers. With room for five and up to 48.4 cubic feet (1,371 liters) of storage space with the rear seat folded, the Encore offers substantial cargo capacity along with its confident, higher driving position. Encore’s distinctive styling carries over to a flowing instrument panel that wraps naturally into the door panels. A prominent central instrument panel houses the seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color display for the standard IntelliLink voice-activated infotainment system. It also features displays for the SiriusXM satellite radio and standard rearview camera, as well as the GPS-enabled navigation system. An all-ebony or contemporary mix of dark and light tones distinguishes the cabin, which is accented with ice-blue ambient lighting, select use of bright chrome and wood grain trim.

Premium seats feature high-density foam for greater comfort on long drives. They are trimmed in either a contemporary cloth/leatherette or available premium leather. The 60/40 flat-folding rear seat features a fold-down armrest with cup holders. We were impressed by the comfort seating and upscale feel of the leather seats.

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