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.
First Drive: 2014 Acura MDX
Acura practically invented the segment for luxury CUVs with three rows with the introduction of the first MDX in 2001, and now Acura is introducing the third generation of this vehicle with the 2014 model year with significant upgrades over the previous model. The market for 7-passenger luxury CUVs in now crowded with very healthy competition from other luxury brands, but Acura will remain very competitive with this all-new MDX. I had the opportunity to drive the new model and I came away very impressed.
The changes to the exterior design of the MDX aren’t dramatic, as Acura sticks with its wedge-shaped grille for the front end, but the Jewel Eye LED headlights give the vehicle a much more modern look and feel as you can see from the photos above. The new headlights also provide superior road light and visibility as well. Acura slightly altered the size of vehicle, making it slightly narrower and longer. The new MDX is two inches longer with a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase which helps to enhance ride quality. Meanwhile, the vehicle width was reduced by 1.3 inches. The frontal area of the vehicle is also 2-percent smaller which helped to provide for greater aerodynamic efficiency. While the vehicle looks more modern with a number of refinements to the design, it retains the sporty essence that makes it an attractive option in this segment.
Acura strived to make significant improvements to the interior of the MDX with the goal of creating “synergy between man and machine.” The result was a very luxurious and practical driving experience that will appeal to buyers in this segment. The overall feel is modern and sophisticated and I experienced a very comfortable drive that will meet the expectations of the target market.
I particularly liked the improvements to the center stack. The center console storage area is large and well thought out with a handy slot for mobile phone storage. The sliding lid above the storage area and below the leather-trimmed top is equipped with rubber strips which prevents items like phones from sliding around.
Another feature that stood out for me was the turn-by-turn navigation feature in the main dashboard which compliments the main navigation system in the center stack, letting drivers see instructions in their direct line of site without needing to turn their heads to the main display panel in the center stack. The MDX also features a new 7-inch color On Demand Multi-Use Display touchscreen with haptic feedback which helped to reduce the number of hard buttons in the center stack from 41 to 9.
For the third row seats, Acura wanted to make it easier to get in and out, so they added a very convenient “one push” button in two different places for second row seats. With the longer wheelbase, the new MDX now has 4.5-inch wider foot entry point for third-row passengers along with a 1.8-inch lower floor height for easier step-in. With the new
Extended Slide second-row seats the process of getting into the third row is now much easier.
The new MDX is powered by a direct-injected 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 engine, generating 290 horsepower at 6,200 rpm; 267 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm and 267 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The aluminumV-6 engine is paired with a reengineered 6-speed automatic transmission that provides reduced friction and smoother gear changes. I drove the all-wheel drive model and was very impressed with the responsiveness and acceleration. I’m partial to vehicles that offer different driving modes so I was happy to see that the MDX offers Sport, Normal and Comfort modes. You can really have fun with the Sport mode option and the paddle shifters, and when you’re stuck in slower traffic you can save more fuel with the Comfort mode. Speaking of fuel, the 2014 MDX also achieves best-in-class fuel economy with 18/27/21 MPG city/highway/combined for the AWD package.
The MDX is a family-friendly vehicle that also meets the expectations of luxury buyers. It’s a beautiful vehicle, inside and out, and it’s loaded with all the luxuries and amenities you’d expect from today’s luxury vehicles. Buyers with families will also appreciate all of the safety features as well. Prices range from roughly $42,290 for the base 2-wheel drive model to $56,505 range for the fully loaded SH-AWD model. If you’re in the market for a luxury CUV the MDX should be on your list.
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