Car Tested: RXL 450h Luxury

Price as tested £54,095

CO2 136g CO2/km 3.5 Litre petrol hybrid

Copyright Dominic Parkes 2018

With Thanks to: Lexus Poole, West Quay Road, Poole BH15 1JF.
01202 974044.

By Dominic Parkes

Are you sitting comfortably? No, I am not about to deliver bad news or tell a story about three little pigs and their inability to build a wind-proof house. I only ask as I think I have found just about the most supremely comfortable car in which to sit.

The Lexus RXL has got to be on the same level as a Range Rover for comfort, calm-inducing cabin space and general feeling of well-being. However, I would say the Lexus aces it because being sat in a RR instantly makes you a hate figure. The perception is that you are a footballer, capitalist swine or just enjoy polluting the planet with an over-large and unnecessary behemoth. Not so with the Lexus as people don’t really know what it is. This was proved when I took the family to Bath for the day and was surprised to be let out of junctions and other drivers would wait patiently as I squeezed it in to a parking space – because there is no getting away from it, it is a big vehicle. Although a large SUV it is strangely calming to drive. Even when I was cut up by a wide boy in traffic my equilibrium was untroubled. Part of the fun is seeing how far you can whisper around the streets on electric power before the mighty 3.5 litre engine smoothly takes over.

The hybrid system is brilliant. It harvests energy through braking which then allows you the opportunity to smile smugly as you breeze past a puffing cyclist. It is easy to see why the RX has such a loyal following. But now Lexus has added a third row of seats, hence the ‘L’, does it still make sense? In a word, ‘Yes’.  Sure, it is no Alfa Romeo Stelvio in the way it handles the curved tarmac, but an Alfa has always been a vehicle you choose with your heart as opposed to your head. The third row of seats in the Lexus is a bit of a squeeze and only suitable for children really – once their limbs start growing it will compromise the middle row of seats which will have to slide forward.

We must remember that this vehicle is only 4.3 inches longer than the five-seater and if you want a super-comfortable seven-seater you will end up with a minivan or something resembling a 1970s Peugeot 505 estate, which I seem to remember could be in two counties at the same time such was its length.

If you put the third row down, using the rather slow electric assistance, 430 litres of space is revealed. The interior is the usual very high quality that comes as standard with Lexus. Quality leather seats and a beautifully constructed cabin with tactile switches plus a whopping 12 inch Sat Nav which is a joy to use. The fiddly mouse-like controller is still there for on-screen choices. Beside that minor irritation it is a fabulous place to sit – have I already mentioned that?

When prodded the 3.5 litre petrol engine whisks the car along in a very brisk and serene way. It may be slightly slower than the five-seat RX but it is hard to tell as both provide smooth constant power through the eight-speed CVT gearbox. It has a great all-wheel drive system that I can vouch for on tarmac but as I didn’t venture off-road I cannot really comment on. I think it is safe to say it is not a mud-plugger but it will safely convey you and six others from a wet Point-to-Point field to the safety of the black stuff.

If you are in the market for a premium SUV that makes a nod towards saving the planet then I suggest that you at least sit in it.  Although I warn you, you may not want to get out…

 

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