Although Lexus calls this a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), the RX450h is built on a unibody, not a full frame, so technically it’s a crossover with limited utility. Still, it’s capable of towing 3,500 pounds, and it is definitely a comfortable luxury vehicle packed with advanced features. With a total of 295 horsepower and a curb weight that can top 4,650 pounds in the 4WD version, acceleration is acceptable if not exactly sporting. But most importantly, its real-world average fuel economy of about 27 mpg is about 10 mpg better than its non-hybrid competitors.
In theory this is a 4X4, but since the driver cannot select four-wheel-drive, it’s only available for the vehicle’s stability control system. Up front is a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine, two electric motor/generators and a special planetary gear set that acts as a continuously variable transmission. A third electric motor on the rear axle adds power only if the front wheels are slipping. However, if the vehicle stops with all four wheels on a slippery surface, it’s difficult to get moving again because the computer won’t provide power to the wheels if they’re slipping.
Although Lexus is known for building top-quality products, we found several important Technical Service Bulletins for this model. They address coolant leaks, oil leaks, several fuel injection system problems and leaking rear shock absorbers. Service can be expensive at a Lexus dealership, but that may be the best place to fix these problems if the vehicle is still under warranty. However, for normal service and mechanical repairs, any shop that advertises hybrid service should have no trouble with this vehicle.
To find a hybrid vehicle service shop near you, go to shop finder on this web site.