In addition to the new Sport driving mode, the 2013 Lexus RX 450h receives more aggressive styling similar to that of other new Lexus vehicles, consisting mainly of a pinched “spindle” grille, a new front bumper design, new fog lights, new LED running lights and new tail lights. I’m not sure I like it. Is it just me, or are new vehicles getting more angry-looking?

Test Drive: 2013 Lexus RX 450h car test drives luxury cars lexus greenreviews
2013 Lexus RX 450h. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2013 Lexus RX 450h car test drives luxury cars lexus greenreviews
2013 Lexus RX 450h. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2013 Lexus RX 450h car test drives luxury cars lexus greenreviews
2013 Lexus RX 450h. Click image to enlarge

Inside, there’s a new steering wheel, a revised Eco gauge, different climate control switches, a larger redesigned centre console storage bin, better audio system, and a second generation mouse-like console controller for navigating the various functions available in the centre screen such as navigation and audio.

Last, but not least, is a price reduction of almost $3,000. The 2013 base MSRP of $56,750 is $2,950 less than the base 2012 MSRP. However, there are five option packages available, some of which can boost the price to over $70,000: the Touring Package ($4,100), Ultra Premium Package 1 ($10,300), Ultra Premium Package 1 with Blind Spot Monitoring ($10,850), Ultra Premium Package 2 ($14,650), and the Ultra Premium Package 2 with Blind Spot Monitoring ($15,200). Our test vehicle came equipped with the Ultra Premium Package 2, which includes just about everything in the other packages. The list is long, but the highlights are 19-inch alloys, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, radar cruise control, rear DVD entertainment system, heated wood steering wheel, and premium leather seats. Including a Freight charge of $1,995 and $100 A/C tax, the as-tested price came to $73,395.

As with other Toyota and Lexus vehicles powered by “Hybrid Synergy Drive”, the RX 450h is a full hybrid that can run on electric power alone, engine power alone, or a combination of both. In the all-wheel-drive RX 450h, there is an extra electric motor-generator at the rear to drive the rear wheels when all-wheel drive is called for by the electronic controller-there is no drive-shaft connecting the front motor with the rear wheels. In addition, there is an electric motor to drive the front wheels and another engine-driven generator to start the engine motor and charge the battery or add additional power. It’s all controlled automatically by a power control unit.

When the ignition button is pressed, a small Ready light comes on in the instrument cluster. Usually, the engine doesn’t start; the car is ready to go on battery power alone. Starting out and at low speeds, the RX450h uses only electric power, but the V6 engine starts automatically if the driver accelerates briskly-that happens often, I found. The automatic engine start-up while driving is almost seamless; the sound of the engine is more noticeable than any vibration, but it feels funny to have the engine revving independently of the acceleration curve-one of the characteristics of a full hybrid that you’ll need to get used to. When accelerating, both the gas engine and front and rear electric motors provide power, and while cruising only the gas engine operates, driving the front wheels. Except for the sound differences, all of this is basically invisible to the driver and passengers.

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