In Eco mode, I would describe acceleration as “lethargic”; in Normal mode “acceptable”; and in Sport mode “brisk”. But the relatively quiet cabin and CVT/engine drone are a bit deceiving. Indeed, according to Consumer Reports, the RX 450h zips from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds, 0.4 seconds faster than the RX 350. This was achieved in a 2010 model that didn’t have the new Sport mode, so I assume it was driven in Normal mode. It’s possible the 2013 RX 450h is slightly quicker in Sport mode. The gas engine isn’t overly noisy despite the CVT keeping engine revs high while the foot is pressed to the floor. And in normal driving and highway cruising, the RX 450h is very quiet. Coasting or braking downhill, the regenerative brakes help recharge the 288-volt nickel-metal hydride battery residing under the rear seat, and the pedal feel isn’t heavy like it is in some hybrids.

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

The RX 450h’s variable-assist electric power steering feel is almost non-existent, and it seems almost detached from the front wheels. Still, that makes it easy to park and make U-turns! The RX 450h’s turning circle of 11.4 m (37.4 ft.) is tighter than RX 350′s 11.8 m (38.8 ft.).

As it is a tall vehicle with 175 mm (6.9 in.) ground clearance, the RX 450h feels a bit tippy in the corners and you won’t derive any fun on a twisty road. However, stability is assured by its many electronic safety nannies including Toyota’s VDIM system, which automatically corrects oversteer and understeer in slippery situations where you might lose control of the vehicle. As well, the optional Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control uses radar waves to measure the distance to the car ahead and maintain a set distance at speed. If a collision appears imminent, the system retracts the front seat belts and primes the brakes for maximum braking force once the driver depresses the pedal.

The step up into the driver’s seat is a bit high for a crossover, but once seated, the driver has a nice driving position with good visibility except for a small blind spot at the right rear pillar. Rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera with a wide-angle lens help eliminate any blind spots when reversing.

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

A height-adjustable driver’s seat and power tilt/telescopic steering wheel help most drivers find a good position, but I found even the lowest seating position higher than I liked. The cabin is roomy with plenty of headroom and legroom at the front and rear. The front seats have a power lumbar adjuster for lower back support and seat heaters with three temperature settings.

In the instrument cluster where the tachometer would normally be is an eco gauge that shows when the battery is being charged (decelerating, braking) and when power is being drawn from it (accelerating). It also shows the “Ready” light and an “Eco mode” or “Sport mode” indicator. Both round gauges are brightly backlit for easy viewing day or night. Between the gauges is a white-on-black information display with a menu controlled by a button on the steering wheel. Here, the driver can see a graphic of the real-time power distribution, average fuel economy, current fuel economy, tire pressure, cruising range, average speed, as well as a fuel gauge, outside temperature and gear indicator.

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