2013 Lexus RX 450h
2013 Lexus RX 450h. Click image to enlarge

The RX’s unique “haptic touch controller” in the centre console is like a computer mouse. By tilting it one way or the other, the driver can move the arrow on the centre screen and press down to select an option from the menu. A pleasant popping sound occurs when an item is selected. Generally, I liked this mouse, but its operation is very sensitive and it takes a little practice to move it accurately. As well, it’s a distraction when driving and due care should be exercised. The controller allows the driver to adjust the audio, climate control, navigation, phone, information, and setup functions on the screen, while both the audio and dual-zone climate systems also have conventional dash buttons.

Between the front seats is a padded armrest that slides forward for comfort, and underneath is a large storage bin with USB and 12-volt outlets. The bin includes a separate lower bin with a lid, where longer objects, like a small umbrella, can be stored. In my opinion, you can never have enough cabin storage!

The RX 450h’s trunk area is fully carpeted and easily accessible through the large hatch opening, however the loading height is rather high for heavy objects. Behind the rear seats is 1,132 L (40 cu. ft.) of cargo space, and with both rear seatbacks folded down, there is 2,273 L (80.3 cu. ft.).

2013 Lexus RX 450h. Click image to enlarge

The RX 450h doesn’t really have any direct competitors: the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid is a bit too upmarket and the Audi Q5 hybrid is a bit downmarket while the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is too big and the Toyota Highlander hybrid isn’t a “luxury” vehicle. A diesel VW Touareg is also in a different class, so the closest I could suggest is the Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec. Of all of these vehicles, the RX 450h is probably the least fun to drive but has the best fuel economy.

The Lexus RX 450h is currently built in Kokura, Japan, but Lexus announced recently that the hybrid RX 450h will also be built next to the RX 350 in Cambridge, Ontario starting in early 2014.

Pricing: 2013 Lexus RX 450h
Base price: $56,750
Options: $14,650 (Ultra Premium Package 2: 19-inch tires and aluminum wheels, premium leather seats with front power thigh adjustment, heated wood steering wheel, leather and wood shift knob, woodgrain trim, smart key, 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system with subwoofer and single CD, XM real-time traffic updates, voice-activated HDD navigation system, two-screen rear DVD entertainment system with two wireless headphones, audio and DVD remote control, Dynamic radar cruise control, Pre-collision braking system, Parking Assist, head-up speedo display, LED head lights, and illuminated front door sills.)
Freight: $1,995
Price as tested: $73,395

Audi Q5 Hybrid
Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
Mercedes-Benz ML 350 Bluetec
Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Volkswagen Touareg TDI

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

Connect with Autos.ca