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First Drive : Lexus RX450hL

The RX 450hL, its first seven-seat Lexus model in Ireland

Lexus adds a much sought-after third row to their RX writes Geraldine Herbert

What is it? For car companies the attraction of a five seat SUV is simple, they appeal to families, millennials, and women but throw in a extra two seats and you are on to an even bigger winner as everyone it seems these days is in need of something larger and hence the boom in seven seat SUVs. Lexus is the latest to add a much sought-after third row to their popular RX. It’s over 20 years since the RX arrived and it was exactly what a luxury SUV should be, smooth, fast and fuel efficient. More than 2.7m RXs have been sold in the past two decades and the extended version will certainly add to that total.

First impressions of the new RX450hL?  Little change is apparent from the exterior and it has been cleverly stretched by 110mm without compromising on the sleek look. Inside the high-end fittings will charm the premium Lexus clientele. Sliding into the cockpit surrounds you in quality finishes and the wireless phone charger and the12.3 inch dashboard monitor on our top of the range test model worked well but some of the buttons on the infotainment system are small and fiddly.

What about the interior?  Inside it has also been thoughtfully reworked to accommodate the extra two seats rather than simply shoe horning them into the original five seater. The rear seats are accessed by folding flat  and passengers in the second row seats can slide up to 150mm allowing for various adjustments depending on passenger needs. Access to the third row is made easy with the touch of a lever that slides the second seat forward and the second row has now been raised giving it a more theatre like seating. However as a third row go it is a little snug and while none of these occasional use seats are ever what could be described as comfy these are borderline cramped. On the plus side there are two useful cupholders in the centre of the third row and the air conditioning system can be controlled independently for each row.Also when the 3rd row seats are in place though there is 176 litres of storage remaining in the boot.

Under the bonnet?  Powering this planet-pleasing seven-seat hybrid is a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor. With a combined power of 230 kW and torque of 335Nm it is enough to accelerate this large SUV from 0 – 100 in eight seconds while fuel economy is around 5.9 litres per 100 km and Co2 emissions are 136g/km.

All models feature power-folding third row seats and triple-zone climate control

How does it drive?  The RX is best appreciated on the motorway where everything is smoothness in motion and for super economical driving you can select the EV mode which switches the car to an all electric mode making it ideal for short journeys or running local errands. But the RX is as much a green manifesto as it is true off roader. The All Wheel Drive system features the addition of a 50 kW electric motor that drives the rear wheels and yes I know the purpose of having all-wheel-drive capability in urban settings remains hard to fathom there is certain reassurance about it all.

What about safety?  The Lexus Safety System + comes as standard and keeps you and passengers safe on the road and includes Pre-Collision System and Pedestrian Detection.

Will it break the bank?  Priced from €82,450 the RX L is available in just two grades, Luxury and Premium. Seven-seat hybrids are not in plentiful supply in Ireland so two extra seats is likely to pay big dividends and stretch (excuse the pun) of the RX’s appeal.

First Impressions?  The RXL will carry not only you, your children and their school bags, but also their friends but will it be enough to convince buyers to make the jump from RX to RXL for small occasional use seats. Lexus reckon over half their buyers will opt to fork out the €11,000 premium over the five seater RX for the convenience. So while the average household size is 2.7 people maybe we should take the advice of well intentioned car companies and go forth and multiply – at least on a occasional basis anyway.

What it says about you?  You like to keep ahead of the pack but you never compromise on space, equipment or safety.

3 words to describe the Lexus RX450hL? Stylish, Spacious, Smart

 

For more info on the Lexus RX450hL check out lexus.ie , the Lexus Ireland Facebook page or follow Lexus Ireland on twitter

 

Geraldine Herbert

19th June, 2018

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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