The concept of externally chargeable hybrids looks very advantageous on paper – the car can handle short distances or driving around the city on electricity, while longer journeys will mainly be provided by an engine burning fossil fuel. But the practice is sometimes not so pleasant – for example due to the considerably limited electric range.

However, the Lexus RX 450h+ is one of the plug-in hybrids in which this drive solution can make a lot of sense for some customers, of course those who have the opportunity to charge the car regularly.

The drivetrain of the 450h+ version consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with an output of 136 kW and two electric motors. Each of them drives a different axle – the front has a 134 kW electric motor, the rear has 40 kW. The system output reaches 227 kW, i.e. 309 hp, and everything is completed by the e-CVT planetary gearbox.

More than 70 kilometers on electricity?

But first let’s look at driving on electricity, a capability that is supposed to be a big advantage of plug-in hybrid cars. The RX 450h+ relies on a solidly large battery (it is stored in the floor, so it does not affect the luggage compartment) with a capacity of 18.1 kWh, thanks to which this SUV can travel up to 65 kilometers on electricity, according to the manufacturer’s official data. That sounds good, but… I even managed to travel 73.5 kilometers on one charge!

The greater part of this portion took place in Prague, roughly a third in suburban traffic around the capital. Sure, it was warm and ideal weather conditions prevailed, but more than 70 kilometers filled me with optimism that the Lexus RX 450h+ could handle the daily needs of many electric-only drivers. In the evening, it is enough to connect the car to the charger, top up the energy overnight and use the “juice” from the battery again the next day. By the way, Lexus can charge up to 6.6 kW and can charge “from zero to one hundred” in two and a half hours.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

The design of the new generation of the RX model follows on from its predecessor, but it is quite a significant evolution.

As an electric car, the Lexus RX 450h+ feels likeable, it’s quiet, it feels quite nimble, especially in city traffic, and the ride is pleasantly fluid and smooth.

Another option for using the car is the hybrid mode. You can activate it yourself, and it will automatically turn on when the car evaluates that there is no longer enough energy in the battery for electric mode. However, this does not mean that the battery is completely discharged, because Lexus keeps a reserve just for the hybrid mode. In it, the car controls the energy flow by itself as needed. And if it can, it doesn’t hesitate to disengage the internal combustion engine to save fuel – typically in situations where four-cylinder power isn’t needed.

I must say that the plug-in hybrid system in the RX 450h+ seems very coordinated and the switching between individual drives is smooth. You often don’t even notice that Lexus has plugged (or unplugged) an internal combustion engine.

The four-cylinder is refined, especially at low load, only with more forceful acceleration will the monotonous hum of the engine driven to higher revs be heard. This is a typical manifestation of a device with this gearbox. In the RX 450h+, it is very well dampened, so it does not seem particularly distracting, but you will notice it.

In addition, the temporary discreet hum is balanced by the solid dynamics offered by the combination of all three engines. Weighing more than 2.1 tons, the SUV accelerates pleasantly willingly and flexibly, so it can quickly and safely overtake, it has no problems even in the left lane on the highway – even in Germany.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

The digital instrument panel is clear and easy to read.

And consumption? As with all plug-in hybrids, it is not easy, thirst affects the regularity of charging. The more often the car can rely on a charged battery, the less the internal combustion engine will speak. Anyway, at the moment when there was so little electricity in the battery that the car refused to activate the electric mode and functioned as a classic hybrid, the on-board computer showed an average of 7.8/100 km after several hundred kilometers in combined traffic (including the highway).

Lexus as it should be

I have long associated the Lexus brand with first-class comfort, perfect workmanship and a premium-looking interior. The RX 450h+ offers all of this.

It behaves well on the road, is beautifully comfortable and impresses with its wonderfully soundproofed cabin. As soon as you slam the door behind you, it’s as if the world around you almost ceases to exist. The plug-in hybrid SUV also very nicely filters the imperfections of the surface under the wheels, only very rarely does some noise penetrate the cabin caused by hitting a pothole or crossing a broken section.

However, the Lexus does not seem soft or excessively swingy, it bends quite willingly into corners and can handle sharp changes of direction decently – at least for an almost 4.9-meter-long and more than 2.1-meter-heavy “exeuvéchko”. Of course, don’t expect a sporty performance, the car is really tuned mainly “for comfort”. This applies to both the steering and the chassis.

In my opinion, the interior is absolutely beautiful, especially in the most expensive Luxury version tested, which offers not only rich equipment, but also valuable materials, great-looking details or perhaps great seats or an excellent audio system.

Photo: Lukáš Kukla

This is what a luxurious and premium interior should look like.

The ergonomics are also good. Although the current generation RX does not have many buttons in the cabin and the control of most functions is provided by the infotainment touchscreen, since the screen offers a 14-inch diagonal, it also provides a huge “work area”, which includes a separate “panel” for air conditioning settings. It also includes rotary controls for temperature control.

In addition, Infotainment allows you to quickly access the menu of frequently used functions, which also facilitates operation. In the menu, for example, you can easily turn off the warning about exceeding the speed limit (which, like in other cars, is sometimes inaccurate and often annoying) or lane keeping.

The infotainment itself is not bad either. I could imagine a better use of the huge display area, but at least it is quite clear (albeit only after you have thoroughly “crawled through it”), works pleasantly briskly and pleases with rich connectivity. The touch surfaces on the steering wheel didn’t suit me too well, classic buttons would have been better in my opinion.

I have nothing to complain about the interior space, there is enough space on both rows of seats. The trunk holds 612 litres, has a practical shape and I have to praise the possibility to fold the backrests of the rear seats with buttons directly from the trunk.

The Lexus RX 450h+ is a very pleasant car in which I honestly enjoyed spending time on the road. It is comfortable, refined, quite nimble and economical and will delight with its premium and spacious interior. In addition, it adds a solid electric range, which can be an interesting benefit for customers who have the opportunity to charge regularly.

In terms of price, the plug-in hybrid 450h+ is in the middle of the motorization range of the RX model. The basis is the 350h hybrid version, which starts at CZK 1,790,000 in Comfort, followed by our externally chargeable hybrid 450h+ starting at CZK 2,090,000 (again Comfort) and at the top we find the 500h variant, a hybrid with a turbocharged four-cylinder and a maximum system output of 273 kW (371 hp). It is only available with F Sport equipment for 2,530,000 CZK. The tested plug-in hybrid RX 450h+ with the highest Luxury equipment costs CZK 2,590,000.

Motor in-line four-cylinder, petrol + 2 electric motors
Displacement volume 2,487 cm3
Performance 136 kW (185 hp) at 6,000 rpm.
Torque 227 Nm at 3,600 – 3,700 rpm.
Electric motor 134 kW (182 hp) and 240 Nm (front), 40 kW (54 hp) and 121 Nm (rear)
The combined performance of the hybrid system 227 kW (309 hp)
Transmission e-CVT
Tree all four wheels
Standby weight 2 110 kg
Acceleration 0-100 km/h 6,5 s
Maximal speed 180 km/h
Combined consumption (standardized) 1.1 l/100 km
Fuel tank volume 55 l
Battery capacity 18,1 kWh
Electric range up to 65 km
Charging AC 6,6 kW
Wheels and tires 235/50 R21
Dimensions (length/width/height) 4 890/1 929/1 695 mm
Wheelbase 2 850 mm
Volume of the luggage compartment 612 l