The Lexus RX450h’s cabin is one of its strongest assets. It’s a comfortable environment in which to spend time and has enough high-class materials and clever details to make the car feel suitably expensive. Excellent refinement – a result of a class-leading drag coefficient as well as the hybrid drive and quiet petrol motor – is also one of its biggest plus points.
A typical SUV seating position has the driver sitting high on soft, flat-cushioned chairs that offer a very broad range of adjustability. Forward visibility is also good, although the clever side and rear cameras are welcome for judging the car’s bulbous shape in tight parking spots.
Unfortunately, the main dashboard interface is less accommodating. The colour screen now sits higher in the dashboard, more level with the driver’s line of sight, but the fiddly Remote Touch computer-style mouse is an inconvenient way to control the car’s ancillaries. There’s a nice feel to the square joystick, which clicks when it touches an icon on the screen, but it’s more time-consuming and less intuitive than a simple rotating knob. Although most functions are also controllable from the steering wheel, this still seems like an unnecessarily difficult system.
The Lexus also falls down on practicality. Boot space with the rear seats up is just 496 litres – a good 120 litres less than that offered by the BMW X5. Even rivals with seven seats provide more room with the third row dropped, and despite the sliding rear seats that can fold 40/20/40 and also recline, buyers may be swayed by the extra practicality offered elsewhere.