Thursday, January 18, 2018
Business

The Daily Drivers: RX 450h adds an electric elegance

The Lexus RX is one of our favorite crossovers in any class. We've always liked its combination of luxury and utility. Until recently, we'd never driven the hybrid version of this midsize SUV, the RX 450h, which holds the promise of bringing greater fuel efficiency to the feature-laden vehicle. Lexus already has rolled out the 2015 models.

Appearance: The RX was one of the first luxury SUVs on the market when it debuted in the late '90s. Some might find the look a bit dated, even with the recent redesign. But the RX 450h is still handsome, with elegant lines, tapered side windows, a built-in roof rack and sloped rear hatch with integrated spoiler. Classic. Giving the RX 450h a little more contemporary touch are Lexus' spindle grille, chrome accents, LED running lights and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Performance: The RX 450h is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired with a hybrid-electric motor, which makes for a combined 295 horsepower. That power is channeled through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Our tester was the front-wheel drive version weighing 4,500 pounds (AWD tops 4,600). That may account for the rather sluggish acceleration from a stop — you'll have to floor the accelerator to really motivate this SUV. Still, the transitions from electric to gas engine are smooth and hardly noticeable. The ride is tuned for comfort, and is well-composed. Lyra found the brakes to be inconsistent — sometimes grabby, sometimes needing extra push. The estimated fuel economy is a combined 30 MPG (29 for the AWD), which is good for such a heavy vehicle, but the V-6 calls for more costly premium gas.

Interior: Quiet and comfortable, with the usual top-notch Lexus fit and finish. Our tester's white-leather seats — striking against the dark interior — were supportive and plush, which makes them perfect for long drives. The rear seats both recline and slide, and they provide lots of legroom. (Note to families: The RX does not offer third-row seating.) For 2014, a 115-volt outlet has been added for rear passengers, which is handy for those with gadgets. We've always liked the RX's asymmetrical center console with its brushed aluminum and wood trim, as well as the inset 7-inch LCD screen that protects against glare. The driver's gauges are backlit and easy to read. The Mark Levinson premium surround sound system with 15 speakers — optional as park of Premium Package ($2,570) — is especially good in the quiet cabin. Our tester also had the $4,920 rear entertainment system with two 7-inch headrest monitors and wireless headphones. Other tech goodies: navigation with voice command, backup camera and Lexus' Enform infotainment system.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Cargo: The rear seat backs fold flat for excellent storage space (up to 80.3 cubic feet).

Warning: For 2014, a precollision warning system is available on AWD models.

Ride: Comfortable and quiet, with little noise intrusion.

Lyra Solochek

Plush seats: Leather seats are comfortable, even for long drives.

Good MPG: 32 city, 28 highway is excellent for an SUV

Understated: It doesn't scream "hybrid," with only subtle badging.

The bottom line: Does the hybrid's better MPG justify its increased cost, especially compared with the price of its gas-powered counterpart? The difference between the 350 and 450h (FWDs) is almost $7,000. That buys a lot of gas.









     
       
Comments
House approves government spending bill

House approves government spending bill

A divided House on Thursday passed an 11-hour plan to keep the government running. But the GOP-written measure faced gloomy prospects in the Senate, and it remained unclear whether lawmakers would be able to find a way to keep federal offices open pa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Consumer agency to spend rainy day funds

NEW YORK — The Trump-appointed acting director of the federal government’s consumer watchdog agency requested zero dollars of funding for its second-quarter budget, saying he intends to first spend down the agency’s rainy day fund. In a letter to the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

To no one’s surprise, Amazon on Thursday released its list of location finalists for its second headquarters, and neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg was on it."We knew it was going to be a long shot and a difficult road," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said....
Updated: 10 hours ago

Deal clears way for Oldsmar townhomes

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 4-1 last month in favor of approving a development agreement for a 50-unit townhome community on a nearly 4-acre parcel on St. Petersburg Drive. According to the terms of the agreement, Oldsmar Towns LLC will build a ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

If there’s one word to describe the buyers of Tampa Bay’s 25 priciest homes in 2017 it’s this: eclectic. As in previous years, the group included doctors, lawyers and professional sports figures — three of the homes were purc...
Published: 01/18/18
Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

When Vision ACE Hardware opened in Oldsmar last November, the very first customer came in looking for a light bulb that he couldn’t find anywhere else."We had that lightbulb," said Stone Ackroyd, marketing manager. "That’s what ACE does. We have thos...
Published: 01/18/18
Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

LUTZ — Mellow Mushroom opened the doors to its new location this week in Wesley Chapel.This is the third location for owner Rob Johnson, who opened the Mellow Mushroom in Brandon 12 years ago, and then expanded to Clearwater.Johnson began looking at ...
Published: 01/18/18
Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Tampa native Julie Harris worked for the City of Tampa for 22 years, under four mayoral administrations, until retiring as director of communications and neighborhood liaison in 2003.Her familiarity with Southeast Seminole Heights and countless conta...
Published: 01/18/18
Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

HYDE PARK—Featuring popular Spanish cuisine, Bulla Gastrobar compliments Soho and Hyde Park’s vibrant restaurant scene offering an authentic Madrid-inspired tapas dining experience to be shared among friends for brunch, lunch and dinner. "Tampa is gr...
Published: 01/18/18