Lexus RX (2003-2009) review
The RX is a huge worldwide sales hit for Lexus.
One of the first luxury 'SUVs', with styling dictated more by fashion that any pretensions to off-road ability, the RX is a huge worldwide sales hit for Lexus. The edgy and distinctive look of this second-generation RX model give it head-turning appeal to better the BMW X5 class leader, while inside it's nicely detailed and extremely well-built. All materials have a soft, quality feel, and there are few rivals that can beat it for luxury. Like many modern 4x4s, it lacks the grab handles and transfer levers you'll find in proper off-roaders. There's loads of space, clever cubbies and luggage separators in the boot making the RX a practical vehicle - but where it really excels is refinement. There's virtually no road or wind noise, the engine only announcing its presence with a muted roar when you ask it to deliver all its power.
The entry-level petrol engine is now a 272bhp 3.5-litre V6. This is an excellent engine that's very powerful, refined and mated to a responsive, smooth automatic gearbox as standard. And while Lexus may not have a diesel alternative, it does instead offer an innovative hybrid version that combines electric power with a conventional engine. Capable of impressive economy figures, it's also an excellent performer, with levels of acceleration that defy it's 'world saving' tag. But generally, with both models there's plenty to keep you comfortable and entertained. All come with multi-zone air conditioning and excellent CD audio systems, while the range-topping SE-L adds a reversing camera and powered tailgate to impress on the school run. You're not short of equipment on the lesser models either, all coming comprehensively specified. Safety equipment is a particular priority - there's even an airbag for the driver's knees. A desirable alternative to the competition, particularly if you want the novelty of driving one of the world's first hybrid power SUVs. And don't forget, the RX400h is exempt from the London Congestion Charge!