Lexus 450hL review: Ensconced in absolute silence

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We underestimate silence as an important facet of luxury and few carmakers get it right. One of them is Lexus. The new RXhL, which we have exclusively driven, aces that simple analogy which many luxury carmakers get wrong. Here I was reveling in the spooky silence and blissfully unaware of what was the power source driving the car. You see, the RX 450hL is a hybrid and draws power from two sources.

At low speeds, the electric motor comes in and it is basically an EV with zero emissions. However, a simple stab at the throttle pedal is enough to wake up the V6 petrol powertrain and get it to work. It’s all so seamless that you’re never aware of when the baton is passed onto the petrol engine. The 3.5-liter V6 powertrain is velvet smooth while being effortless in its acceleration. A 0-100 km/h time of 8 seconds further provides evidence as to how quickly the RX makes progress. The hybrid system is also cleaner to the environment while not letting you be at the mercy of a charging station with the petrol engine lending a hand when needed.

While electric is often termed as the future, for the present, something like the RX simply works.

 It also helps with the fact that this SUV has a somewhat relaxed demeanour. The new RX also gains a sharper stance but in reality, it is a pure luxury car in SUV clothing. It does have an imposing stance thanks to the slim LED lamps (no less than 18 LEDs surround the headlights) and that massive spindle grille while the surfacing is quite smooth for a gigantic SUV. Despite its girth, the blacked-out C-pillar adds in a sleek stance and that removes the notion of size from the RX.

More of a Zen like atmosphere is achieved via its calm interior. The design is restrained for sure but the quality of materials along with the lay-out is easy on the eye and akin to providing “omotenashi” (hospitality)- the core DNA of Lexus. The wood trim and the design are pleasing to the eye but new to the RX here is a massive 12.3-inch touchscreen along with all of the usual luxury trappings. Compared to the previous generation model, the new RX gets the ‘L’ moniker and that denotes the longer wheelbase along with three-row seating. The lower seating floor makes egress and ingress easier along with a recline/seat adjust option. We found the rear seat accommodating enough with plenty of comfort while even the third-row is useable for short journeys.

As we continued our drive, the heads-up display was the only source of evidence of the speed we were doing as the RX 450hL calmy travels through the chaos outside with a sense of nonchalant ease similar to a luxury sedan. In that sense the new RX 450hL is spa on wheels and dripping with the distinct style of luxury which is very Japanese. It is all about refinement, comfort and yes, silence. For a luxury car, these traits are somewhat mandatory and that’s where the new RX makes a lot of sense. In other words, the RX 450hL stands out amongst its German peers and that’s why we like it.

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