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Lexus RX500H F Sport

This luxurious SUV is ahead of the game in the hybrid stakes, offering plenty of power alongside its eco-friendly credentials, writes Ed Coles

Lexus RX500H F Sport

RX500H F Sport

Overall Rating: 80%

Manufacturer: Lexus

Pros: Good family vehicle, capable off-piste

Price as reviewed: £77,195

Cons: Comes with a very high-end price tag

Lexus has been producing high-end SUVs for a while. Being Toyota’s luxury department, Lexus has also been slightly ahead of the game on the hybrid front. The first hybrid RX hit the road in 2005; the latest version is the fifth generation and it’s got a few sporty tricks up its sleeve. It’s available in three specs, RX350H, RX450H+ and RX500H, and we’re playing with the top-of-the-range version.

In all honesty, I hadn’t fully checked what flavour of Lexus SUV was being delivered, but as the sleek, azure blue RX pulled down the driveway, my appetite soon appeared. Looks-wise, the RX certainly means business with its 21in matte black wheels and striking front end with F Sport signature grille and tuned bumpers. Matching black mirrors and roof bars contrast well against the paintwork. Lexus has done a good job of beefing up the silhouette of the RX without losing the executive look. Some futuristic angles have been worked in but they complement the retina-melting LED lights.

Lexus RX500H F Sport

Under the bonnet, there’s a 2.4-litre petrol turbo engine as well as a front electric motor

Eco meets petrolhead

Opening the bonnet, you’re greeted by a combination best described as “eco meets petrolhead”. There is a 2.4-litre petrol turbo providing traction to the front wheels and charging the battery. The old faithful petrol motor stables 268 tiny horses, producing 460Nm of torque. Attached to that, with a separate clutch, is an electric motor that powers the front wheels when needed. This is capable of 86bhp and 292Nm of torque.

Lexus RX500H F Sport

The 183mm of ground clearance isn’t bad for a sporty-style SUV

At the back, there is a second motor driving the rear wheels. The rear motor produces 102bhp and 192Nm of torque. Combined, the Lexus pumps out 366bhp with 550Nm of torque. With a top speed of 130mph, 0–62mph in 6.2 seconds and a towing weight up to two tonnes, on paper the RX lives up to its name. The RX has also done away with the CVT gearbox and replaced it with a proper six-speed automatic gearbox and Lexus’s Direct4 all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Pulling out the trusty feed bag out and peeking underneath, there is an encouraging 183mm of ground clearance, which isn’t bad for the sportier end of the SUV world. There’s not much to see but there are a few glimpses of the adaptive variable suspension and dynamic rear steering set-up. At the back, you can see a bit of the electric AWD witchcraft — or E-Axle as Lexus call it — and the regenerative brakes look suitably beefed up.


There’s a decent amount of boot space, with plenty of room for dogs and shooting kit

Opening the boot, there is a decent amount of space. The book says 461 litres of space up to the parcel shelf, or a good dozen bags of wheat to use the standard measurement. There’s more than enough room for dogs and kit — the rifle fits flat on a slight angle with room to spare.

car dashboard

The interior has all the usual gadgets you’d expect, with an easy-to-use 14in touchscreen

Inside it’s as you would expect from a high-end SUV; modern, understated style with just the right amount of gadgets on display. The leather and suede-like sports seats are comfortable and supportive, and along with the sports pedals and steering wheel they’re a nice contrast to the minimalist executive dash.

Futuristic touch

All the usual entertainment, connectivity and driver’s aids are present, far too many for my word count. The 14in touchscreen operates all the goodies and it’s pretty user-friendly. The interior door handles did take a bit of working out, but they are a nice futuristic touch.

Once comfy in my plush surroundings, with the seat at its highest setting, the first traditional test is reversing out of my cratered driveway. Despite being more sporty, the suspension handles the lunar surface smoothly. Selecting sport mode, the dual carriageway seems like an appropriate second test. With a heavy right foot, the RX makes the most of its Direct4 set up and catapults us up the hill, continuously pulling. The drive is smooth but exhilarating and we’re soon rattling through the six-speed auto.

It’s comfortable and quiet inside, and turning off on to the back road, the handling is equally as comfortable. It feels sharp through the turns and it’s only when passing other vehicles you remember you’re in a large SUV. I’m not sure you feel the rear wheel steering working but the RX does feel precise. Through town, in eco mode, the lion is tamed but it still feels sort of sporty. That said, it’s easy to drive for the school run or shopping. But enough of that. There’s a button with trees and ruts and I’m dying to push it.

With said button pushed, we head up to the wood via the old dirt track. Traction is good but I’m slightly gentle so we don’t kick up too many stones. Feeling brave, I stop and see how the Direct4 copes with gravel; the answer is well with a mild bit of spin. Changing from gravel to grass, traction remains good and the RX stays relatively stable, straddling the ruts with a mild bit of breath-holding from me. Edging through the wood, the tall nettles set various warnings and sounds off, but despite the distractions the Lexus handles the twisty track well. It handles the lumps and bumps easily for a sporty SUV and the suspension doesn’t feel overly hard.

Exiting the wood is more tricky staying on top of the ruts, and inevitably the RX slips either side. With a mild bit of twitching and spinning we head off back down the gravel track. Not a bad effort, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough for the more challenging bits of Edwardshire.

Lexus RX500H F SportConclusion

The RX500H F Sport definitely ticks a few boxes. It’s a capable family vehicle and pretty eco-friendly too. It’s hair-raising when you want it to be and it’s reasonably capable off-piste if the need should arise. It’s definitely high-end and comes with a high-end price tag of £77,195 on the road. With 40 miles of electric range and 35mpg, we’re either making Greta Thunberg very happy or quite cross. However, for a luxury eco-friendly offering, Lexus has done a good job.

Need to know

  • Manufacturer Lexus
  • Model RX500H F Sport
  • Top speed 130mph
  • 0-62mph 6.2 seconds
  • Engine 268bhp, 460Nm of torque
  • Electric motor front 86bhp, 292Nm of torque
  • Electric motor rear 102bhp, 169Nm of torque
  • Power combined 366bhp, 550Nm of torque
  • Battery 240-cell 5ha nickel-metal hydride
  • Emissions CO2 182–189g/km
  • Economy combined 34–35.3mpg
  • Towing weight (braked) 2,000kg
  • Ground clearance 183mm