Yes, this section is dedicated to all you backyard wrenches with a hammer and stick trying to fix your 4x4 so you can go wheeling. Once upon a time your rig was a luxo-barge you couldn't afford. That's why we took a look at the super-cool Lexus RX450h hybrid. While the sticker on this gem is on the shy side of $45,000, you get a vehicle very capable for the moderate use it's intended for, along with a host of gee-whiz gadgetry that will someday become commonplace. You think that fuel injection started out in the cheapest cars? Nope, but it's the leader in induction systems nowadays. In the same respect, a hybrid wheeler with Heads Up Display (HUD) will someday be within your reach, and we may all be techno-geeked out on the trail.
The RX isn't intended as a mud-boggin', rockclimbing trailmaster, but it does haul you around in cozy comfort while saving fuel and being capable of bombing down dirt fireroads as well as ascending mountain roads to snowy ski chalets. It does this with an all-new fully independent suspension chassis, a revised 3.5L Atkinson cycle engine, and a host of new luxury and performance improvements.
The bottom line is the RX is indeed a more luxurious SUV with better fuel economy and performance, while coming in at the same base price as other SUVs of this ilk. Will you find one on the trail? Probably not. But eventually you will find the technology in all sorts of vehicles, and this ride has them now.
The RX is a front-wheel drive platform, and in the 4WD models, the electric motors drive the rear wheels. The RX is awash with new technology for better fuel economy (around 30 mpg) and ultimate creature comforts. We took the "off limits" dirt roads on a recent press reaveal, and the RX behaved beautifully while wrapping us in acushy comfort. Wine and cheese lovers will regale in the class and comfort of the hybrid RX, while doing the "responsible thing" for the environment. The technology of this new generation of vehicles will one day be available to all vehicles, so start saving your pennies and plan on hitting the used car circuit.