An SUV with more of an eye on shaving emissions than tenths off the school-run time, the RX 450h still manages to reach 62mph in a credible 7.7 seconds, on the way to a 124mph maximum speed. To achieve that it’ll be draining its battery faster than the loser on the Duracell bunny adverts using both its electric motors and the engine in unison.
The back axle gets its drive from an electric motor, while another electric motor and 3.5-litre V6 drive the front wheels through a planetary gearset that mixes petrol and electric power. The general feel is similar to that of a continuously-variable transmission.
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That CVT is likely to limit your desire to do repeated runs against the clock, as it launches the V6 to its peak power revs and holds it there to get the most of its performance. There’s the option to artificially step the transmission with a sequential shift mode, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever feel the need to. Think of the RX 450h as transport then, as opposed to something you’ll want to drive quickly. It’s more suited to lounging, if only its suspension wasn’t so busy.
Keep the pace more sedate and it's hushed, the EV-only mode working at town speeds and for up to a mile. You’ll be doing well to get near that distance though, as it operates more like a stop-start system with added boost to the engine rather than more recent plug-in hybrid vehicles with their more useful electric-only ranges.
The RX 200t is the new addition with this generation of RX, but its performance isn't headline-grabbing: it takes 9.2 seconds to reach 60mph, and that's on paper - in the real world, it feels more lethargic and does little to coerce you into exploring all of its potential. In automatic mode it tends to hang onto gears too long, wheezing its way to the limiter instead of riding the unit's torque - you're better-off changing gears manually. The V6 of the hybrid is a much nicer powerplant to use.