“Splitting the personality” of the hybrid Lexus RX: superpower or diagnosis?

A modern hybrid car can please not only ecologists, but also to please the driver. Strange, but true.

A modern hybrid car can please not only ecologists, but also to please the driver. Strange, but true. And Lexus RX so is able?

In psychiatry there is such a term – just do not get scared! dissociative identity disorder. This is when one person is an athlete in the morning, a little girl from kindergarten at dinner, in the evening a governess of a billionaire, and at night an African elephant in general. The next day – new images. Still speak “splitting of the person”. It would seem, and here the hybrid Lexus RX 450h? Yes, simply the behavior of the crossover answers perfectly the symptoms. It remains to understand, in the case of a car this is a serious disorder or superpower?

During the test I saw a lot of images in the “Lexus”, but to answer the question, it is enough to get acquainted with the two. One is a millionaire with modest requests, the second is a free artist. Or, if you like, a free bird. 

The modest millionaire

Still, the “green” crossover among others has one major role, the predominant one. And from the first minutes at the wheel it becomes clear. The arsenal of a series-parallel hybrid power plant, consisting of a gasoline V6, a generator, two electric motors (front and rear) and a “battery”, immediately switches the brain to “eco mode”. And you yourself involuntarily start to apply jewelry with accelerator and brake, and also listen, the engine works or not. Needless to say, the interest to spend on “one hundred” as little fuel as possible turned out to be so “sporty” that I was sometimes even ready to freeze in the cabin without a stove and heating, so as not to provoke the electronics once again to start the engine or spend the electricity of the battery. Moreover, the machine itself supports such initiatives and, after pressing the launch button, is not in a hurry to start a 3.5-liter “atmospheric”, which, incidentally, operates at the economical Atkinson cycle.

But soon after the start, the petrol unit with a capacity of 263 “horses” still wakes up to “play” along with the hybrid electrical stuffing. First, depending on driving conditions (for example, when starting from a place and sudden acceleration), the engine can be combined with the front electric motor and deliver up to 335 Nm to the front wheels. And secondly, the gasoline engine is also needed to recharge the battery: the torque can partially or completely go to the rotation of the motor generator, which charges the battery.

At the same time, it is still incorrect to call the Lexus front-wheel drive, since a second electric motor is built into the rear axle, albeit of low power. Mechanically it is connected only to the rear wheels, and its rotation frequency is synchronized by the electronics with the two front motors using sophisticated algorithms, which, believe me, it is better not to delve into it. It is sufficient that in operation the rear electric motor is mainly engaged in turns, helping to fight with insufficient rotatability or for effective acceleration. In other cases, the second electric motor converts the energy from the freely rotating wheels into a charge for the battery.

Confused? Relax: to use the full potential of the so-called “lean personality”, it is not necessary to be technically savvy. It is enough to observe only three rules: gently press the gas and brake pedals, try to go more down, plus from time to time (for example, in traffic jams) include EV mode, which allows you to travel a few kilometers only on electric traction. In my “vegetable” rhythm with all the charms of metropolitan traffic, the crossover spent an average of only 7.5 liters of gasoline per “hundred”. Very worthy, given the mass of two-odd tons and almost five-meter length.

The most interesting is that the more I enter the role of a potential buyer of RX 450h, the more clearly I understand its meaning. It’s not just the low fuel consumption and the level of harmful emissions. All the buzz is that you go on a large premium crossover with a V6 under the hood, which at least twice as often as other brethren need to arrange a date with a gas station. That’s cool! It seems that you can “attach” the pedal so that the flow takes off. But somehow I do not even want to … Just like a millionaire who prefers to live modestly.

Especially in calm mode of movement it is possible to enjoy plenty of silence in the cabin and comfortable settings of the spring suspension: the potholes of the metropolitan roads broken after winter are of course felt by the fifth point, but as though through a soft and elastic layer absorbing all unpleasant impulses.

However, sooner or later all this “green” tranquility bothers with its rules and restrictions, forcing to change the identity of the “Lexus” to a more relaxed …


Maybe you know such a state when you do not think about anything and live in pleasure? Well, or at least, you probably would like it. In a hybrid RX, this sense of will will be familiar. Do whatever you want! You can put the mode of motion in Sport – then the machine, like a person with a split personality, under similar conditions begins to behave absolutely differently. The left “eco-circle” on the instrument is replaced by a tachometer with a rich red illumination, the internal combustion engine no longer dies at any convenient moment, the variator tries to keep higher revs, and the gas pedal becomes more sensitive.

No, Lexus does not turn into a sports car, but the feeling that the car holds a “green” leash, definitely disappears. By itself, the dynamics of the 313-strong crossover (it is how many “horses” the power plant can give out overall) when “jumping” from a place or at a speed is objectively very vigorous. However, he does not give any special emotions: the seamless howl of the engine on one tonality now and again inclines to raise his foot from the gas pedal. In this case, the culprit – a smart variator – you do not need to swear. He works gently, and reacts to commands very quickly.

On the topic of controllability Lexus RX I will not rant: it rivals not worse than other large crossovers of the premium segment. At the same time, a comfortable low landing (for such a class) and a pleasant, dense effort on the steering wheel make it possible to quickly become friends with the car and understand its reactions to certain commands. The only omission is the lack of adaptive shock absorbers and active stabilizers, which are only available on the 450h F Sport version (not available in Russia). With this tricky extra “iron” clearly would not have to put up with the rolls in the turns and some impressiveness of the car with sudden changes in direction of movement.

Usually, when it comes to active driving mode, fuel consumption for logical reasons is bypassed. But in our case, “Lexus” has something to boast about: in the “relaxed” state the crossover spends only 10-11 liters per hundred. Honestly, having received such a result, I forgot about the “thrifty” nature of the crossover until the end of the test …

All this suggests that the plural identity for “Lexus” is certainly not a verdict or a medical diagnosis. After all, each individual alter ego has its merits, which make the hybrid crossover rather unique than strange.