Test Drive Lexus RX450h: Herbivorous predator

Considering the fact that the RX crossover is the best-selling model of the Lexus brand, the boldness of designers and marketers, who shaped the appearance of the fourth generation of the cross-over, is worthy of respect. Without restraining the flight of his imagination, they have broken the body based on the previous platform beyond recognition. From the former harmless appearance, chosen by housewives, there is no trace – now the eyes of the LEDs on us looks the most real predator from the Hollywood blockbuster of the same name.

And if it had not been presented a year earlier model NX , already had time to become more or less familiar, then the appearance of the new RX would cause much more controversy. And so we see already familiar face, with the only difference that the “lightning” of the navigation lights took a more traditional place, moving from the bumper to the block headlights. The feed of the novelty can serve as an excuse for a new portion of criticism. For example, not everyone will appreciate the intricate windows that mask the rear pillars. Or the big tail lights, the unpretentious form of which is somewhat discordant with the overall futuristic design of the exterior. But how elegantly and effectively look “running” lights turn signals! Although the idea itself is no longer new – such a solution we saw earlier on Audi models. Whatever it was, the crossover enjoys increased attention from others, which was confirmed by the curiosity of the inspector of the traffic police, who for no reason stopped me in the center of the city.

The wheelbase of the new RX has increased by 5 cm, and the length has grown by as much as 12 cm, however, the main increase occurred in the front overhang, which could not but affect the geometry of the body and the patency of the car. Moreover, the lower contour of the front bumper practically does not have a bevel, which is characteristic for the previous generations of the model, and it should be remembered, parked in front of the high curbs. Even though the technical specifications promise a 2 cm increase in ride height (up to 20 cm).

The interior architecture also has nothing to do with past generations. Now over the console rises a huge 12.3-inch display (in the initial complete sets of 8-inch). The console itself acquired more traditional shapes and acquired graceful watches, and the selector lever of the automatic transmission system finally moved to its rightful place on the tunnel. Unlike the exterior, the interior does not exude a drop of aggression, on the contrary – it literally envelops comfort and comfort, especially in the white-brown color scheme. Quality finishes and materials at the height: soft leather seats, soft plastic with decorative stitching, natural wood inserts on the steering wheel and central tunnel, elegant aluminum “twists” of the Mark Levinson audio system … Of course, the completely rigid plastic has not disappeared – it is still present as In the lower part, and as some decor elements – but a big step forward in comparison with the previous RX is obvious. The soft contour highlighting of the salon, which comes to life in the dark, completes the picture. Everything is “adult”.

What has passed by inheritance, is the addictive joystick Remote Touch, through which you manage the multimedia system and some settings. But, we must pay tribute to the fact that the Japanese did not follow the path of total implementation of sensors and computer control – only the management of multimedia functionality and minor settings are displayed on the display with an intricate menu, while the main functions are controlled by separate analog buttons.

In the rest to ergonomics and convenience of landing at the wheel it is difficult to carp. And the hospitable rear row is almost more comfortable than the front seats. The sofa, as before, can be regulated in parts in two directions, under the feet absolutely flat floor, and thanks to the wheelbase grown up, there is an increase in space to the front backs, which was already plenty. The top equipment provides additional conveniences in the form of seat heating, retractable window blinds on windows and electrified adjustment of the backrest angle. For complete happiness, only its climate control is not enough.

The engine range of the new “Er Iksa” also underwent modernization: the initial 2.7-liter “atmospheric” gave way to a new turbo engine , debuting on the NX model, the 3.5-liter V6 was 23 liters. from. More powerful, having received direct injection, and the declared power of the most “heaped”, hybrid, modification (450h) is now 313 liters. With., Instead of the former pleasant for the tax bearer 249 hp. from. It was with the last version in the Exclusive package that my acquaintance took place.

With the exception of the above-mentioned technical changes in the six-cylinder engine, the basically hybrid installation remained the same. Briefly, it consists of the internal combustion engine itself, the electric motor and the generator, interconnected by means of a planetary gear, which acts as a stepless transmission. And, of course, an integral part of the installation is a nickel-metal hydride high-voltage battery located under the rear seat.

The rear wheels rotate a separate 50-kilowatt electric motor, and, remarkably, they do not have a mechanical connection with the front axle. The auxiliary motor comes into operation by an electronic command only under certain driving conditions. Thus, to call the RX 450h all-wheel drive can only be conditional, and, of course, there is no question of any distribution of the moment between the axes.

Off-road capabilities of the hybrid Lexus happened to experience one fine morning, when after an abundant nighttime snowfall it was necessary to storm the snowbank formed around the parking lot. Easy and at ease, as befits a true all-wheel drive, it was not possible to leave the snow captivity. When adding engine rpm, the front wheels break into the slip, suppressed by the electronics, and the rear ones stand still – the traction characteristics of the electric motor are not equal to those of the petrol V6. As a result, it was possible to get out only with the help of swinging “back and forth”.

Another interesting design feature of the hybrid drive is that the reverse motion is carried out exclusively on electric traction. Even if the gasoline engine at this moment will work, it will not give any effort to the wheels, spending power only on the rotation of the generator, which in turn helps the traction battery to feed the electric motors.

The forward movement also begins on one electricity (in the case of an already warmed-up internal combustion engine), if the battery is sufficiently charged, and intensive acceleration is currently not required. Trips around the city often turn into an entertaining game “do not wake a bear”, which requires extremely accurate handling of the accelerator pedal in order to drive as much as possible on one electric traction. It is necessary to press a little more strongly on it, as in the work the main motor will instantly turn on. He does it very gently and imperceptibly. Another condition of “free ride” – the speed of movement is not more than 60-70 km / h. After overcoming this mark, the gasoline engine starts to work constantly. When braking, energy is recuperated – the traction motors start working as generators, charging the battery. Behind all these processes that take place in the depths of the hybrid transmission, you can see on the colorful picture of the central display, where the arrows clearly show the distribution of energy flows. Very entertaining show.

With the special button, you can activate the EV mode (Electric Vehicle) for driving only on electric traction. My personal mileage record for such a run on a fully charged battery was 4.3 km with a uniform ride through the empty Third Transport Ring. Theoretically, you can drive more, but the control electronics does not allow to discharge the battery “to zero” – the gasoline engine is switched on when the charge level drops to about 25%. In “non-heating” conditions, involving acceleration and braking, the “trolleybus” mode suffices for a couple of kilometers.

In the usual urban traffic, which is an ideal habitat for the hybrid, it is quite realistic to keep the average gasoline consumption at 7-8 l / 100 km with impressive driving. I remember that last generation RX 350 was almost twice as gluttonous in the city! On the road, the hybrid system makes practically no contribution to fuel economy. If you go within the SDA, the flow will be 8-8.5 l / 100 km, which, you will agree, is also very good for a large gasoline crossover with quite convincing dynamic characteristics.

Under the juicy roar of the V-shaped “six”, accompanied by two electric motors, the first “hundred” RX 450h exchanges for 7.7 seconds. But even more impressive is how easy and easy it is to further speed dial. The thrust reserve allows you to make confident overtaking in any speed range, and the planetary transmission levels the acceleration delays when the accelerator is pressed down, while the classic “automatic” would take time to drop down one or three gears. A washer on the central tonnel can choose one of four modes of operation of the power unit – from the “wadded” ECO to the “combat” SPORT S +, in which the car flawlessly follows the gas pedal.

But with the dosing of the braking force, things are not so smooth, especially when the slowing down of the average intensity is required: the pedal is too sensitive in the second half of the stroke. Although there are no complaints about the effectiveness of the braking mechanisms themselves.

And how cool this crossover writes turns! The Japanese optimized the suspension settings, in addition, now the maximum configurations (F Sport and Exclusive) include shock absorbers with adaptive adjustment of rigidity (the AVS system) . RX reliably stands on the arc, moderately heaving and transferring to the steering wheel quite distinct effort. In the limit, smooth sliding outwards begins with all four wheels, and under the discharge of gas RX slightly throws the stern, screwing into the turn. After a moment, ESP interferes with the process, “catching” the trajectory and not allowing the skid to develop. Class! Extremely clear and predictable behavior. However, with the active rearrangement of the steering wheel, the amplitude of the swinging of the body becomes very noticeable, and the rear axle, with a sharp change in direction of motion, strives to go to the dance – the inertia of the 2.2 tonne machine in combination with a high center of gravity makes itself felt. And the lateral support of the seats is rather weak.

Still, the philosophy of the Lexus RX is based on the highest level of comfort. Moderately elastic suspension perfectly “swallows” all the bumps and pits, as much as possible smoothing even the sharpest irregularities. The smoothness of the stroke is so high that when driving along the road there is a feeling that you are floating above the road on an air cushion. And this is on wheels of dimension 235/55 R20. And excellent noise insulation leaves all worldly vanity and noise of road on the other side of double glasses. Even at speeds of 150 km / h in the cabin is so quiet that you can talk with passengers without raising your voice at all.

Thus, the new RX not only retained the main values ​​of the past generations of the model, remaining a very comfortable and balanced car, but also added to the driving disciplines, convenience and quality of the interior. Therefore, there is no doubt that the novelty will continue the success of its predecessors. Moreover, the price tag of the model is still lower than that of competitors , and fixed sets are traditionally rich. Even the basic version for 2.7 million rubles the language will not turn to reproach inferiority. There is only one question: why for cars Lexus, and for the new RX in particular, there is still no automatic parking system?

Dmitry Shamonin