A couple of weekends ago, we took an hours drive up the motorway to leafy Cheshire. We had wanted to go away for the weekend to spend some time together (and avoid the housework) so we packed an overnight bag and headed off on an adventure. We also had a new toy to play with over the weekend as Lexus Birmingham part of Vantage Motor Group, had kindly given us the keys to one of their new SUV’s, the Lexus RX. With a tank full of petrol and our bags packed, we set off to explore and see what the Lexus RX could do.
The Lexus RX is without a doubt, a beast of a car. When we first saw it in the showroom, I was a little overwhelmed with how wide it was, I’m not used to driving such a big car but it felt dominant and powerful but reassuringly safe to sit inside.
We had borrowed the Lexus RX450h model which is a luxury automatic hybrid car with all the tech and glamour that you would expect in such a prestige car. Boasting a 3.6 litre engine and delivering seamless power to all four wheels, it certainly moved well much to our disapproval of the M6 roadworks and 40mph speed limits.
As with previous car reviews, I can’t get all Jeremy Clarkson-y and reel off the car specifications and expect you to believe I know what I’m talking about. However, as a Mummy with very precious cargo sitting in his carseat on the backseat, I can tell you how we found it as a family and what we loved about it.
Sitting up front in the drivers seat, you instantly feel higher above the road (that’ll be the 20″ alloy wheels) and I like how being seated higher helps you see more of the road. There’s so many different things to look at on the dashboard but one of the features that particularly stood out for me was the Extra-Wide Heads Up Display. This is such a clever feature where data is projected onto the windscreen and so only the driver can see it in front of them. The display featured the speed we were driving along at and also indicated the speed limit for the road which we found was such a useful feature. It also showed navigation commands and audio settings so there’s no need to take your eyes off the road.
On the dash included a large central multi-information display which I personally didn’t warm to. It was set too far back towards the windscreen for my liking and was a little awkward to navigate. Obviously a step up from the touch screen displays seen in newer cars these days, the multi-information display was operated via a mouse-type button housed on the central console of the car. It had all the modern tech, from checking the hybrid power system and breakthrough climate control to Bluetooth connectivity for mobile communications and music as well as a really useful satellite navigation system.
Features we loved in the Lexus RX
- Blind Spot Monitor – thanks to a radar device mounted in the rear bumper, cars that are in the drivers blind spot are instantly recognised and the driver is alerted via warning signals on the relevant door mirror. Such a handy feature to have in a family car.
- Advanced Lane Keeping Assist – using a camera in the front windscreen to monitor the cars position in a lane, it activates a warning should the driver begin to drift. Luckily we didn’t need to use this but did test it out on a quiet stretch of motorway.
- Intelligent Parking Sensors – these super clever sensors warn you when you’re near to other cars and objects and impressively can automatically slow the car down and warn you to brake.
- Adaptive Cruise Control – tested by Shilts on the motorway (in the roadworks) the adaptive cruise control maintains a set distance from the car in front and will recognise when that vehicle varies its speed and will adapt to maintain the distance between the two cars. Shilts found this easy to use and was impressed with it’s intelligence.
- Individual Reclining Back Seats – as a passenger in the back seat during one of our journey’s, I was impressed that I could recline my back seat as a solo chair and also move it forwards or backwards independently from the rest of the backseat. This is a clever feature for family’s with tall teenagers!
- Panoramic Roof – although this is an optional extra on the Lexus RX, the model we road-tested had a large panoramic roof which really did give passengers in the back a sense of space and light. It was also great for plane spotting at Manchester Airport.
- Reversing Camera – this is such a brilliant feature in a family car. I love being able to see the space behind the car on the screen in front. There’s also a camera at the front which again is useful when parking your car in an unfamiliar place.
It’s fair to say that the Lexus RX is a car packed full of features but ultimately has passenger safety in mind. Within the RX are ten airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners. In the event of a collision, airbags along the full length of the side windows are activated as well as driver/passenger airbags and side airbags. There’s also cushion airbags for passenger knees which is something I’ve not come across before and thankfully something we didn’t have to test out.
What Shilts thought about the Lexus RX
The Lexus was a lot of fun to drive. I can honestly say it is the largest car that I have ever driven, and certainly had the luxury feel to go with its size. However, it’s handling defied any preconceptions that I may have had about the car. It’s power away from traffic lights and junctions was very pleasing, and the engine size meant that when you did need an extra little bit of acceleration, you weren’t in short supply. Probably the most impressive features however were in the technology and safety aspects. As a family driver, the safety of my passengers is the utmost importance to me, and the Lexus not only felt powerful, it also felt very safe. I loved testing out some of these features, and one of the first things that stuck out was the ‘heads up’ display of the speedometer and satellite navigation, which was projected onto the windscreen for the driver’s eyes only.
I also found the cruise control very easy to operate, and the ability of the on board computer to give a visual representation of the signs on the road whenever the speed limit altered was extremely useful to ensure safe driving. The cruise radar was a fabulous feature, and whilst sitting in traffic that was fairly slow moving through roadworks on the M6, the radar was able to automatically adjust our cruising speed to ensure we remained a safe distance behind the vehicle in front, and then smoothly returned us to our desired cruise setting once it was safe to do so.
Another feature which really appealed was something that I discussed with the manager at Vantage Lexus; it is the range of features that you can’t see that makes the car feel safe. I was impressed to learn that the suspension tightens and the car almost prepares itself in case of an impact, so that if the worst does happen, the effects are mitigated. I sampled the alert feature on the way to delivering the car back, and as traffic slowed rapidly in front of me, I was given an audible and visual alert to brake and the car automatically began braking for me. This is impressive, as you never can predict whether you have the correct reaction to an incident in front of you whilst motoring, and the fact that the Lexus is designed to keep you as safe as possible in this situation is a huge comfort to me.
Other items of technology that I enjoyed were the huge screen display that was mounted on the dashboard of the Lexus. This enabled us to operate both the sat-nav and the audio systems, and provided a very clear display, invaluable whilst we were exploring new areas. The lane departure warning worked very well, stiffening the steering and pulling the car back straight when it felt a deviation, and the overtaking safety warning lights on the wing mirrors were an excellent feature, enabling safe driving on the busy motorway network.
From a comfort point of view, the Lexus was an amazing piece of engineering. The small details made the car an amazingly comfortable ride, from the technology described above, through to the automatic seat adjustments, heated seats and mirrors, and even the wireless mobile charging station on the front console. Added together with the fact that as an automatic car, the car made driving extremely low impact, it is safe to say that I was sorry to have to hand the car back after a wonderful weekend’s motoring.
As a family car, the Lexus RX is practical and spacious. I had a brilliant time driving the car through Tatton Park and round the country lanes of rural Cheshire. It has plenty of room in the boot (with an automatic shutting system on the boot door – just press the button and it shuts itself, game changer I know!) and passengers in the backseat have plenty of room to sit back and enjoy the ride. Up front, as a passenger I felt comfortable and relaxed and as a driver, I felt in control and safe.
It is without doubt that the Lexus RX is a luxury car with an abundant smart technology and impressive features. It has a beautiful sleek design and is rather dominant on the road. Unfortunately, the Lexus RX is well out of our budget, (the Lexus RX 450h model retails at just shy of £53,000) if we had more disposable income, we would certainly keep the Lexus RX in mind as we definitely felt the part cruising through Alderley Edge on our way home and we liked it!
You can find out more about the Lexus RX and more detailed information about it’s specifications here.
Disclosure: With thanks to Lexus Birmingham for letting us borrow the Lexus RX for the weekend.