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Lexus has reduced the emissions and yet increased the economy and power of the RX's V6, but the hybrid is still the more convincing proposition.

Our Verdict

Lexus RX 2009-2015

The Lexus RX has headline-grabbing emissions, but do they stand up to scrutiny?

  • First Drive

    Lexus RX 450h F Sport

    Lexus’s F Sport specification takes on BMW’s M Sport and Audi’s S-line, with only partial success
  • First Drive

    Lexus RX 450h

    European test route confirms latest 450h is a major step forward
25 April 2006

What's new? Right now Lexus is at the forefront of the hybrid revolution – next year there’ll be a flagship LS600h, we’ve just sampled the sporting GS450h and Lexus’s first hybrid, the RX400h, is selling well.And so it should: putting hybrid technology in the RX boosted performance, cut emissions and delivered an elegant answer to the anti-SUV brigade. Unfortunately for Lexus, the RX400h has also rather overshadowed the more conventional RX300, which is slower and thirstier, if £5000 cheaper. Last month, the 400h outsold the 300 almost two-to-one.To put the regular model back in the spotlight, Lexus has given it an enlarged 3.5-litre V6, bringing an extra 71bhp and 44lbft and cutting the 0-60mph time by over a second to 7.8sec. Crucially, and despite its larger capacity, the new engine is more efficient: the combined cycle improves to 25.2mpg and emissions fall.What's it like? On the road, the new engine is not only more sprightly but more relaxed. Driven on three-quarters throttle it remains unobtrusive, but extended beyond this the note becomes less sonorous. The five-speed automatic ’box has reprogrammed shift patterns for a quicker and smoother response; undoubtedly an improvement, but not as quick or seamless as the best.The RX350 also gets other amendments, including a sound deadening windscreen and new satellite navigation. Lexus claims to have retuned the steering for improved feel, but it remains artificially light, indirect and now the car’s most obvious weakness.Should I buy one? With a price rise of £1250 over the RX300, an RX350 will cost a higher rate tax-payer around £1400 per annum more in tax than the RX400h. If you’re set on an RX, hybrid is still the way to go.Jamie Corstorphine

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