Hybrid SUV Pioneer Plugs In: The Lexus RX450h+
Lexus was one of the first luxury brands to offer hybrid technology. In fact, the first hybrid Lexus, the RX400h SUV, was introduced over 20 years ago, and has been a popular seller ever since. Now, the latest-generation RX, introduced in 2022, offers a choice of three drivetrains: conventional gasoline, hybrid, and a brand-new plug-in hybrid version. The 2024 Lexus RX450h+ (the plus is for plug-in) adopts the new RX models’ all-new design, luxurious interior, and intuitive tech, while layering on proven plug-in hybrid technology.
On the outside, the new RX450h+ builds on the cleaner, smoother design of the latest-generation RX. The front “spindle” grille is less aggressive, and much more seamless than before, providing a strong presence. The standard wheels have grown to 21 inches, with 20 spokes in a dark metallic finish, and at the rear, there’s a single tail lamp that wraps around the body to emphasize the lower, sleeker look.
Lexus RX450h+: Electric Range and Charging
Instead of the six-cylinder engine that lives under the hood of the gasoline RX, the RX450h+ features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which it shares with the smaller NX crossover. It the smaller engine with a high-capacity lithium-ion battery and powerful electric motors to deliver an EPA-estimated 83 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) along with an estimated 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds. The EPA also estimates the electric-only range of the RX450h+ at an impressive 35 miles – enough for many Americans to complete their daily commutes without having to use any gasoline.
Of course, plug-in hybrids only deliver such impressive electric range and efficiency if they are plugged in regularly to take advantage of their electric motors. The 2024 RX450h+ can be charged at home using a Level 1 or Level 2 charger. A Level 1 charging cable for 120-volt outlets come standard with the RX450h+, and its plug-in socket works with the standard CCS-type plug found on most home and public Level 2 chargers. A high-output, high-efficiency system is claimed to reduce power loss when converting power from AC to DC, resulting in faster charging times. In fact, on a Level 2 charger, Lexus claims the RX450h+ can be fully charged in just two and a half hours.
RX450h+ Driving Experience
As befits its luxury SUV status, the RX450h+ has standard full-time all-wheel drive, and the electric motors should give the system impressive response times as well as a confident, secure driving experience. The system can optimize the distribution of power front to rear automatically according to the driving conditions, with the driver able to exert manual control to account for different road conditions and driving styles.
A number of technologies should enhance the experience of the RX450h+ from behind the wheel, as well:
- Drive Connect monitors surrounding traffic in low-speed driving situations and on limited-access roads to automatically move forward and brake in traffic, keeping a set following distance to the vehicle in front. The system even provides hands-free steering assistance and can bring the vehicle to a complete stop and accelerate again when the path forward is clear.
- Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclist, or motorcycles and provides visual and audible warnings – and then will automatically brake to prevent an accident.
- Proactive driving assist provides gentle braking into curves and can even assist with steering.
- Road sign assist uses a camera to detect speed limit, stop, do not enter, yield, and other signs, displaying an icon on the instrument cluster to keep drivers informed
- Lane departure alert detects lane markings and road boundaries at speeds above 30 mph, and can provide an audible or visual warning if the RX450h+ departs the lane; it can even gently steer back into the lane automatically.
- When the dynamic radar cruise control is enabled and lane markers are detected, lane tracing assist helps keep the RX450h+ centered in its lane during long drives.
RX450h+ Luxury and Tech Features
Inside, the midsize Lexus plug-in SUV offers all of the luxury features you’d expect in an expansive, beautifully-designed cabin. Perforated, semi-aniline leather trim is standard, along with heated and ventilated power front seats, adjustable ambient lighting, a heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, panoramic glass roof, and more. A spectacular 21-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system is an option. The front and rear seats are superbly comfortable, and passengers in the rear have easy access to USB-C charging ports and even a 120-volt AC outlet.
A brand-new interface features on the 14-inch central touchscreen to unify all of the tech in the RX450h+. Much easier to use than previous Lexus systems, the glass screen has a physical volume knob and provides access to a multitude of functions:
- Cloud-based navigation system with Google points of interest data for faster and more up-to-date search results and directions based on traffic conditions
- Intelligent assistant that responds to “hey Lexus” voice commands to operate navigation, multimedia, climate control, and other features
- Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability
- Available advanced and remote parking system that uses 12 sensors to offer the convenience of parking the vehicle with your smartphone
Many features are tied into a Lexus Remote Connect subscription (Included in the purchase price and available for the first three years) that also allows drivers to use their smartphone as a key, as well as remotely start the engine, adjust the climate control, book service, check the vehicle health, and more.
The 2024 Lexus RX450h+ will be available at the end of 2023, with a starting MSRP of $70,080.