2017 Lexus RX 450h hybrid gas mileage review

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The Lexus RX pretty much invented the luxury mid-size SUV category, and it remains a substantial part of the brand's sales in the U.S. 20 years later.

It was also the brand's first hybrid crossover, sharing underpinnings with its larger and less-pricey Toyota Highlander Hybrid sibling.

The RX was recently redesigned, and we've now had a chance to test it over a long weekend of mixed use.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Lexus RX Hybrid F Sport First Drive

We covered 325 miles along our usual test cycle, comprised of about two-thirds highway miles and one-third city and suburban lower-speed traffic.

The 2017 RX hybrid is rated at 31 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, for a combined EPA rating of 30 mpg. That's high for such a heavy, luxurious crossover utility vehicle.

Our test car returned an indicated 27.6 mpg on the dash display, within the 10-percent margin we usually expect from hybrids.

2017 Lexus RX 350

2017 Lexus RX 350

We'd have expected that number to be a little higher with fewer highway miles, since the hybrid can take more advantage of its ability to run electric at lower speeds in city driving.

For the record, the weather during our test blended the usual Northeastern February temperatures in the 30s with days that rose above 60 degrees F. (Climate change, anyone?)

READ THIS: 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: Gas Mileage Review (Jun 2014)

The results we achieved in our 2017 Lexus RX were further off the mark than a 375-mile test of the Highlander Hybrid done back in June 2014.

In that vehicle, rated by the EPA at 28 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 28 mpg highway), we returned 27.0 mpg on the display.

2017 Lexus RX 350

2017 Lexus RX 350

In the preceding generation of Lexus RX hybrid, meanwhile, we got an overall indicated figure of 26.8 miles per gallon over a 750-mile test prompted by a reader complaint that the large hybrid SUVs didn't meet their EPA ratings.

That was roughly 10 percent lower than the EPA combined rating of 29 mpg (30 mpg city, 28 mpg highway).

CHECK OUT: 2013 Lexus RX 450h: 750-Mile Gas Mileage Test (Jul 2012)

Overall, we conclude that if they're driven in a low-drama way, the Toyota and Lexus hybrid mid-size crossovers can approach their EPA ratings.

To meet or beat them, though, you likely have to focus on maximizing the electric-only capabilities of the hybrid system and spend a lot of time in lower-speed traffic.

2017 Lexus RX 450h, Catskill Mountains, NY, Feb 2017

2017 Lexus RX 450h, Catskill Mountains, NY, Feb 2017

Other random notes from our four days with the 2017 RX 450h:

  • We still think it looks like an angry vacuum cleaner that wants to eat your children
  • The interior of our top-of-the-line test car felt comfortable and relatively premium, with pale grey and black two-tone upholstery and visible stitching
  • The horizontal touchscreen in the center of the dash was large and crisp, but Toyota still doesn't offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay
  • Instead, you get the Toyota Entune system, which we found non-intuitive, and in some cases downright annoying
  • On the road, with careful modulation of the accelerator, it was possible to stay in electric mode more than we remember from earlier RX hybrids
  • It still won't accelerate speedily away from a stop electrically—you'll take more time than the drivers behind you may like to do that—but it's more available than we recalled

READ THIS: 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: brief drive of updated three-row SUV

Our test car, an "Ultra White" 2017 Lexus RX 450h, carried a base price of $58,495. It was fitted with four options, by far the most expensive of which were the triple-beam LED headlamps, at $1,615.

The panoramic rear-view monitor (very useful for this large vehicle) was $800, the navigation system and 12.3-inch display screen was only $430; and a touch-free power liftgate was $200.

Adding a mandatory delivery charge of $975, the bottom line on the window sticker was $60,515.

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