While other manufacturers and industry pundits debated the pros and cons of hybrid vehicles, Lexus got on with building and selling them. It has now reached the stage where hybrid technology is inextricably associated with the Lexus brand and the company is well down the road of developing and refining its petrol/electric drive system while rivals nervously pace the water's edge wondering whether to take the plunge. We've now seen BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Porsche take tentative steps, so perhaps Lexus has every right to feel a little smug.
It is, after all, two and a half generations of car along that particular road. The RX 400h, which first arrived back in 2005, was the precursor and sold well to buyers who didn't want a diesel but valued decent economy and, at the time, free entry into London's congestion charge zone. By 2009, that loophole had closed but the RX 400h's successor, the RX 450h we look at here, had a number of other attractions. It was a good deal more powerful, more economical and better equipped. The range was bolstered in 2011 with the addition of a mildly rugged-ised SE-I Lifestyle edition that targeted winter sports and country types. In summer 2012, the RX 450h received an extensive update, with the revised Lexus spindle grille grafted onto the front end, uprated trim levels and the addition of a ritzy F Sport flagship.