Back at the turn of the century, Lexus became one of the first premium brands to enter the luxury SUV segment, offering an RX model that quickly became even more unique in MK2 model guise when in 2005, it pioneered hybrid power in this sector. Buyers approved and over three generations, more than 2.2 million RXs found satisfied owners. Most of these sales though, were in the US market the car was primarily designed for. By the middle of the 21st century's second decade though, it needed to have wider appeal in Europe and this fourth generation version was tasked with delivering just that.
If ever a category of car cried out for a more efficient means of forward motion, it's the large luxury SUV. Traditionally for most buyers, such a vehicle has only been viable to own when equipped with a diesel engine - but even that attracts quite a bottom line running cost penalty. Hence the appeal of hybrid power, something you'd have thought would by 2015 have been quite commonplace in this segment. Not so. By then. belatedly, Volvo and the German premium brands had just started to offer this technology in their luxury SUVs, but only in pricey Plug-in form. The RX's hybrid engine, in contrast, is one of the non-plug-in 'self-charging' sort. If you can't stretch to a PHEV hybrid rival from this period and want a car in this class, then broadly, you've the choice of a noisy, potentially planet-polluting diesel. Or this RX.
So you can see then, why this Lexus sells quite well globally, a package that would have been even more successful - in Europe at least - had earlier versions been a touch more spacious and a little more dynamic to drive. The Japanese brand told us that this fourth generation model was both of these things, at the same time also offering extra technology, stronger standards of safety, even more luxury and much sharper styling. Its hybrid powertrain was revised over the previous model too, though not in the kind of fundamental way that could have incorporated Plug-in technology or more frugal diesel/electric power. Lexus doesn't like diesels, but initially, it wasn't averse to offering RX customers the option of a more conventional engine in this MK4 design, hence the early availability of a minority-interest petrol turbo RX 200t derivative to sell alongside the more significant RX 450h hybrid model. The RX 200t variant though, was quickly deleted. A longer wheelbase 7-seat RX L body shape was introduced in 2018. And the range was facelifted in late-2019. It's the pre-facelift MK4 models though, that we're going to look at here.