Lexus RX hybrid SUV smooth operator

Engines – In general this RX was only ever a petrol range, with buyers offered large-capacity motors. The 'h' in RX400h stood for hybrid, with this particular car's rear wheels powered by an electric motor – the fronts remained the responsibility of the 3.3-litre petrol engine. In practice the system worked well, with the switch from one power source to another difficult to detect.

Exterior – One of the more streamlined premium sport utility vehicles (SUV) on the market, the RX was more high-rise hatchback than genuine go-anywhere mud-plugger and this characteristic was reflected in its looks. It was also less bluff and in your face than the European opposition, too.

Interior – In typical Lexus style for its time, the RX boasted a light and airy cabin with the lighter-coloured materials – fascia, trim, wood, seats – doing much to lift the overall ambience and displaying a high level of quality. There's no more than average room for occupants fore and aft and the boot is a modest size, though.

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Driving – The RX range won't worry a supercharged Range Rover Sport in performance terms as it's immediately obvious that the Lexus SUV was developed first and foremost for comfort. In that context is performs well, with the hybrid variant's smooth powertrain further reducing noise when in electric-only mode.

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Ownership – An easy car to drive and own, the RX family is well liked by owners. Coming with a generous level of standard equipment comfort levels are high, as is refinement when on the move. And, like all Lexus models, the RX is never a chore to drive thanks to its light controls and hushed cabin ambience. This is especially true of the hybrid model thanks to its dual powertrain and ability to run in electric-only mode at low speeds.

What to look for – Many RX variants will likely have been pampered private purchases, which should ensure a high standard of presentation and mechanical integrity. The more complex hybrid model demands a higher level of scrutiny for obvious reasons, and with its performance better suited to urban environments be alert to parking dents and kerbed wheels. Given the car's premium status, don't accept anything less than a flawless interior as damage to the trim or upholstery materials could prove costly to repair.

Model history – 2005, Lexus adds a petrol-electric hybrid version to its RX premium SUV range. The car's 3.3-litre petrol motor is joined by a battery and electric motor combination to power the rear wheels – thus ensuring the RX hybrid remains a genuine 4x4 albeit a part time one. As with every other Lexus, standard kit and comfort levels are very high.

Reasons to buy – Low-key luxury ambience, brand image for those seeking relief from premium European alternatives, hybrid benefits.

Reasons to beware – Average hybrid economy on long journeys, not for keen drivers.

Pick of the range – RX400h SE-L.

What to pay – 2005 05 �13,050; 2005 55 �13,750; 2006 06 �15,000; 2006 56 �15,800; 2007 07 �17,400; 2007 57 �18,200; 2008 08 �19,900; 2008 58 �20,750; 2009 09 ��22,500; 2009 59 �23,250; 2010 59 �24,250. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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