2016 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid Grows In Size, Power

The revamped Lexus RX 450h Hybrid gets more horsepower and more space for the 2016 model year, according to details released by Lexus yesterday.

2016 Lexus RX 450h

2016 Lexus RX 450h

Now in the fourth generation for the series – and the sixth year for the hybrid version – the redesigned 2016 RX 450h gets a boost in power, better handling and a roomier interior.

Its combined rating of 308 horsepower is up from 295 the year before. Much of the credit for this goes to the new 3.5-liter V6, which has a higher compression ratio than last year’s engine. Horsepower on this Atkinson-cycle engine increased from 245 to 259 at 6,000 rpm, and torque also bumped up from 234 to 247 pounds-feet at 4,800 rpm.

The standard base RX is front wheel drive; on the hybrid version, the front wheels are powered by a 165 horsepower electric motor. Upgrading to an all-wheel drive RX 450h adds a 67 horsepower electric motor for the rear wheels. The battery is still a 37-kilowatt nickel metal hydride unit, but the pack has been shortened by an inch.

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Lexus called this new setup the “most advanced iteration of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system,” and noted that the “key components and control systems have been enhanced and reengineered to deliver impressive fuel economy, low emissions and excellent on-road performance that will satisfy the most demanding driving enthusiast.”

On the outside, the RX 450h grew in every direction. Lexus added 4.7 inches in length and almost half an inch on the sides, and ground clearance was raised to 8.2 inches. The extra inches gives all five passengers a little more room but also added 88 pounds. The base RX 450h now weighs in at 4,740 pounds.

Other new features Lexus lists for the 450h hybrid include:

  • A transmission oil cooler for motor cooling
  • A pre-loaded differential for performance and enhanced control
  • A design evolution of the Power Control Unit (PCU) and HV Engine Control Unit (ECU) that delivers enhanced energy efficiency
  • And a lighter, efficient hybrid system coolant electric water pump

Karl Brauer, editor and analyst for Kelley Blue Book, sampled the 2016 450h recently at a Portland, Ore., media drive.

“We noticed the new RX’s improved power and sharper dynamics on the twisty mountain roads outside Portland, particularly on F Sport models in Sport+ drive mode,” he said. “The word ‘fun’ isn’t one we previously associated with the RX, but we will going forward.”

Pricing for 2016 has not yet been released.