SUVs are rarely the sensible choice for those wanting to save money and the environment, but Lexus is trying to change that with its new RX 450H luxury hybrid.
The updated RX 450H features tweaked styling including nicer lights, a sexier front grille and new alloys, but it's the money-saving part-petrol, part-electric powertrain Lexus wants you to pay most attention to.
The new model offers CO2 emissions of 145g/km. It's a mere three grams less than the model it replaces but this figure is considerably more impressive than the RX 450H's nearest rivals. The numbers benefit company car buyers in particular, who'll pay benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax of just 20 per cent. The Mercedes-Benz ML 350 CDi BlueTec Sport, the next most efficient SUV in the class, is rated at 33 per cent because it's over the pivotal 160g/km threshold.
Hammering the point home, Lexus says you would pay an additional £8,376 in company car tax if you went with the British-built Range Rover Sport SDV6 SE, £6,388 if you bought the seven-seater Volvo XC90 D5 Executive Geartronic, and £6,046 if you decided on the Audi Q7 3.0 TDi SE Tiptronic.
Enticing numbers, indeed, particularly if you want a luxury SUV for dropping the kids off but don't want to spend a fortune on car tax and fuel doing so. It's worth remembering, though, that Volvo's XC90 D5 R-Design Geartronic may land you with a 33 per cent BIK rate but it's considerably cheaper to buy, so you could still be quids in.
Lexus' RX 450H Luxury comes equipped with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a luxury cruiser: 19-inch dark alloy wheels, a DAB tuner linked up to twelve speakers, parking sensors at both ends and hard disc-based satellite navigation.
The pimped out F Sport model differentiates itself with 10-spoke alloys, LED headlamps, sport pedals and trim, and if you want the most expensive Premier model, you'll get a Mark Levinson 15-speaker system, six-DVD changer and and a side-view camera so you're less likely to run over peoples offspring.
The fact it's powered by two electric motors and a 3.5 V6 Atkinson Cycle engine and not a burly V6 or V8 doesn't negatively affect its performance. It'll still do 0-60mph in under eight seconds.
With pennies having to work harder than ever, the RX 450H could be a sensible and practical workhorse alternative to your usual Range Rover.