Could this be the eco-friendly SUV I have been waiting for?

Buying a new vehicle should make a difference to your everyday driving experience.

The new Lexus RX ticks many of these boxes; you experience the tactile feeling of lasting luxury as you sink into the gorgeous leather seats. The interior styling, Apple Play connectivity and genuine power of the eco-friendly hybrid engine make you feel like you have your hands on something special. Knowing you have the power to tow a float (or boat) as well as fitting all your kids and their friends in the back of the RX 450hL is pretty compelling.

It’s an evolution underpinned by a philosophy intent on minimising environmental impact and improving overall sustainability. Lexus has refined and improved a vehicle that is already extremely popular, in fact RX is the most popular model in the Lexus fleet. It isn’t so much about ‘re-creating the wheel’ but making a luxury SUV that is able to take advantage of all the latest technology and design advancements available.

As Andrew Davis, Lexus general manager, marketing explains it, the end price tag of luxury vehicles (the new RX range starts at $97,400) is what allows designers and engineers the freedom to develop truly innovative advances. Today’s best luxury cars are examples of cutting edge technology and the RX 2020 range offers an extensive array of safety and performance enhancing features. Cars can’t just look smarter anymore, they have to be smarter. Lexus luxury has an authenticity that goes deeper than just a stylish interior.

From little things like a hands free sensor to open the boot with a wave of your foot, to safety features like the crazy, cool technology used in the new Blade Scan Adaptive Headlights, the new RX is packed with the latest automotive technology can offer. It has some significant safety innovations like artfully constructed LED headlights working in conjunction with integrated mirrors, a camera and software to strategically increase the light cast across the road ahead. By strategically increasing night vision for drivers, the lights improve safety for pedestrians or anything else cloaked in the dark and dangerous periphery of normal vehicle headlights.

Many people find driving at night more taxing and some people avoid it altogether, especially when their route is going to take them outside the well-lit streets of the city. The Blade Scan Adaptive Headlights allow these drivers to take back the night and drive in style while also reducing the risk of blinding on-coming traffic.

By pushing technology advances, luxury vehicle manufacturers are making the day to day driving experience far more satisfying. Leaving the streets of Ponsonby in the new RX F Sport and racing out through the winding roads of Scenic Drive towards Piha knowing that I am producing about half the Co2 emissions of any other large SUV on the road is very pleasing. It takes twists and turns and my unpredictable acceleration and braking smoothly. It gives me a sense of control, safety and comfort while leaving the fun of driving sans kids in tact.

Jumping into the larger RX 450hL and powering out to the Hunting Lodge in Waikoukou Valley just outside of Kumeu, the RX feels at home – open roads and the rural aspect suit it. There aren’t many luxury SUV’s that can zip economically around the city then tow a horse float (or boat), comfortably fit seven passengers (I climbed in the third row to see what it was like) and maintain Co2 emissions of little more than 137g/km.

Power and economy come from the self-charging RX 450hL engine system which utilises Lexus’ hybrid drive technology. The vehicle draws power from both the electric motor and the petrol engine, providing instant torque and acceleration. Torque is essential for effective towing capabilities and the RX has a braked tow rating of 2000kg. This should be enough to tow a decent size boat or a double horse float with two ponies. How would it cope in slightly muddy, off-road conditions or on sand? I’m not sure, but it certainly has the power for the job.

If you want an extremely stylish, super safe SUV that is eco friendly, but still has enough torque to tow a horse float, the new Lexus RX could be for you. The Lexus website suggests the new RX is for those who desire authentic quality, have a progressive mindset and choose brands that share its values. It really could be an argument for paying more to create less. (ANDREA KAHUKIWA)

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