Premium Hybrid SUV of the Year
Lexus RX 350h Hybrid
With its 'Spindle Body' design philosophy, the Lexus RX looks vastly different from before. But its flagship-positioning really hits when on-board, with a visually subdued, yet properly sumptuous cabin housing plush leather seats and suede-like door panels. While a V6 is no longer an option, its hybrid drivetrain is effective in delivering quietness and efficiency. This is a resounding reminder that no one weaponises hybridisation for luxury the way Lexus does.
Special Features
It's an SUV for peaceful, laid-back drives to work and back, as well as the family outing. Don't expect much else from this SUV.
No other luxury carmaker does hybrids like Lexus does. And as with the rest of its family, the RX nameplate was a soothsayer-cum-early adopter of sorts in that it had already brought electrification to the world of high-riders very early on - at the turn of the century.

Repeatedly remoulded and then polished towards its fifth-generation now, what has resulted with the latest RX 350h is a prime example of a car made by a brand that's confident it knows exactly what its customers want. In its current sheet metal, the car is also the most visually striking that it's ever been - thanks especially to a grille that appears to fade seamlessly upwards into the bonnet.

Task it to Lexus to give a large SUV the astounding ability to be more fuel-efficient than even some compact sedans and hatchbacks. With its 2.5-litre naturally aspirated inline-four paired to an electric motor, getting between 16-17km/L is no challenge for the RX. Power is more than sufficient, too; the 247bhp and 270Nm of torque send the car to 100km/h from rest in 7.9 seconds. Both figures are respectable considering this weighs in at a hefty 2,590kg unladen.

Efficiency and power are but two parts of the larger equation, however, for where the RX's hybrid drivetrain also comes crucially into the picture is in delivering quiet comfort. It can be trusted to allow the car to roll about silently in EV mode at lower speeds. With the car's platform and body now notably stiffer than before, occupants are also better shielded from noise and vibrations from the road.

In the process, they'll also be able to take in the understatedly beautiful cabin that Lexus has crafted for the RX. Against its German contemporaries, for example, you won't find dazzling colours or dashboard-covering screens here - but that doesn't mean the interior isn't awash with soft, expensive-feeling materials. A comforting mixture of suede and leather meets the backs of occupants as they settle into the seats; the black ash wood on the centre console matches that on the steering wheel; and the criss-crossing patterns on the velvet-finished door panels also softly coo "expensive".

Sure, some rivals might do the 'luxury' bits more ostentatiously - but taken as a whole, none embody the title of 'Premium Hybrid SUV' as faithfully as the RX of today.