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Completely redesigned and eco-friendly, the crafted Lexus RX 450h is the hybrid version of the mid-size 350 SUV. Loaded from head to taillights, bonuses include a multi-view rear camera, power-folding rear seats, and perforated leather upholstery – plus my real-life fuel economy delivered 30.3 miles-per-gallon combined.

I drove a 2016 Lexus RX 450h with the standard Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 engine combined with a lighter electric motor for an output of 308 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. Standard equipment on the RX 450h includes: wood interior trim; dual-zone climate control; ten-way power front seats; leather upholstery; ten-way power driver’s seat; power tilt-and-telescopic steering column; steering wheel with mounted controls; a twelve-speaker premium audio system with iTunes Tagging and Internet Radio; Bluetooth; a cargo area tonneau cover; a rearview camera display; eighteen-inch wheels; and power tailgate. Total vehicle price without options or all-wheel drive comes to $52,235.

Significant changes for the RX models include an increased wheelbase, redesigned dashboard and control center, and new exterior look. Main rivals to the Lexus RX 450h are the Audi Q5 Hybrid, Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, plus the Volkswagen Touareg diesel and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 350 Blue Tec if you’re open to expanding all alternative fuel options. HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Some won’t appreciate the expanded front grille or the somewhat futuristic design the exterior has taken on – that previous high-class look gets a bit muted. Go with the root beer brown or “Autumn Shimmer” paint job. The center console layout is still streamlined and contoured, but angled more for the driver. Noticeable features included the wide moonroof, perforated leather seating, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, rear side window pull-up shades, and wide display screen. Most of these are options and can get pricey: a $1,080 Mark Levinson Premium Audio and Navigation Package; a $3,125 Luxury Package that adds the leather; a $2,095 rear DVD system; and a $635 safety technology suite.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2015 Lexus RX 450h ratings of “Good” in all categories, making it a Top Safety Pick. The 2016 Lexus RX 450h has not yet been rated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but last year’s model did get a 5-Star rating. Optional safety technology includes Pre-Collision System and Lane Keep Assist with Steering Assist.

Cost Issues: The 2016 Lexus RX 450h starts at $52,235; the popular F SPORT Package raises the base price to $55,645. Options can easily add another $10-14K to the price. Consider some mid-size SUVs from the less luxurious brands, like the Toyota Highlander or Nissan Murano, which tap out at the low $40ks when fully loaded – they can be pretty impressive.

Activity & Performance Ability: Whether driving the hybrid version or the gasoline RX, it’s a pleasantly powerful ride that encapsulates all aboard. The Pre-Collision System and Lane Keep Assist with Steering Assist will help keep accidents at bay, as brakes and steering correction are automatically applied.

The real performance highlight is the fuel economy – I was able to retain 30.3 miles-per-gallon. But to really tap into the pleasure of this vehicle, be expected to cough up the dough for the many premium packages. There is decent cargo room to store all baby necessities and weekend luggage, and kids can buckle themselves in with little drama.

The Green Concern: EPA-estimated fuel economy results with the hybrid system are 31-city and 30-highway for a combined claim of 30 miles-per-gallon with front-wheel drive. I was able to retain 30.3 miles-per-gallon as stated.

Staying abreast of what a mid-size premium SUV needs to feel contemporary at every turn of a corner and touch of a button is 2016 Lexus RX 450h. Fuel economy alone at a retained 30 miles-per-gallon combined should be enough to convince you of this investment.