Review: Family adventuring with the Lexus RX450h

For one week, I had the opportunity to drive the Lexus RX, which was recently voted one of the best cars for families by US News & World Report. As a full-time working mother of two boys who knows very little about cars but a lot on how awful it is to drive in Seattle and how often people tell me, “Why don’t you get a mini-van!” I was interested in how my family could adapt to this crossover SUV.

I received the Lexus RX 450H, a hybrid crossover SUV that made me feel like I was upgraded to first-class when my whole life I had been on a cargo plane with chicken crates and battered luggage. When I entered the car, the smell of leather welcomed me and I felt there had been some kind of mistake, like I should be looking for a flight attendant to ask, “Are you sure I shouldn’t be back with the chickens?”

The interior is gorgeous–soft leather seats and bamboo finishes. This Lexus felt much more like a spaceship than an SUV. If spaceships had cup holders in the corner and in the door (with an expanding side for your big voluptuous drinks) and everywhere I needed it.

I connected my iPhone to the USB outlet in the center console, plus there is a ridge that fit the cord perfectly so I could shut the cover.  The center console also opens up for storage, plus I found that there was another compartment below for even more storage. You could fit in your entire purse or hide the fast food bags inside quickly when the pushy PTA mom saunters toward your car to tap on the window and ask, “Oh, is this a new car, Mona?”

There are numerous safety features included such as 10 airbags throughout the car and a Safety Connect button that automatically calls for help during an emergency. The Blind Spot Monitor was a light would appear on the rear mirrors, indicating that there was a car or object in adjacent lanes. I loved having the added assistance when changing lanes because in Seattle, no one knows how to do this. We’re supposed to merge, people!

The Lexus Park Assist’s sensors would alert me whenever there was an object close to the bumpers. It would also beep faster the closer I got to whatever object it detected, which helped when I was parallel parking and needed to judge how much room I had around me and if this would be a five or fifteen-point turn. However, the first time the Lexus Park Assist flashed at me was when I was in the drive-thru lane getting a fast food breakfast. I drove close enough to the side of the building to pay and pick-up the food (in case you’ve lived a glided life and have never succumbed to the world that is a hot breakfast sandwich! Congrats to you!) that the beeps were a soundtrack for my unhealthy morning.

But it wouldn’t shut off during the short drive between the order menu and the pick-up window, as if to punish me for not making better choices. I know, I know, Lexus Park Assist! It wasn’t always a judgmental sound, it came in handy whenever I parked and needed to pull out of a tight corner.

The Remote Touch device made it very easy to switch between settings. It’s really intuitive to move through the options and click through the radio, apps and maps. It looks complicated, but it’s not. I know my mom could figure it out and she asks me how many w’s to include in “”

The navigation system and I had a funny moment where I wanted to go to the Whole Foods in University Place, which technically did happen, though it wasn’t the one I wanted.  There were other entries for Whole Foods that I could have chosen if I were smarter!

My kids were not interested in the features behind the wheel, even though they loved using 12-speaker sound system to turn the car into their personal Bruno Mars concert. My boys wanted to explore. Children need to get out of the house or they morph into crazed creatures that only know how to wrestle and whine and complain until they are released into fresh air and open spaces like an antidote to soothe these savage beasts (that I love so much!). Initially, I wanted to drive to the coast but that did not happen, so I was determined to test out this car as a family vehicle, using every day to travel throughout this city and beyond.

During one trip downtown, Nathan fell on the sidewalk and suffered a bloody knee. I remembered the first aid kit in the trunk, pressed the Power Rear Door and sat my poor boy up so I could clean his knee and apply a band-aid. I’m not sure if the first aid kit is included in every model, but I was so happy to have it.

One day we drove out to a state park and explored the woods. These two city boys climbed over trunks and twigs, gathering sticks and rocks and running down leafy paths faster than I could catch up.

They zipped around the forest like two warriors fighting to conquer the lands. We were far away from the rush and roar of the city, where there are few quiet moments and even fewer places a little boy can call himself king.

We spent time in our local haunts like the bowling alley, collecting enough earnings to make the dream of an XBox vaguely possible, even if it’s only 23,000 tickets away. 

We made it to 8,888 miles and pulled over to take a photo.  The number “8” is considered lucky and who am I not to celebrate the occasion?

One early morning, I whispered to my oldest son, urging him awake, “Let’s go on an adventure.” He changed out of his pajamas, sleepily crawled into a backwards Bartman sweatshirt and accompanied his mother to the beach. We teetered on logs, sank our sneakers into the sand and nodded at the elderly couple who held hands as they walked past us. It was a great moment to spend with my boy, this child who is more teenager than toddler and said to me on the way home, “You know, you are a great mom.”

Drove my son to the beach this morning before the world woke up. #lexusrx450h #lexus #spon #pr

A video posted by Mona Concepcion (@kirida) on

This car was so, so, so fun to drive. I’ve lived in this city long enough to grow jaded with tackling the freeway, especially on a holiday weekend. I asked co-workers what they were doing and most of them said they were staying home. “Traffic! People! Cars!” they exclaimed. With the Lexus RX, I had no reason to stay at home.

Having two kids means that I have to be on the road even more–driving these two boys to parks and beaches, and libraries and convincing them that grocery store outings are a delight. It made me want to seek out places to drive. I was excited to leave the house and I wanted my boys with me. The Lexus gets 29 MPG so I only had to refuel once and the hybrid engine helped with the slow drives when we moved on battery power.

While this car had gorgeous, shiny looks on the outside, its engine is incredible.  As a car novice, I can only call it INCREDIBLE.  All-caps incredible. The engine is listed as a “3.5-liter V6; dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence” but I was reminded of what kind of power it had when I drove up the hill to my house and pushed on the gas pedal and experienced the fun I’ve never had when I’ve had to go home, a building, pulsing speed that carried through an incline I had only chugged up like a slow train. I may have even let out an unapologetic: “Wheeeee!”

I managed to log about 500 miles in a week, taking my boys everywhere–trips, errands, parks, libraries, bowling alleys, restaurants, school drop-offs, family visits, etc. etc. etc. What I noticed after every trip was that I wasn’t tired. My body wasn’t absorbing the bumps and pits of the road, no matter how long I drove. This car felt like I was on a cloud, a fast cloud with a pillowy surface that protected my bulky body from feeling the pains of long travel. Have you ever been lifted by a choir of angels as you zoomed down the freeway? I haven’t, but I’m sure this is pretty close.

After a week of test-driving the Lexus RX450H, I got it. I understood why people choose a Lexus and was convinced that more people, especially families, should consider this over a typical family vehicle like a mini-van. It’s fast. It’s sleek. It’s cool. It’s gorgeous. If you’re already in the market for a car for your family or if you just want an upgrade for yourself, this is the SUV.

How much did I love this car? So much that I am publishing a rare photo of my right side of my face, which I have always felt is not my good side. I know that’s not in any professional car review–which side of the writer’s face did she feel comfortable in sharing–but it’s a note here. This car made me look good, even with my mombod tummy. You don’t need to wear a mink stole or a fake fur coat to feel fancy. This car does it for you.

Look at me with my preferred (also nonsensically vain) angle. Look how natural I am behind the driver’s seat, my attention-starved body yelling at anyone walking by, “HEY! EYES UP HERE!”

I was very sad when I had to say goodbye to the Lexus 450RXh. I sang, “I will remember you!” to the car and it did not join in my duet because it is a car and not my karaoke partner. Maybe that could be a new feature: Lexus Karaoke Assistance with different settings for talent and energy.

Even if we never made it to all the places like I had planned, trekked up a mountain, or ferried all the junk in our garage to the thrift store, we still had an incredible amount of fun connecting as a family. The Lexus RX450H turn trips into adventures that remind us how much fun it is when we’re together and being together is what matters.

I was given the opportunity to test drive a 2015 Lexus RX450H (RV: $57,405) in exchange for my review. My opinions are 100% my own. 

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