NoticiasComments Off on Pedregon Scores Thirty-Seventh Funny Car Victory
Latino Traffic Report has learned that the first victory of the 2021 NHRA season for a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat was earned from the No.10 spot on the eliminations ladder by two-time National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car World Champion Cruz Pedregon who powered his Pedregon Racing Snap-On Tools machine to the national event win at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals near Norwalk, Ohio. It was the thirty-seventh career Funny Car win for Pedregon who’s last victory came in 2018 at Charlotte Four-wide Nationals.
“We have been prepping for a winning season, putting in so many hours and there’s nothing quite as rewarding as coming out on top and holding up that trophy at the end of a race weekend,” said Pedregon. “What a great job John (Collins), Rip (Reynolds), and the team did to get us ready for this race. What a real triumph for us all, especially after the 2020 season. We really appreciate our sponsors and great fans for sticking with us and giving us the additional boost of confidence we needed. That support is what makes it all possible.”
Pedregon’s performance aboard his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat consistently improved with every run throughout the weekend at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. After earning a tenth place seeding for eliminations, he went on to collect round wins over Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria to advance to his first final round appearance of the year to face category points leader, Bob Tasca III. Following a holeshot semifinal win over DeJoria and the second rain delay of the day, Pedregon came ready for his final faceoff and used a 0.053-second reaction time to give his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat another holeshot advantage off the start and power to a 3.958 sec/324.75 mph pass over Tasca’s (0.100 sec.) 3.913/332.02 effort to earn the coveted Wally trophy and the treasured ice cream scoop trophy that the Bader family offers the winners at their dragstrip.
“(Winning) is not why I drag race, but this’ll keep me drag racing,” shared Pedregon. “It’s a good team and I felt like I was kind of holding my team back a little, but I dug deep. You work your way into winning again and these guys taught me to get back into that winning. It feels good to be back at it. This win means that I’m as good as the car, and I know I have a good car, so I think I can be there for the car as well and win more races.”
Competition may not be the mother of invention, but it’s certainly related. In the escalating crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) market, carmakers have had to get creative when trying to compete. Hyundai opted to approach the challenge from a value perspective when introducing yet another crossover, the Venue, to its lineup. Latino Traffic Report recently got to drive the thrifty little SUV, specifically, the Venue SEL, and while it may be cheapest SUV offered, Hyundai’s certainly not giving it away.
To hold their own, crossovers need to offer what car buyers want, utility combined with the performance of a sedan. Introduced in 2020, the Venue certainly checks this box offering a 60/40 split second-row seat that deploys easily to expose 31.9 cu. ft. of cargo room. Despite being Hyundai’s smallest SUV, its interior as a whole felt roomy, the seats were a striking black and white two-tone and there were creative cubbies for storage like the one pictured (right) under the dash. The ride, however, was a bit bumpy.
For added convenience, a rearview camera, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with cruise and cruise control, cruise control though not adaptive, remote keyless entry and forward collision avoidance are standard. Initially, getting more comforting technology, like a blind spot monitor, required the Convenience Package but for 2021, it’s now standard on SEL and Denim trim levels. The test model also added a sunroof and leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, as well as the Premium package ($1,750 ) that brought heated fronts seats, LED headlights and taillights, and an eight-inch navigation touchscreen, among other features.
A 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine with 121 horsepower and 113 ft.-lbs. of torque powers the Venue, matched to a continuously variable transmission. Compact SUVs should also try to be fuel-efficient. The Venue has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 on the highway. It averaged 33.8 on the test drive. The test model included Snow, and Drive modes to improve performance but oddly, not an Eco mode to improve fuel efficiency.
Available in three trim levels, S, SEL, and Denim, pricing for the 2021 Venue starts at $19,870. The as-tested price came to $23,405.
Si: As advertised, the Venue offers utility and value in the compact crossover segment.
No: While adding a blind spot monitor as standard equipment on SEL and Denim was a good move, the base model is excluded. Consumers should at least have the chance to purchase this technology.
Nissan, ReviewsComments Off on Full-Size SUV Review: 2021 Nissan Armada
By Andy Stonehouse
What might be considered the “regular” version of its luxurious, mechanically-similar cousin, the Infiniti QX80, the all-new 2021 Nissan Armada is anything but. In many ways, it’s a more practical and more enjoyable rendition of the shared, 400-horsepower, eight-passenger package.
Admittedly, the 4×4 Platinum trim level of the Armada I drove did check in at a total price of $71,250—considerably higher than the $48,600 base model that’s out there—making it a little more Infiniti-esque than initially planned.
But I still liked it more than a QX80 I drove just a few months earlier. Maybe that’s because with just a little less gloss—or, maybe just a whole lot of its own kind of gloss—the Armada Platinum was a lot more fun and stable to drive, even with gargantuan 22-inch wheels as its standard issue.
Redesigned for 2021, the Armada now features a moderately overwhelming central stack of infotainment and other controls, but it’s still more manageable and user-friendly than Infiniti. I even had a pair of behind-the-front-headrests video screens as part of this model’s seven-passenger layout: two large captain’s chairs with a massive console between them, each of them flipping and flopping out of the way to gain access to what was a reasonably sizeable third row that slides up and out of the floor when needed. Those third-row seats actually move back quite a bit in the process, revealing decent foot room.
The biggest news is a largely redesigned exterior. The new ultra-bright LED headlamps and tail lights and a standard 12.3-inch color infotainment display way up on top of that center stack were most impressive. The vehicle’s hood still came up to my neck, i.e. small it is not, in any way. The Armada is 208.9 inches overall, 79.9 inches wide and 75.8 inches high, maybe even taller on those big 22s.
The 5.6-liter V-8 and a seven-speed transmission help cart around the 6,037 pounds of metal my top-end model weighed; that power, plus 413 lb.–ft. of torque, means it’s good to haul up to 8,500 pounds of trailer, with trailer brake controls built into the bottom of the console.
You will not find that power insufficient, or the engine particularly meek in its exhaust note. This is old-school muscle at work, and I got a passable 16.9 combined MPG during high-altitude drives in the mountains. It’s rated at 14 MPG city and 19 highway, which is about as old-school as they come, nowadays.
Armada’s raw bigness certainly presents itself when parking and maneuvering, like a piece of industrial equipment. I had to remember to turn the wheel an extra crank to center myself in lane when taking corners in town. But parking was actually better than in other fuller-than-full-sized SUVs, with backing cameras and some very noisy proximity alarms that made it pretty simple.
Armada’s rendition of an Infiniti-worthy leathery, glossy interior is quite tasteful, with large, quilted leather seating, draped leather on the doors and some nice glossy wood highlights, including bits that curve from the doors into the dash.
Sí: With the exception of its glossiest models, the Armada represents an affordable option to the tony Infiniti QX80, with all of the size, power and stance. Think Yukon Denali vs. Escalade.
No: The bigness is just plain old big, making parking an issue and resulting in 1990s-styled gas mileage. Get a stepladder if you want to load anything onto the roof.
Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Golden, Colorado.All photos are stock, not as-tested.
Honda, ReviewsComments Off on Hybrid Review: 2021 Honda Accord
By Andy Stonehouse
I managed, somewhat accidentally, to provide perhaps the most harsh real-world test for one of Honda’s two new hybrids, the 2021 Accord: a bone-chilling -11 degree F snap we experienced out in Colorado in February, part of the system that walloped Texas and much of the South and Southeast. One would not think that an amply-sized, electrically-enhanced, Ohio-made family hybrid sedan such as the Accord would respond well to that kind of thing, but it did, with aplomb.
After a night in actually sub-zero temperatures, it started right up and continued doing what it had been doing before the cold, getting 48 miles per gallon (MPG) both in city and highway driving. Overall, the hybrid variant of the new Accord boasts a 600-mile range between fill-ups.
That’s a pretty impressive figure for a $37,435 vehicle (as-tested price in the top-of-the-line Touring trim level) I felt had more physically in common with an old Ford Crown Victoria than Accords I remember from the past. Redesigned in 2018, the tenth-generation Accord is indeed a large and comfortable cruiser, and despite producing just 212 horsepower from its electrical setup, it climbed hills and even offered some sporty-lite careening capabilities.
For the most part, the hybrid aspect remains absolutely invisible, with absolutely no complicated power handoffs when the car switches between generator and engine power. Its system uses a clutch to enable a direct transmission link when the gasoline motor kicks in.
Handling feels tangibly solid with slightly heavy steering. The suspension is also exceptionally stiff and the vehicle rolls very flat and smooth.
You can play with the amount of regenerative braking using control buttons, especially while headed downhill; oddly, the Accord is only configured to offer a single mile’s range in all-electric mode, as that is apparently not a priority for Honda customers right now.
That’s maybe a slightly odd move, given every other manufacturer’s ambitious attempts to offer longer-range, plug-in hybrid options, but Honda is still pushing hydrogen power as its Moon Shot technology. At 48 MPG, the Accord already sort of seems like it’s running on electricity, so why mess around with expensive and complicated batteries, for now?
There’s also a bit of juxtaposition in design as the Accord offers increasingly sporty lines and an overall look that borders on flashy. The gleaming samurai sword on the grille, swept headlamps and open-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels, plus chrome-edged lower body bulges for better aerodynamics. Inside, however, you won’t find the glitz and glow of an Acura, but you’ll still be impressed by the somewhat sedate, soft-touch interior and broad seating. There are acres of legroom in the back.
I also managed to finally sit down and pre-configure the large Display Audio infotainment screen for easier use while driving; during other drives I was unable to even find the digital XM Radio controls, and spent a lot of dangerous time poking the screen. Set up all of that before you drive and it’s really seamless and easy to use.
Hybrid data geeks (with families to cart around) will appreciate what seemed to be about 25 different system metrics and readouts in the left bezel of the instrument display.
Pricing for the 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid starts at $27,565.
Sí: Wow, the mileage. Mileage other hybrids only dream about, 48 MPG, almost consistently, in a very large and comfortable vehicle, not a weird little econo-box.
No: While it’s really flashy outside, the new Accord remains pretty boring indoors. There is not an ounce of drama in the dash and cabin design. But, as one of America’s best-selling cars of all time, maybe that’s the plan.
Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Golden, Colorado.
Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has learned that Adelmo Chaparro was named Lexus Southern vehicle operations manager where he oversees vehicle sales, distribution, marketing and product training and engagement for the 68 Lexus dealers in 11 states that his area office.
“I am excited to join the Lexus Southern Area and work closely with our team members,” says Chaparro. “It’s been an incredible journey working for Toyota and Lexus over the past 15 years, and those experiences have helped prepare me for this new role. The future is very bright for Lexus, and I look forward to working hard to support our dealerships and their continued success.”
Before joining Lexus in September, 2020, Chaparro was the MDRP at Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) headquarters in Plano, Texas, where he rotated through positions in Guest Experience and Retention, Demand and Supply Management, and Toyota Sales Operations. Born in Venezuela and raised in Evansville, Indiana, he has worked at TMNA since 2006.
At LTR, we applaud efforts in the auto industry to hire and promote Latinos.
RecallsComments Off on Hyundai Recalls Certain 2021 Santa Fe SUVs
Latino Traffic Report has learned that Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain 2021 Santa Fe vehicles equipped with 2.5-litre Turbo engines. The fuel pipe connecting the high pressure fuel pump to the fuel rail may not have been tightened properly.
Dealers inspected and tightened the fuel pipe connection, free of charge. The affected vehicles have been repaired and therefore no owner notification letters will be sent. Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai’s number for this recall is 206.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
ReviewsComments Off on Premium SUV Review: Lincoln Navigator
Positioned near the top of the automotive food chain, premium full-size sport utility vehicles (SUVs) offer an exceptional level of luxury, comfort, and convenience. At a price nearing six figures (sometimes more), they appeal to a select consumer who expects a lot of bang for the buck.
Latino Traffic Reportrecently drove the Navigator, one of four plush Lincoln SUVs and its oldest and largest SUV nameplate Filled with lots of bells and whistles, including possibly the most comfortable seats in the business, the driving experience did not disappoint.
Redesigned for 2018, the Navigator continues to recover from two generations ago that was polarizing at best, e.g. an excessively chromed grille that made the Navigator appear to be wearing braces. The new look harkens back to Lincoln’s reputation for understated elegance.
The interior includes accents that should come with this segment, like real wood, aluminum, and leather. The test model Navigator Reserve with all-wheel drive (AWD) also came with a 12-inch configurable display in the instrument cluster, plus a ten-inch voice-activated touchscreen in the center console. The Sync3 system directed its connectivity, including access to AppleCar Play and Android Auto capability.
Modern features such as wireless charging and standard Wi-Fi, six USB ports, four 12-volt power outlets and a 110-volt plug were included. Lincoln added a new standard feature, Phone As A Key that allows owners to lock and unlock, open the liftgate and, start and drive their Navigator by utilizing the Lincoln Way app.
Features like the illuminated Lincoln logo that reflected on the ground as the driver approached for improved security, especially at night, a button to automatically fold the second and third rows, heated and cooled seats in the front, and heated seats in the second row, power running boards, and a panoramic sunroof elevated the test model even further.
SUVs this size don’t just bring luxury, they also offer some utility, namely towing and cargo capacity. A twin-turbo V6 engine with an estimated 450 horsepower and 510 lb.-ft. of torque, matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission, powers all Navigators. Maximum towing can reach 8,700 lbs. (or 8,300 lbs. when equipped with AWD) and there’s 103.3 cu. ft. of room behind behind the first row. The Navigator’s lighter, high-strength aluminum-alloy body improves the ride as well as fuel economy earning an EPA estimated 16 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. It achieved an average of 19.3 mpg on the test drive. Multiple drive modes also improved performance.
Drivability can be tricky on hefty SUVs like the Navigator but its warning bells from Advanced Park Assist, the blind spot monitor, and Pre-Collision Assist, improve confidence. Its ample size also brings another benefit, seating for eight. Equipped with the optional captain’s chairs, the test model offered seating for seven.
Other standard technology on the test model included adaptive cruise control, a hands-free liftgate, Sync3 voice activated navigation, and a head up display.
Pricing on the 2021 Navigator, including destination fees, starts at $77,480. The as-tested price came to $92,020.
Sí: The Navigator carries the aspirational brand, technology, and premium features that justify its price.
No: The test model also included Cappuccino-colored leather seats, that while elegant, showed wear on the sides of the front seats.
Reclaiming the Border Narrative is an effort to penetrate and shape the national attention on migration and the United States-Mexico border by supporting authentic storytelling by affected communities on the cultures and socio-political dynamics that comprise the region. Funding will enable immigrant rights advocates, artists, writers and organizations to work over the next three years to organize and preserve stories reflecting the dignity and truth of border communities, connecting and empowering them to center their own narrative on their terms and in their voices.
“Damaging narratives about border communities have for too long dominated the national attitude towards immigrants. We are proud to support these communities to reclaim their truth, speak their stories, and craft new anthems for America that ring with the dignity, demands, and dreams of border communities,” said Maria Torres-Springer, vice president of U.S. Programs for the Ford Foundation.
Prevailing narratives across administrations have demonized border communities and stoked fear of immigrants, fueling xenophobic policies including a multi-billion dollar border wall and family separation. Through it all, the authentic life stories, voices, and narratives of impacted border communities have been flattened, and the complexities of their cultures, contributions, and experiences have been erased.
The Ford Foundation will provide more than $4.5 million in grants to the partners, who will regrant to:
Immigrants’ rights organizations working in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas;
Artists, filmmakers, writers, and journalists who live or work along the border and who lift up the region’s stories and issues; and
Provide training and technical assistance to those grantees to improve and expand their capacity to use documentation, storytelling, and other forms of creative expression to advance their organizing and advocacy agendas beyond the life of their grants.
Ford will provide additional support to the Southwest Folklife Alliance to document the learning from this initiative. The collective efforts will be compiled into an accessible digital archive to collect, house, and preserve the stories from the border and include contributions of other communities, advocates, and creatives after the project ends.
“The truth that runs through all of our work is that directly affected communities are the essential creative force in the larger arc of social change,” said Amoretta Morris, president of Borealis Philanthropy. “In the aftermath of the last four years of extreme anti-immigrant actions and narratives, we must listen to and center the stories, experiences, and wisdom of border communities who are determining their own futures. Borealis is thrilled to support the advocates helping to uplift the voices we need to hear right now.”
“It’s clear that culture and stories shape national policies about immigration,” said Favianna Rodriguez, cultural strategist and president for the Center for Cultural Power. “For too long, our country’s dominant story has been one of criminalization and dehumanization, which has led to children and families being held in cages. The Center for Cultural Power is honored to build the cultural capacity of artists and pro-migrant organizations to create, amplify and normalize a different kind of culture that’s welcoming to immigrants and can move us away from a punishment economy.”
Maria Torres-Springer, vice president of U.S. Programs for the Ford Foundation, said, “Damaging narratives about border communities have for too long dominated the national attitude towards immigrants. We are proud to support these communities to reclaim their truth, speak their stories, and craft new anthems for America that ring with the dignity, demands, and dreams of border communities.”
“It is a rarity to be among partners whose shared commitment to cultural competence can act as a powerful catalyst for systemic change, beginning with our efforts to amplify the rich and dynamic border stories too often overlooked,” said Alberto B. Mendoza, executive director for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “With this investment, NAHJ and our journalists are part of a veritable opportunity for storytelling that preserves significance and fosters authenticity.”
“The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures has long stood in solidarity with Latinx artists and organizations along the southern border,” said María López De León, president and CEO of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. “We work to uplift the most marginalized voices within our communities because we know that art and culture is our most powerful conduit for transformative change. Using their artistic and cultural practice strategically to advance justice, artists and culture-makers along the southern border will create works that reflect the dignity, resilience, and beauty inherent in border communities and our histories. It is an honor to stand with the Ford Foundation and other partners supporting arts and culture-makers throughout the border region in cultivating collaboration across creative disciplines and borders.”
“Many widely held assumptions and beliefs about the border region and immigration that circulate in U.S. culture and media paint a negative, flat picture of these complex issues,” said Maribel Alvarez, folklorist and ethnographer for the Southwest Folklife Alliance. “To bring about lasting changes in public perceptions and policies, we need to augment the scale and capacity of those close to the ground to get their stories heard and taken seriously. This project is the welcome and urgent first step towards a more democratic and equitable public narrative about some of our country’s hardest working, yet most vulnerable, communities.”
RecallsComments Off on Nissan Issues Recall for Certain 2021 Rogues
Latino Traffic Report has learned that Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain 2021 Nissan Rogue vehicles. Incorrect wheel nuts may have been installed on the all-new Rogue, redesigned for the 2021 model year, that may loosen causing wheel vibration.
Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the wheel nuts and replace any incorrect ones, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 7, 2021. Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-867-7669. Nissan’s number for this recall is PC799.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
The Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment remains so viable that not even the COVID-19 pandemic could hurt its sales. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association: “Despite a decline for all car segments, sales of pickups, SUVs and crossovers all posted gains relative to this time last year. In the first three quarters or 2020, three out of every four vehicles sold were light trucks.”
Responding to the trend, domestic automakers killed off most of their car models, opting to focus on SUVs and trucks, while import brands just kept expanding their lineups further with more and more models, from crossover compacts to full-size SUVs. Here’s a sampling of the models Latino Traffic Report (LTR) got to drive in 2020.
Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD
First introduced in 2001 the Toyota Highlander joined the lineup as the first midsize crossover SUV offered by the brand. Over time, the Highlander not only grew in size, it gained a third row and became the best-selling retail model in the segment since 2016.
Redesigned in 2020, the fourth-generation Highlander is still growing, which has translated into greater cargo volume, for a total of 84.3 cu. ft. with the second and third rows folded flat. It also gains more versatility with a second row that slides up an extra 1.2 inches, a handy shelf under the dash for extra storage, and maximum towing of 5,000-pounds.
While Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard on all models, more advanced safety technology, like the blind spot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, comes standard on four of the five available grades. There is a recall on the 2020 Highlander due to a concern over seat trim covers.
LTR got to drive the top-of-the-line Platinum trim with all-wheel drive (AWD). Equipped with multiple drive modes, from Eco to Snow, maximized the performance from the AWD system.
A 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 horsepower and 263 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission powered the test model. It had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. It averaged 19.7 mpg on the test drive. The standard Stop and Start Engine System should have increase fuel economy although it fell short on the week-long test drive. Still, it engaged with minimal clunkiness.
All grades come standard with Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM, and WiFi connectivity.
Added features like the 12.3-inch touchscreen display rather than the standard eight-inch display helped the test model live up to its up level trim. The Platinum grade also comes with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven.
The test model added heated and ventilated front seats and a heated second row, adaptive LED projector headlights, and a panoramic moonroof.
Pricing for the 2020 Highlander starts at $35,720. The as-tested price came to $51,112.
Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 2.0T FWD
Redesigned in 2019, the fourth-generation Hyundai Santa Fe became the brand’s best-selling SUV in America that year, with sales of more than 1.6 million units.
It will receive a freshened look for 2021, accentuated by a new grille more in line with Hyundai’s current DNA, but the 2020 model tested by LTR also included some refinements.
The Limited 2.0T front-wheel drive (FWD) test model was one away from the top-of-the-line trim, exceeded only by the AWD version of the Limited. That changes in 2021 when the Calligraphy trim will be top-of-the line.
While not standard on all trims, Smart Sense safety technologies like the blind spot monitor with a camera view displayed in the instrument cluster, forward-collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert were included on the test model. It also had the optional Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert that reminds drivers to check the back seat for precious cargo before exiting.
Inside, the Santa Fe offers more cargo room behind the second-row seats and expands space behind the first row of seats with rear seats folded flat to 71.3 cubic feet. For added convenience, the second-row on the test model dropped down with the push of a button,
Hyundai offers two four-cylinder engine options on the Santa Fe. The test model came with the latter, producing 235 horses and 260 lb.–ft. of torque. It has an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 20/27 mpg. It averaged 31.1 mpg on the test drive with a slight turbo lag. All engines are mated to a brand-new eight-speed automatic transmission. The test model also came with three drive modes, Normal, Sport, and Smart, for improved performance.
For owners of an Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone X as well as compatible Android devices, there’s an available Qi wireless charger.
During this test drive there was also a chance to test Hyundai’s 24-hour roadside assistance when the test model developed a flat. While the service was timely and did put on the spare, which was a temporary tire or donut.
Pricing for the 2020 Santa Fe starts at $27,415. The as-tested price came to $38.730.
Lexus RX 450hL Luxury AWD
Lexus ventured into the luxury hybrid SUV market with its RX model more than a decade ago. Refreshed in 2020, the RX 450hL tested by LTR included three rows of seating, improved performance, an updated Lexus Multimedia System, additional standard safety features, and a refreshed exterior design.
As a hybrid, it’s not only the top-of-the-line RX, it’s also the most fuel-efficient. Lexus pairs the fuel injected 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators for strong acceleration and passing performance. The standard AWD system, or “all-weather” according to Lexus, employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed for optimal traction.
It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 29/28 mpg. It averaged 25 mpg on the test drive. A stiffer suspension design helped enhance its performance by reducing the noise and vibration from the road while four drive modes, from Sport to EV, should enhance fuel economy at slow speeds though that wasn’t reflected in the test drive.
Updates to the Lexus Multimedia System now include Apple CarPlay integration for an iPhone accessed through the RX’s standard eight-inch touchscreen dashboard display. The RX is also the first Lexus model to offer Android Auto integration.
Other standard luxury features on the test model included heated and ventilated front seats, as well as heated seats in the rear while the third row folded flat electronically.
While it’s the top-of-the-line model as a hybrid, many features remain optional, like the 12.3 touchscreen that comes with the Navigation Package ($3,365). The display was bright and engaging, especially when the navigation system was on view. The instrument cluster, however, was less vivacious.
New safety technology added to the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 includes daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection along with Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist.
The standard blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert was also upgraded on the test model to include Intuitive Parking Assist.
Pricing for the 2020 RX 450h starts at $48,845. The as-tested price came to $65,340.