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My 2013 RX450h -- First Impressions

Old 06-10-12, 05:01 AM
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Default My 2013 RX450h -- First Impressions

(Posting on primary RX - 3Gen Forum as the majority of this is not specific to the hybrid model)

On Friday, I brought home my 5th new Lexus and 3rd RX, replacing my trusty 2006 RX400h. My original special order was placed on November 9, 2011 for a 2012; The dealership allowed me to cancel delivery of that vehicle when the Geneva 2013 preview occurred in early March and placed a new order for a 2013. My sales experience with Lexus of Escondido was excellent, from my original Sales Consultant Jim Biggie (who is now Sales Manager of Used Cars), to Sales GM Bob Avery who handled the special orders, to Sales Consultant Howard Glenn who assumed delivery responsibilities and is the technology guy at the dealership. Unlike some horror stories we hear in this industry from time-to-time, Jim, Bob, and Howard were all focused first on me as their customer and always executed with the highest level of integrity. This sales experience was as good as the Lexus I first appreciated in 1995 when I purchased my new SC300. I'll keep driving the extra miles to get to this dealership for service, and without question, I'll be back when the time comes for my next new vehicle.

Here’s one photo for those that like them in-line with the post. Go to my Flickr site for more and larger pictures (click the thumbnails).

My 2013 RX450h AWD Specs:
  • Nebula Gray Pearl with Parchment Leather and Espresso Maple Interior Trim
  • Comfort Package: Heat/Ventilated Front Seats, Intermittent Wipers
  • Luxury Package: Semi-aniline Leather, Moonroof, Power-folding Electrochromatic Side Mirrors, Heated Wood & Leather Steering Wheel, 19" Superchrome Wheels, Roof Rails, Memory System, Illuminated Front Scuff Plates, LED Headlights & Cleaners
  • Navigation System with Backup Camera and Enform 2.0
  • Mark Levinson Sound System, single CD/DVD player, 15 speakers
  • Heads-up Display
  • Intuitive Parking Assist
  • Pre-Collision System / Radar Cruise Control
  • Towing Prep & Equipment Packages with Hitch
Ordering/Delivery Timeline
  • March-09 - 2013 special order placed with dealer
  • March-20 - Monthly dealer cutoff for special orders
  • April-12 - Order accepted by manufacturing
  • May-07 - Manufacturing complete ("off the line" in Lexus speak)
  • May-18 - Ship left Japan to Long Beach, CA Toyota/Lexus PDC
  • June-08 - Delivery
    • Mileage at Delivery: 12 (with a full tank of premium!)
Self-installed "Mods" and Initial Personalization
  • OEM all-weather mats (thanks to Sewell for the CL discount)
  • OEM mudguards (thanks to Sewell for the CL discount)
  • Custom Canine Cover for the back seat
  • Body side moldings are sitting uninstalled in my garage. I am unsure if I like the pointy ends and therefore if I'll install them (even though the moldings on my former RX400h took two solid hits protecting it's doors over 7 years).
  • Set Nav "Driving Speeds" to 25 / 40 / 65
  • Set Nav to "Avoid Traffic" ON
  • Set Voice Settings to "Expanded Voice Commands" ON (OFF is a dumb default)
  • ...and a bunch more settings I can't remember right now!
Soon after arrival home, my initial detailing and 3-layer Zaino regime was started as I do to each of my new vehicles. Info on the products and my process are here on my personal website. (Check out the "examples" tab for specifics what I just did to the RX450h.)

Check out this post for a technical comparison of RX450h between 2012 and 2013.

First Impressions of My 2013 RX450h Compared to My 2006 RX400h:
  • Overall fit and finish, including details like the cargo area levers to drop the back seats, are even more refined than my RX400h – several worthwhile tweaks and improvements
    • I can actually see the top of the speedometer and gauges unlike any seat/steering wheel adjustments possible in my RX400h and some other cars I've owned. (I'm just under 6', but know I must be “non-standard” in my vertical dimension – no wise cracks please -- but just the same, appreciate feeling “normal” being able to see all of my speedo and warning indicators once again!)
  • This latest gen hybrid is much smoother in the switchover between electric and gas engines. I like that A LOT.
  • Overall handling seems a lot better, albeit I’ve not put many miles yet on the truck. I'd swear there is a difference from the 2012 I test drove twice, but it could be my imagination after reading about Lexus changes to the 2013s in the way they weld the frame, etc. to help with some of this.
    • I have one of the "yellow stickers" some other RX350 folks have reported on the inside drivers side door which reads as follows: "Caution: Load Carrying Capacity Reduced. Modifications to this vehicle have reduced the original load carrying capacity by 85 lbs." I'm assuming I also have the new springs some folks have talked about.
  • Came with 19" Bridgestone Dueler H/L tires which are hopefully a lot better than the Dunlops some folks are complaining about. I wish it had come with Michelins as I've had on most of my former rides, but so be that.
    • Suggested PSI is 33 / 33. I'm running with that for now. My ride is just fine at the moment, so I have yet to understand some others complaints...
  • Love the look of the new 19" Superchrome wheels. The styling is familiar from the 2010-12's, but these are not as bright as chrome, are a little more on the gray side, and don't carry that even more hefty price tag that chrome plating entails.
  • The LED headlights look stellar on and off, but IMO are still too expensive. I would have been happy with the HIDs if they had been available with my configuration. I’ll likely never use the washers -- never did in 7 years with my RX400h. Yes, the LEDs have ALS, but no AFS. I already miss no longer having those moving headlights when I turn corners at night with the 2013, but if I really need AFS given the design of the new LED headlights, is another question I'll just have to reserve judgment on. I don't miss the auto-dimming bright feature that was on the 2010-12s -- I seldom use bright lights anyway.
  • The spindle grille is growing on me after 2 washes and applying 3 sets of polish yesterday. Otherwise, I love the exterior look, including the roof rails I know some others don't appreciate. I never use, and therefore don't miss the roof cross bars which are no longer a standard part of the 2013 packages. The 2010-12 rail design with the twist lock ***** would have been a pain in the okole trying to wash and dry the top, compared to the better flip and slide implementation my 2nd gen RX400h had. I would have cursed those cross bars every week.
  • While unannounced in the marketing material, this 2013 hybrid has the new vehicle proximity notification system (just like Prius 2012 received) to get ahead of the curve with required legislation and concerns hybrids/EV are too quiet for pedestrians. For some reason, I've not yet heard it myself, but will play with that this week. Hopefully it's not some beep-beep-beep thing like a garbage truck. ...but after 7 years, I know I'll miss the occasional ability to run in stealth mode.
  • The Lexus OEM trailer hitch installed by the PDC is designed so much better than my 2006. It's completely hidden up under the tail of the 2013 with only the cap showing when not in use. Well done. I'd never look for an aftermarket version given how unobtrusive and integrated this is.
  • At this time, I don't plan on doing any other LED change-outs (sorry sponsors)
  • I love my parchment interior. The espresso maple trim is super -- I was worried when selecting interior colors on my 2012 if I'd get some of the now discontinued brown walnut that was "too red" as I've seen in other RX over the years, so I'm very pleased with this trim change that now comes standard with 2013 parchment. The steering wheel grain and look matches the rest of the vehicle just fine.
  • I like the revamped middle console in the 2013. Overall it seems a lot better than what I remember in the 2010-12. With the much easier-to-find relocated USB port, I feel like some longer USB Memory Sticks may prevent me from closing the lid, or my accidentally breaking the USB port some way or other. Just in case, I purchased a 6" USB extension cord from Amazon for $4, and already have it stored away in the console should it ever be needed.
  • Front seat heater/ventilation controls remain in an odd location under the console lid, although there is a quarter holder next to them I don't remember on the previous MY. In any case, the controls need to be relocated and the pilot lights made more visible without opening the console lid so I don't inadvertently leave them on.
  • For inquisitive minds, no, there is no sunglasses holder like in 2nd gen RX. The SOS button takes up that whole area. OTOH, the movement of Homelink buttons to the rearview mirror, provides subtle backlighting to them once again.
  • I think I like the new Sport Mode, but the red dash display definitely makes me feel like I'm being a bad boy or something. Need to try it a lot more to establish a better opinion. Interesting that when you turn it on via the Mode button, it goes back off when you restart your truck. I guess Lexus doesn't think you should ride around with Sport Mode on most of the time.
  • Found an interesting minor change to the Tonneau Cover in the cargo area that the dealer had not caught yet either. The pullout section that comes towards the rear window is still there. The flaps that attached to the 2012 and prior MY from the cross-bar into the back seats is no longer provided. The back of my rear seats have the places where the flaps would have attached to, but another 2013 RX450h on the lot did not. Seems a bit of an on-the-fly manufacturing change is taking place in this regard.
  • Perhaps my greatest disappointment with the vehicle design after not quite 48 hours of ownership, is the complete lack of storage space under the rear cargo area. I had a lot with my 2006. With the relocation of the 12-volt battery to the rear of the vehicle beside the spare tire, there is now only one very small area under the right side mat which is not large enough to even house the standard Lexus First Aid Kit. No more room for my emergency clean-up, detailing supplies and sun shade. I'm going to have to get creative some way or other...
  • …but I have a heated steering wheel that I know some others around this forum will be envious about, but here in Southern California I'll only use it perhaps twice a year
  • Unlike some on this forum, I’m OK with the look of the Nav. It may not be as sexy as some other brands, but it’s a lot better than I had in my 2006, so I won't complain too much. The new Enform 2.0 is a needed improvement from previous gens. I always prefer Nav (and HUD) integration to be part of my vehicle vs. a standalone 3rd party unit, and will always take reliability over technological firsts if it comes to that. (My BMW may have had some electronic wonders that others didn’t, but the electronics were also too problematic for even my geeky ways.)
  • For anyone wondering if the 2013 backup camera has "guide lines" like some other Toyota models and other luxury brands do, the answer is no.
  • The voice command interface is greatly improved and seems usable, but it does not understand pronunciation of my last name, so I'm going to have to miss pronounce my family and I to it. Unlike my RX400h, I’ll probably be using it for many of the other shortcuts as I become more familiar with it’s capabilities.
    • The new SMS text-to-speech feature seems interesting, but call me old, as I don't text except on the rare occasion, so I'll probably never use it.
  • I really like the HUD. It's my new "must have". I'd like it even more if it had some minimal customization options as to what you want displayed -- that shouldn't be too hard given its existing ties to Nav.
    • I’m glad I anticipated the issue and ordered new non-polarized prescription sunglasses so I can see the display more clearly.
  • I’m very happy I got the Mark Levinson sound upgrade. I was not able to do a side-by-side comparison, but it seemed better than the 9 & 12 speaker versions I tried on other 2012's with a test CD I created. I agree with some that the base is perhaps still a little weak even with the larger ML subwoofer and power -- I have to spend more time with it to be sure. The 2013 has a single CD/DVD slot vs. 6-CD changer in previous models. Yes, I can watch a movie on the dash when parked, but don't intend to ever do it when I can watch flicks on a big plasma screen from my easy chair at home. …and no, I don't plan to put in a 3rd party jail break so I can watch a DVD while driving. I'll at least burn a CD with some 7.1 sound demonstration for those times I want to show off what the DVD and ML can do with those 15 speakers.
  • I’m happy to have iPod connectivity at last. I keep a dedicated iPod Classic (with a real Apple connection cord) in the truck with 700+ albums available all the time, and sync podcasts I subscribe to before longer jaunts. Great. Power to the USB port is turned off when power to the RX is off, and my iPod does not indicate it's receiving any charge in that situation. I plan to just keep it plugged in all the time.
  • New HD FM radio is a big plus on sound quality, and the music tagging feature seams sorta neat. Not sure I'll make great use of the latter, but it's there to keep up with the Jones' I suspect.
  • Bluetooth with my iPhone 4 works much better than it did in the RX400h. I'm initially very impressed how it all works, including streaming music from the iPhone in my pocket.
  • There are some other threads on CL with gripes about XM radio and other album/song text in the audio displays being limited to just a few (16?) characters. On my 2013, I can scroll a full 64 characters, so doubt this should be a concern any more.
  • The jury is out on NavTraffic and its effectiveness compared to the free FM-based technology my former 2009 BMW used and that worked just fine for me on all major highways here in the Southwest.
  • NavWeather appears to be a non-starter as it’s not really integrated (beyond an icon) or overlaid with normal map/traffic display as I would prefer it to be. It's also pricey for what you get with only 100 or so cities in the US being supported.
  • I'm still not sure if I'll be subscribing to XM Radio beyond the 90-day trial. I have never had it before, but a few of the music channels are OK. So far, reception seems acceptable around my SoCal environs. I'm just not sure I want to let myself get hooked on something that forces me to deal with the SiriusXM business model of "you have to keep calling and negotiate every renewal to get a much better and more reasonable deal". Their online help to answer a question I had on NavWeather was not responsive and only pointed me back to the same website I was asking for clarification on. None of this is my view of SiriusXM being customer-oriented, so thank goodness for my iPod and HD Radio.
  • I'm waiting for Enform to be enabled early this week, so have not played with the whole Enform 2.0 App thing yet. I suspect it will appease my technical nature and may be fun to use when I'm sitting in the car waiting for an appointment or something, but it's not something I'll likely use very often -- at least with the existing Apps. I tend to plan ahead most of the time, and don't need to keep Facebook or Twitter friends aware of my moment-by-moment goings on. :-) Some Apps have limited voice enablement, so I'll have to try that out, but full App functionality is there only when you are in Park. I do like being able to download addresses to the Nav from my Mac, iPhone or iPod (I could do that for free with my BMW via Google Maps). If Lexus does add more Apps as they say they intend to with Enform 2.0 (like how about real Weather Channel access?), perhaps this will be a bigger asset to me and help justify the $7 pay-by-the-month model Lexus has beyond the first year trial …the jury remains out, but given I keep my rides for a few years, I'm glad I have the new functionality in the 2013 that would not have been in a 2012.

There are other threads on these subjects, but for a final set of personal (and perhaps controversial) data points to round this out:
  • I plan to keep the vehicle for 5-7 years as I have each of my RX. Things could always change I suppose when the 4th gen or a smaller SUV hybrid appears.
    • While I won't get into a detailed financial discussion, I paid cash, and yes, got my special order of this 2013 for less than MSRP here in SoCal, with my 2006 RX400h trade-in that was on the low end of KBB -- even though it was considered near-perfect with just 25K miles on the ODO. The combined deal was OK by me, so onward and upward we go.
  • I will continue running only premium gas (it's generally 20-cents more than regular here in SoCal)
  • I plan to follow the Lexus recommended maintenance schedule via my dealer, and doing my first synthetic oil change at 10K. With my relatively low annual mileage, I do tend to let the number of months between service slip out a bit some times.
  • When I determine who will take my money I plan to go ahead and sign-up for 4 years of Enform & Safety Connect (5 years total), saving myself 20 bucks or so per year with the prepay. I can always cancel and get a refund if need be.
  • Even with my expectation of high reliability, I have already added the Lexus Platinum 8-year/75K mile/$0 deductible Service Agreement for the peace of mind and knowing I'll have zero major expenses for as long as I own this vehicle. I saved hundreds of dollars by first shopping on the web and receiving written quotes which I took along with me to my dealer.
  • For people that like data points:
    • My 2013 RX450h ended up being roughly 14% more in my take home price than what I paid for my 2006 RX400h in 2005. While my RX400h was fully-loaded with every option for its day, the 2013 has some additional big ticket options like PCS, HUD and Parking Assist contributing to that delta.
    • My same insurance coverage went up about 29% per year, which may sound like a lot, but it was less than a couple hundred bucks in my case -- so I was very happy. That seems to say a lot about how insurance continues to view this Lexus Hybrid in safety and repairs.

I read all the 2012 and 2013 manuals online before delivery, and will be doing a lot more time with the physical version over the next few days. As a new capability with the 2013's, I also plan to customize the displayed "Startup Image" (defaults with "Lexus" and the "L" logo) with my own JPG as soon as I figure out what the screen pixel dimensions are. That will be another thread when I get to it.

Hopefully this post and my ramblings have been informative and helpful with my first impressions of the 2013 RX450h as a whole. There are many threads with more detail on most of the individual subjects throughout CL as they should be. Thanks to all on the forum for hints and tips along the way. See you on the road! I'm off for my first official jaunt in a couple of hours.


Last edited by BertL; 06-10-12 at 10:27 AM. Reason: Fixed a few spell checks
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Old 06-10-12, 05:14 AM
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Excellent write up, you're becoming an excellent source of information. And great looking car by the way .
Originally Posted by BertL View Post
(Posting on primary RX - 3Gen Forum as the majority of this is not specific to the hybrid model)
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Old 06-10-12, 05:26 AM
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Great write up, really enjoyed reading through it!

I agree, the RX look's awesome!
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Old 06-10-12, 05:40 AM
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Bert, thanks for the very detailed and interesting analysis of the 2013 450h and congratulations on your great new vehicle. I'm sure you will have many years of driving pleasure from it. I look forward to your further posts as you settle in with your car.

I can live with some of the disappointments of our new 2012 RX 350 including the what to me is a sub-standard radio and speaker system, but I can't very well adapt myself to the ride which I consider to be distracting and very un-Lexus like. But I'll have to live with it.

It's interesting to me that we also have the yellow sticker on the driver's side door reducing the weight carrying load and presumably softening the ride, but ours says it has been reduced by 11 lbs. and yours has been reduced by 85 lbs. Perhaps Lexus has made a second change to the spring dampening based on feedback from people who still complained about the rough ride.

I hope you have a long and happy relationship with your new vehicle.
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Old 06-10-12, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul B View Post
...It's interesting to me that we also have the yellow sticker on the driver's side door reducing the weight carrying load and presumably softening the ride, but ours says it has been reduced by 11 lbs. and yours has been reduced by 85 lbs. Perhaps Lexus has made a second change to the spring dampening based on feedback from people who still complained about the rough ride.
Paul, I agree with you. I thought it was a very interesting difference. Lexus has made slight tweaks to things that never get announced or broad publicity in the past, and some things like this (probably related to another change in springs and/or suspension on the 2013), Bridgestones in lieu of Dunlops, and even the recent welding change I read in a Lexus Magazine, hopefully are quiet acknowledgements by Lexus of a need to improve the ride with the 19-inchers in their "never ending pursuit of perfection".

Thanks to you and others on comments and good wishes. I'm off now for that "first 100 mile ride".
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Old 06-10-12, 06:42 AM
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Great post! This is what a road test article in a car magazine should look like.
Enjoy your new car.
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Old 06-10-12, 07:04 AM
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BertL, I'd hardly call what you wrote ramblings! Where did you find the time between picking it up and Zaino'ing it to death LOL. It's very comprehensive and will help future '13 owners. Keep up updated on anything else you find as you discover more about it. I doubt you will since you hit about every point. But most importantly enjoy the heck out of it. Congrats.
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Old 06-10-12, 07:25 AM
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Best review ever. You put the automobile magazines to shame in comparison.

Kudos on the new ride and thanks for the comprehensive post. It's the next best thing to getting my own.
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Old 06-10-12, 08:38 AM
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Thanks for the comprehensive review, very insightful.

Liked the other cars in Flicker. Excellent job on the paint of all of them. Nice Lexus logo in the garage. Noticed the tow hook pocket on the '13 extends over into the chrome. I'll be interested in further comments on HD radio, as I agree with your assessment of XM and their business model.

Thanks again. Nicely done.
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Old 06-10-12, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by DunWkg View Post
Thanks for the comprehensive review, very insightful.

Liked the other cars in Flicker. Excellent job on the paint of all of them. Nice Lexus logo in the garage. Noticed the tow hook pocket on the '13 extends over into the chrome. I'll be interested in further comments on HD radio, as I agree with your assessment of XM and their business model.

Thanks again. Nicely done.
Appreciate the comments.

For clarity on the tow hitch for my 2013... What you are seeing is a "Mickey Mouse" stainless cover I found on eBay for the hitch (I gotta have a little fun)... I removed the standard Lexus plastic hitch cover where the tow bar goes and put my own cover on instead (with a lock and some material to ensure no rattles). If the Mickey were not there, the plastic cover on the end of the opening is vertically flush with the black strip running under the bumper -- you cannot see anything else unless you get down on your hands and knees, and then, just a hint of the supports for the tow hitch connected to the frame. IMO, very good design by Lexus when compared to my 2006 RX400h where it and adjoining support tubes stuck out several inches from the back of the truck.
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Old 06-10-12, 07:53 PM
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Congratulations, BertL, on your new ride. I'm sure you're going to enjoy it. So you feel that it drives even better than the 2012, huh? I'm curious as to what Lexus has done to the 2013 and 2012 as far as ride improvement, because the 2012 loaner that I'm driving definitely is driving better than my 2010 RX.

Again, though, congrats!
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Old 06-10-12, 08:21 PM
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Are you a journalist? I agree with mklemovitic...that is not only the finest message board post I've ever read, but better than practically any car mag review ever published.

Thanks for putting in the time to write it.
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Old 06-10-12, 08:55 PM
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Is the purchase price written somewhere?
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Old 06-10-12, 09:27 PM
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Wow, a very detailed review, this should be in a magazine as an article. Thanks for the loads of information!!
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Old 06-11-12, 05:45 AM
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Thanks to all for the comments and well wishes.

Originally Posted by EMSLEXUSRX View Post
...So you feel that it drives even better than the 2012, huh? I'm curious as to what Lexus has done to the 2013 and 2012 as far as ride improvement, because the 2012 loaner that I'm driving definitely is driving better than my 2010 RX...
Yes, I do believe the 2013 is someway better than a 2012 -- both with 19". I'm of course coming off 7 years with my 2006 and 18". My comment is really subjective as I have not done this side-by-side or on the exact same route and conditions, and is based on 2 20-min test drives and having a 2012 loaner for a day putting maybe 30 miles on it a few months ago, but just the same I still think there is something to it. If you've not seen it, I think Paul B in this thread is on to something with this yellow sticker difference we're now beginning to see. I'm definitely "the heavyweight champion" so far with 85 pounds off general carrying capacity... We don't know if that's because of the weight of options (e.g. I have a tow hitch and towing package that would add more pounds than say others, ML, etc. somehow impacting what some believe are new springs with the 19-inchers) or if there has been some other change between MYs (e.g. we don't have a similarly equipped 2012 RX450h yellow sticker to yet compare against my 2013). My tires are also not the Dunlops that most report trouble with, and there could be other changes under the covers we don't yet know, e.g. there were welding changes introduced on the new ES including the hybrid, so maybe something was done to other vehicles on the lines... Anyway, unlike others, I have absolutely NO quarrels about the ride of this new vehicle now 3 days into ownership and only 100 miles on the ODO. I'll add a post here in a few days with more insights as I get through the manuals, try out more things, and get a few more miles on it.

Originally Posted by LXGXSAM1 View Post
Is the purchase price written somewhere?
No, sorry it isn't beyond my comments in the last section of my original post. I never get into those discussions publicly given the amount of variables, negotiation skill (or not), and subjective points involved. My situation on this transaction however, is far from "normal" as my purchase began with ordering a 2012 on 11/9/12, then switching to a 2013 in March, with a trade-in that had a committed value in November which I could keep driving until the new vehicle arrived (original ETA 3 months), and my not taking delivery until 7 months to the day after the original negotiation. Fortunately Lexus of Escondido held to their commitments through all those changes. Even so, if I got a good deal or if it's worth it, having one of the first special ordered RX450h in the US just a month or so after the first ones hit this shore, could be debated by us all. There is always a premium to be one of the first I suppose. Regardless, I couldn't be happier with the way I was treated and what I now have sitting in my garage.
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